A healthy diet consisting of communication, confidence, intelligence, integrity etc. is great, but may not be sufficient for effective leadership. Specific conditions may result in a greater need for certain nutrients. Nutrient deficiencies invariably lead to serious health problems.
That’s why, it is recommended a supplement of Stillness, Silence and Solitude be added to your diet to make up for any shortfalls. As you go to higher altitudes, your ability to absorb crucial information decreases due to increased pressure, noise and demands. The environment is completely different at high altitude compared to that at sea level. The view is marvelous from a high summit, but traveling at this height requires increased caution.
The 3 following capsules aids in the prevention of degenerative diseases that can curtail your leadership life span, as well as creates an environment conducive to peak performance.
1. Stillness – Cures Unbridled Enthusiasm
When was the last time you stopped? Paused… No meetings, no phone ringing, just stillness. Stillness allows for information to be absorbed and will give you a chance to focus. The competition may be steep and the market ever evolving, but effective leaders know that they have to get it together and focus. “A wise woodcutter indeed is he who rather than constantly chopping wood will occasionally stop to sharpen his axe.” Leaders that can appreciate the value of stillness can move forward and sustain momentum after pausing.
“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business.” – Warren Buffet.
During Amazon’s early years, Jeff Bezos founder and CEO made many mistakes. In 1998 he ventured into the toy market (spent $120 million) which proved unsuccessful. In the same year, he started Amazon Auctions (spent $175 million). This was a bigger failure than the toys investment. Another 1998 purchase was Junglee (spent $170 million) which also failed. Bezos dreamed of Amazon selling everything in the world and went on a huge shopping spree in 1998 and 1999 acquiring and investing in number of companies and almost all of them failed. He had close to a billion dollars in failures. However, by 2000 he paused acquisitions and focused on the company’s core business model and was able to make better decisions.
2. Silence – Cures Foot In The Mouth Disease
Silence may be divided between saying nothing and wisely picking your words. Emily Dickinson said, “Saying nothing…sometimes says the most.” Silence can be a powerful tool. Today many leaders talk far too much and listen too little, when it should be the other way around. The words you speak to your employees and to the watching world defines you. With technology and social media you can’t even utter anything in secret. Your words will be cast in stone. Furthermore, a lot of people are so sensitive today, that a simple joke can land you in hot water. Additionally, there are those who are just waiting to twist everything you say.
Silence is especially important:
- Negotiations are going nowhere – Silence can be an effective tool to stop the conversation and get everyone to reflect on what is happening.
- When you or someone else is angry – Silence allows for emotions to settle.
- When you want to learn more – The best way to learn information is to stop talking and listen.
Silence is awkward for most people. They instinctively want to fill in the blank space.
“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” – Mark Twain
When it comes to a company’s reputation, sometimes top executives are their own worst enemy.
Lululemon’s founder, Chip Wilson set the web on fire with his distasteful comments on customers’ thighs during an appearance on Bloomberg’s Street Smart. Abbey Klaassen, executive editor of Advertising Age, said Lululemon’s brand has been damaged. “He insulted his customers, which is a big problem.” After Wilson’s remarks, the company’s share prices plummeted nearly four percent and the company had to readjust sales expectations. His apology came three days after the television interview but did little to soothe the damage that had already been done.
“I’ve learned that one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them” – Andy Rooney
3. Solitude – Cures Chronic Burnout
Taking time for yourself is crucial to leadership. While leadership is about execution, getting things done, and action, it also requires time to pause and reflect.
Solitude is one of the most important necessities of true leadership. It’s a time of rest, peace, strengthening and refreshment. Distancing oneself from the distractions and taking the time to listen to your thoughts is the path to wisdom.
“The best thinking has been done in solitude.” – Thomas Edison
Your effectiveness and maybe even your longevity as a leader depended directly on finding and establishing regular periods of solitude. William Deresiewicz posits that our tech-saturated lives lead to too much multitasking, when we really need to spend time working through our questions and doubts and formulating our own ideas away from the cacophony of voices we’re surrounded with.
When we look at the world’s major religions, there is a recurring story where leaders go off alone, apart from the crowd to pray and connect with God. Solitude promotes reflection and introspection which are incredibly powerful leadership tools for enhancing clarity and vision in problem solving.
3 Ways Busy Leaders Carve Out Solitude:
1. Get up earlier – Starting your day earlier allows you stillness than will otherwise elude you for the rest of the day. Christie’s CEO Steven Murphy, gets up quite early to think. Thinking and planning in the morning as he says makes him strategic and proactive, rather than reactive.
2. Calender – Jeff Weiner CEO of LinkedIn, schedules 30- to 90-minute blocks of “nothing” into his schedule. He developed this system in response to a schedule that was becoming “so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.”
3. Take a break – Put your phone on silent even if it’s just for five minutes and allow yourself to breathe. “Every day after lunch, I lie down on the sofa in my office, I hold my car keys in my right hand and let my hand hang toward the floor. When the car keys fall out of my hand, I know I’m done.” – Sam Moore former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers.
“It is only through silence and stillness that we can come to our thoughts in any meaningful way and from that spring take action we think best. Sadly we have banished solitude. There is no time to think, alone, intimately with who we are at our core.” – Brian Tolle Partner, The re-wired group
We all have genetic weaknesses, including higher needs of some nutrients, higher rates of depletion for certain nutrients, and an increased likelihood of genetic expression of some illnesses if vitamin or mineral deficiencies are present. These supplements enrich the body’s internal environment to support repair, regeneration and the renewal process.
However, overdosing on any of these 3 pills will have detrimental side effects. Discernment is key. It’s important to know the prescribed doses to apply in any given scenario.
I would like to challenge you to implement these 3 remedies into your regime especially as we approach a new year.
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