"We must be silent before we can listen. We must listen before we can learn. We must learn before we can prepare. We must prepare before we can serve. We must serve before we can lead." ~ William Arthur Ward
The Universe is trying to tell me something. Here I am on Day 2 with no voice. I can get out a squeak here and there. My friends have commented that I sound like a cross between Marge Simpson and those people on talk shows who want their identities to remain hidden. There is an odd kind of peace found in being silent. I can be silent about as long as I can sit still, which is to say roughly 5 seconds or so. At the moment, the universe is not giving me any choice in the matter. So I'm parked on my couch, being vewy, vewy quiet....
Those telepathic folks over at DailyGood sent me this quote last night about silence. I have definitely felt conflicting messages flooding my life lately - how to keep up and slow down at the same time, how to balance the effort to enjoy our lives with a constant eye on achievement and success. These are tough things to do. They don't all play nicely together in the sandbox and often make us feel like we are at odds with ourselves.
So what if we begin with silence. My great hope is that you have not been forced into silence like me, but that it's something you can choose, just for an hour or two. What can we find in silence? What kind of ideas can we get by sitting and being and doing nothing else? What do we listen to when we quiet our audible voice and the narrative inside our own minds?
Today, I am listening to the message that my life has many options. I don't feel trapped at all - right now I feel like I have more options before me than I have ever had in my life. I am now most concerned with how to provide myself with the greatest amount of flexibility and freedom possible. And I'm learning that there are many ways to be free. We are free as soon as we choose to be.
I've also found that every day for the past several months I am learning so much about myself. I am becoming increasingly aware of what I enjoy and don't enjoy, what makes me happy and what makes me sad, what kind of people I want to surround myself with and sadly which people I must release from my life, at least for now. I'm learning about the contribution I want to make to humanity, and I'm learning how my actions and words effect others and vice versa. To tell you the truth, it's fun, albeit sometimes a little exhausting, to be in a state of hyper-learning.
And now the preparation. I was on the subway yesterday riding home from work and reading the following on one of the NYC subway posters: "If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it. ~ Abraham Lincoln, A House Divided" This sentiment was true not only for the U.S. in 1858, when Lincoln made this speech, but for our own lives as well. Silence and listening leads us to know the first first piece of Lincoln's statement so that we can then prepare, serve, and lead our futures.
I'm finding it very hard to have different segments of my life call for a different kind of personality. I certainly believe in and practice the principle of knowing my audience, though I also believe ardently that we must be authentic at every moment, we must be more like who actually are at every moment. In this new life that I am creating for myself, filled with freedom and flexibility, I am preparing the way, offering myself a variety of options for income and making way for opportunities to pursue whatever makes me happy and piques my interest. Yoga, teaching, creating products and services, writing, travel, and research. With solid preparation, it is all possible.
All this preparation leads us to serve the world and our own happiness in the best way for each of us. We all have unique talents and abilities. The way to happiness for one of us is not necessarily the way to happiness for someone else. We have different priorities and interests, we have different goals and different paths we'd like to take to get to those goals. The key is to always ask "is this the best way forward? Am I providing an optimal amount of service by going about my life this particular way."
And then finally all of our service leads us naturally on to leadership. Leadership is a funny thing. While there are some that feel the best way to lead is with strong opinions, to develop a clear delineated chain of command structure, I couldn't disagree more. To me, leadership is service in its highest form. As a leader, and by leadership I don't mean a title but a behavior, my only role is to serve those I'm leading, to lift them up to be the very best people they can become, to lead the very best lives possible.
I have been abundantly blessed with great leaders in my life, in my family, at work, in school, and among my friends, people who actively gave me tough advice and great support and love all at once. The greatest hope of my life as I begin Act 2 is that I can bundle up that advice, love, and support for others who I will lead going forward, whether they are in a classroom, at work, or people who come to me for any kind of advice or help. Success will be that I can impart any wisdom on them with the same degree of grace and humility that my leaders have shown me. And then I will be certain that the great progression that Williams Arthur Ward discusses will be well on its way.
The images above is not my own. It can be found here.