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The Art of Being Still

I am writing this in service to my friends at AFHE, following our conversation at the Orlando conference. I start with the overarching opportunity - how we “BE” in the world. That is with ourselves, and with how we show up for everything we are trying to create. 

Being still - Is the exact opposite of everything we’re taught. You’re driven. You are a creator. You work hard, probably too hard and too much. You juggle a lot of balls, and figure out a lot of hard stuff all the time. Your brain is working, working, working. You’ve had your brain running hard like that for many years. It is just what you do and who you think you are.

It's the habit - Of every high-achiever I meet. It’s not wrong. It’s just that there is a much, much, much, more effective and enjoyable way of being in the world. We don’t realize the cost of running our brains so much. Most of us have heard about the idea of slowing down to create more. However, I seldom meet someone who believes it is actually possible, let alone knows how to do it.

Magic - There IS magic in what I’m trying to express. I hope you can really hear me. This is not some mumbo-jumbo, spiritual crap, etc. I was an Arthur Andersen partner and ran a trust company after that. I was as hard charging as you will ever meet. (Mostly in my own way. But that’s another story.)

We start where we are - When I work with someone, typically the first area of attack is teaching them how to slow down. Teaching them how to slow down their own thinking. You see, people can’t transform if they are going thousand miles an hour. That’s one reason people think change is hard. That’s the reason people get stuck in “pretty good” when it could be absolutely fantastic. They don’t have the time and internal bandwidth. The work I do requires slowing way down.

A hard-charging CEO - Jack, not his real name of course, runs a large family business. His world is high-stakes, and the demands are unrelenting. Of the CEOs I’ve met, his pace and stress were at the top end of the spectrum. About five or six months into our work, I sent an email ahead of an upcoming coaching session. I asked him: “At this point in our work, what’s most important?” You know what he said? “Inner peace.” This was not a guy who was going around thinking about inner peace before. But he was beginning to change who he is in the world. He was beginning to see that everything he wants will come from a new way of being.

Five or so months after that, we had another of our bi-weekly sessions. He told me how that morning, he had sat out on his back deck. He sat there for about 45 minutes, looking out into the woods and drinking his coffee. He was 60 years old and told it like it was the first time he’d ever done it. In a way, it was.
As we talked a bit further, he shared a lot more. I’m going to shorten this down to the essence of what he told me. It’s powerful. These are the words of someone who had transformed. Someone who is quite literally walking through life differently.

I’ve figured out I don’t have to be shot out of a cannon every morning! That when I slow down, I find more clarity. I make better decisions. I engage others more effectively. And, I don’t have to do everything myself.

I love this man and his story. It’s such a great example of slowing down to create more. Can you imagine how it feels? That is, how the days and weeks feel to him. His experience of life. Can you see what having more to give to his wife and children means to him and to them? You could only imagine how much this new way of being, and the space it creates for him, are driving the growth and profitability of his business to new levels.

Have you ever been tired? - I ask people all the time: “Do you ever feel whipped at the end of the day?” They often tell me: “Of course, I’m beat at the end of the day!”
We all get that. You’ve probably felt beaten up at the end of the day a couple of times yourself! So, I next ask: “How many wheelbarrows of rocks did you haul around? How many bales of hay did you load?” Of course, the answer is none. You did no physical work. Yet you’re worn out.
This is observable. You feel energetic in the morning. You feel tired at the end. 100% of the difference is your own thinking. It’s how you use your brain. What was going on outside is irrelevant, except as to how you thought about it. When you become used up throughout the day, it has little to do with walking, sitting or just being awake. It comes from your habits of thought.

More to follow - This is big. It’s critically important. I hope you will hear it as such, and stay open to your own possibilities. Mostly, what I’m trying to do so far is just to get you to know there is something truly life-changing here for you. I’ll follow up with an additional article in a few weeks and build on this groundwork.

Meanwhile - I would appreciate hearing from you. I’d like to know how this lands with you. You have a great life and a great practice, no doubt. Perhaps we can make them just a little bit better!