By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to think more clearly under pressure. Reading time: 3:22.
The pioneers, circling their horse-drawn wagon trains after riding all day, would beat on pots and pans at night to keep away much more than the wolves.
In the eerie silence, they also had to fight off even more voracious and nefarious wolves. In their minds.
These wolves of the mind, crying in the desolate darkness, gnawed at the hearts and souls of the pioneers with psychological spears more than merely sharp teeth.
These wolves of the mind, moaning and groaning in the vast hinterland, tore at the guts of the pioneers to stomach the overwhelming odds of settling the West.
These wolves of the mind, howling in the isolated blackness and blankness of the night, slashed and scratched at the hopes of the pioneers with a frightening, debilitating vengeance that philosopher Blaise Pascal called a devastating “nothingness.” Pascal observed:
“All the unhappiness of men arises
from one single fact
that they cannot stay quietly
in their own chamber.
‘Nothing is so insufferable
to man as to be
completely at rest
without passions, without business,
without diversions, without study.
He then feels his nothingness, his weakness and his emptiness.”
Overcoming your deafening sounds of silence –your fears of nothingness, your illusions of emptiness– is a critical skill of the most effective leaders.
Maybe that’s why leaders around the world have a Meditation Room in the United Nations building where they can confront their demons in their minds; where they can conquer their fears of nothingness; where they can shore up their own emptiness, where they can beat their own pots and pans.
Hearing Yourself Think More Clearly
The focal point in that Meditation Room in the United Nation’s building is on a piece of iron ore bathed in a shaft of light as if giving birth to a decision, a decision that could result in good or bad.
After all, that iron ore can either be constructed into plowshares or swords –or a personal set of pots and pans brimming with leadership principles and values– depending on how the leader battles those wolves in his mind.
When the howling gets louder and louder and the isolation in the decision making process gets lonelier and lonelier, those screams in the wolves of the mind can breed a fear mongering menagerie of greed or lust for power that warps a would-be leader’s thinking, threatens his or her integrity and challenges the long-term values of the organization.
Maybe that’s why the most effective leaders establish their own personal meditation rooms where the howls they hear in the eerie silence are finally silenced; where their personal sets of pots and pans simmer that raw silence of screams into beams of a more consoling, a more caring, a more understanding solitude; a solitude that author Henry David Thoreau (who spent two years in the woods alone) said was more “companionable” than any companion. See previous post on solitude.
Yet silence in the middle of the night can foster more enemies than friends. That’s why soothing the strains of silence that threatens to contaminate every decision-making process, the leader’s personal Meditation Room becomes a medication room– a place where the wounds of pride and prejudice can be salved if not solved, a place where the significance, meaning and influence of the words —medicine and meditation is evident (from the same Sanskrit root word).
But this Meditation Room is much more than a place for the medication of the mind; much more than a place for the conception and incubation of new ideas, much more than a place to reason and reflect.
This Meditation Room is a place for leaders to THINK more clearly, where leaders can turn Pascal’s “nothingness” into SOMETHINGNESS; where leaders can turn that “emptiness”into a FULLNESS, into something FULL and FILLING, into something so fulfilling that conflicted leaders weighing conflicting advice tune in more than tune out to make the most effective decisions.
No matter how eerie the silence. No matter how isolated the executive suite. No matter how loud the wolves howl.
After all, the leader’s pots and pans are always louder. And sounder.
Mark your Thinking Place to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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