“If you are not capable of maintaining this mental distance between yourself and events as they unfold—or even explode—around you, then the events will begin to dominate you and your control will disappear.”
–Adele Westbrook, Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere*
What I’m about to type in the next lines is difficult. Its full explanation comes from practice. But I feel it’s a personal power in our leadership journey that merits discussion. I am talking about thinking things into existence through the power of silence and solitude.
Don’t worry; this is not a mysterious ritual that I am going to introduce you to. This is about the unexplained power you and I have that lays dormant waiting to be fully harnessed. You may already be doing some of these things that I’m about to write but may not be harnessing them all.
Let me give you some quick examples of things people do (and you may have done): visualizing a race before running it (Olympic athletes do this because it produces gold medals); taking time in the morning to meditate or pray before you go to work (many of us do this because it gives us peace and energy).
Here’s a personal example. When I was a SMSgt, I used to carry a set of CMSgt chevrons (one chevron in the right-front pocket and the other on the left-front pocket of my pants). I also had one set of chevrons glued to the inside of the binder that held my study material. What I had in my pockets or the inside of that binder was my secret, but it was part of my visualization exercise.
Anyone who has met me knows how hard I work every day, but visualizing success has always been a key to making success palpable and motivating. The time I spent quiet, meditating or visualizing had, in my opinion, brought my goals within reach.
We all can say what we say, but I tell you, some inexplicable rush of energy is released into the cosmos when we visualize and move to do in the direction that’s clearly pictured in our minds. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” In other words, you create the conditions for happiness, and it all begins with your thoughts.
I believe Gandhi gave us the secret to a good life in those words: bring into harmony the thinking, the speaking, and the doing. How do we do that?
Ancient Chinese and Japanese philosopher-warriors believed that a person was in his strongest state when operating in his center. They believed a person generated power from that center; that power-generating point marked the center of a person’s sphere and optimum balance.
The warrior was the strongest when operating within the center of his sphere. As the warrior moved away from that center, he became unbalanced and would, therefore, lose in battle. That center was within the warrior and was cultivated through the art of meditation, silence, and repetition of fighting techniques.
This is also one of the reasons why the warrior would not bend his body when fighting; his entire body moved as one unit from his or her center. The warrior was always strongest in the center of his sphere and weakest when away from his center. Being away from the center meant he became unbalanced and was most vulnerable then.
All of us need to find the center of our sphere. There, we are the strongest. Being in the center of your sphere means that you don’t let outside events or people control your mood, your conditions, or your future. You decide all of those things.
“Silence is the mother of truth.” –Benjamin Disraeli
Finding that center begins with silence and solitude. When you get up in the morning or before going to bed at night, go to a place where you can be alone. Close your eyes and stay silent. Stay silent for several minutes. In the beginning, you may begin to feel overwhelmed with thoughts. Don’t try to resolve anything. Just stay silent.
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” –Albert Einstein
After you’ve been silent for a while, think about the things you should be grateful for. Then, think about the things you’ve been wishing for. Don’t second guess yourself, but see yourself achieving those wishes of your heart, those milestones in your life. I mean, really, feel yourself in that moment. Again, I don’t know why or how, but thoughts create things into existence. Man on the moon? There you have it! There’s proof.
After you’ve done the two things above, promise yourself not to say a negative word about your circumstances. What I mean is that instead of saying “I can’t because,” you will say, “I can because I saw it, and it will come in time.” Promise to catch yourself. Speak positively about what you want to see and forget about the rest.
Next, get to work. Push yourself, and put a sincere effort every day for yourself and the people you lead. You don’t need to remind anyone about how bad the day is, just turn it around and give thanks for the day you have. That will have more of a positive effect on you and your team than anything else. You will attract what you say and what you give.
You’re probably thinking, I am not sure about all of that. But what if it’s true? Try it! See it for yourself! Leaders need silence to hear their own thoughts, especially living in an information overloaded world; it’s an information crowded world! How else will leaders hear their own thoughts?
Leaders need to visualize success to the point they can feel it. How else will they understand how success looks like? And how else will they muster the energy to move forward in the face of constant obstacles and change?
Lastly, leaders, with clear minds and purpose, need to produce positive action. They speak the plan, motivate themselves and their people, and commit to a course of action. This is how leaders achieve harmony by synchronizing thought, word, and action. Attaining harmony means that leaders found their center, the ground for achievements and happiness.
Always motivated, lugo
Copyright © 2015 Jose A. LugoSantiago – Craft Your Journey!
*Westbrook, Adele, and Oscar Ratti. “Chapter V, The Theory of Defense.” Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere an Illustrated Introduction. Boston: Tuttle Pub., 2012. 65. Print.
Dr. Jose Lugo Santiago is the chief leadership and foresight strategist for LS|EG, a consulting firm dedicated to facilitating change through leadership, strategy, and foresight. He holds over 28 years of experience leading organizations in the military and civilian sectors, and crafting strategy to meet successful business process re-engineering and innovation. He is also the author of several titles to include peer-reviewed academic works. His doctoral areas of research are Leadership and Foresight, Culture, Strategic Change, and Organizational Development.