When was the last time you experienced utter quiet... even for a few moments? Within yourself? With another? With your environment? There is something quite powerful in silence, a state we often think of as "nothing". Yet it is from this fertile place that we can discern what is most important, return to our essence, tap in to more natural rhythms, and take more conscious actions. Without it we are, over time, worn down by the relentless noise.
I came to appreciate this a few years ago after teaching a graduate class on coaching for a dear colleague in southern Germany. Once we were done we headed into the mountains for a walk in the early winter snow. At one point we found a clump of pine trees on an outcropping and sat there in complete stillness. Resting against each other, everything but our breath and the wind in the trees fell away. The experience was so restorative that there was no need to speak to it when we got up to continue our walk. It reminded me of a line in my book: Think of listening as receiving and noticing what is already present, rather than as something you have to do to make things happen.
As Max Picard (2002) writes, “When language ceases, silence begins. But it does not begin because language ceases. The absence of language simply makes the presence of Silence more apparent” . . . Silence is a place in which your restless mind, internal chatter, and fragmented attention can find the stillness you need to listen well. It is from this stillness within yourself that you can be radically present to the people you coach. When you are still, the non-essential drops away, underlying truths surface and we can more readily move toward right action.
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.