Quiet, and silence

Pay attention, the next time you hear someone speak, to the difference between quiet and silence.  Quiet is the sound of people paying attention and listening actively.  But there are still rustling papers, people still shift in their seats, adjust their clothes or just uncross and recross their legs.

And then there’s silence.  It overtakes the room, covers it up, stills the air.  It is a presence so real that you can’t help but hear and feel it if you’re paying just a bit of attention.  It is stillness.  It is people leaning in.  It is people actually holding their breath.

I’ve started paying attention to when this moment happens, and it seems to me that it is the moment that a speaker steps towards real truths.  This truth can come in the form of honesty, in the form of openness and in the form of vulnerability.  It can be stark or honest.  It is always unadorned and there’s never any showmanship.

This kind of silence doesn’t last long – 30 seconds maybe, because people can’t hold their breath forever.  But if you start to notice it you can start to see what it really takes to get people to listen with their whole bodies.  Truth.

Your truths

Ten years after its founding, Google wrote down and shared Ten things we know to be true.

Seems like a great thing for any young organization to codify after a decade.

Also seems like a good thing for a person to think about and understand.

Career paths are getting more serpentine.  Big companies are done employing us for a lifetime.  The most interesting jobs aren’t the ones we heard about when we were kids (doctor, lawyer, fireman), and they’re certainly not at the companies who came on to campus to recruit.

When whole industries are being created and are changing and are being destroyed right before our eyes, the concept of “In 15 years I want to be a _________” is anachronistic.

But if you can assemble your truths you have something.

If you understand the things that are irrevocably true for you – true at the core, not trite answers to interview questions – then you’ll have to worry a lot less about who you want to be when you grow up.

Give it a try: “I know that I ______________ “