The first time someone on my team told me to shush, I was stunned. I soon found out that she would regularly say, “Shush!” to her peers and executives. Her tone may have bristled a few, but her intent was clear. She needed silence to think or to just to get a word in between many boisterous executives. At the time I was leading a dynamic group of leaders and we were running fast, making acquisitions, and hiring across multiple countries rapidly—and I was failing as their leader because I was not creating the most readily available and free resource for my team: silence and space. That was many years ago, but the lessons of that story stuck with me with future teams I led, and now with the companies I work with. I advise executives on how to take their insane calendar, overscheduled life, and thunderous input overload and magically create more time so they can rapidly grow their business. It first starts with silence.
Here are my best tips to press the mute button for you and your team:
1. Start with you. Book silence sessions during regular work hours in your calendar and protect them ruthlessly from cancellation. Carve out a new routine, stick to it, and tell others why it is valuable for you.
2. Create silence in meetings. Who is the first to speak in your team meetings? If it is always you, then you are missing out on hearing what your team really thinks. If it is always one or two particular people, then they are unfairly dominating decisions, strategy, and opinions. Control the flow and participants in meetings.
3. Silence in the car. Try switching off all of the information, music, and distractions on your next drive and let your mind wander in peace. See where the silence takes you.
4. Start and end every business trip alone. It is tempting to book your business trips to minimize time away from the office, but you should do the opposite. Start your trip with a quiet meal alone to plan what you want to achieve and what impression you want to leave. Then end your trip with quiet reflection to capture your thoughts, and to decide what was successful and how you can replicate that success.
Once you practice these silence habits, you’ll soon realize how deafening the rest of your life is. Look at your calendar right now, where can you prioritize a time slot for your first silence session?
Dedicated to growing your business,