Silence

Silence is a very powerful and a very underrated aspect of our lives.

When you need clarity, silence is the key. Only when you can become internally and externally silent, you can let the dust settle from your eyes. If you are not silent from time to time, you will always go on reacting and never be able to respond. There is a subtle difference.

When you are reacting, you have lost all control and are running on your survival mechanisms. On the other hand, if you are responding, you are consciously choosing a set of actions with an intent other than mere survival. This means you can see the bigger picture and act accordingly. These are the traits of a good leader. And you have to be a leader even if you have no followers but yourself.

Strokes of insight occur in silence. I’ll share a personal anecdote with you. This happened in the last year of my schooling. My final exams were going on. I had this Maths paper. I was decent in Maths back then. The paper started off well. But nearing the end, there were two questions, one of six marks and one of four, that I could not figure out for the life of me. Now, this may or may not sound like a big deal to you, but given our education system, it was to me. So, what did I decide to do. I had maybe half an hour left. You would probably think to start fervently working on the question, trying a myriad of ways. I forgot all about the question started looking out the window. It was spring time, I was on the first floor in the window seat and the view outside was beautiful. The comfortably warm sunlight falling on the trees. I remember this one tree. I don’t know what happened but I was transfixed on it. Around fifteen minutes passed and I was still looking at it. It brought me a strange silence. It was comforting. Then seemingly out of nowhere, I had insights to both the questions. I ended up solving both of them. I got 98/100 ;P.

What actually happened? The thing is when you are anxious or stressed, your mind tends to close. You end up performing on a sub-optimal level of your capabilities. When you are silent, you relax. This allows the brain to activate a bigger portion of itself, enabling you to see patterns and find connections which were previously unknown to you. I didn’t know all this back then; I guess I was just lucky.

Silence can also be powerful in your day to day interactions with people. You can show your disapproval with other people by looking them in the eye and shutting up. The key here is to not be fidgety, then you just come across as afraid and nervous. From the times of Cicero, silence has been extensively used in public speeches to multiply the intensity of the message.

Silence makes you much less reactive to other people’s comments and actions. They start to affect you less and less. There is no need for suppression and passive aggressive behavior, that just ends up hurting you in the long run. But what I am asking you to be is a little more silent.

If you are not silent by nature, meditate. Observe. When you are observing, you are silent. Even if you are an extrovert, you would still benefit from silence. Remember, you can be completely engaged in the world and still be silent on the inside.

Silent, Clear, Focused.

Till next time

VR.

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Confidence

Confidence is not a standalone quality as many of us have been led to believe. With most people, the problem is not their diffidence but their inability to focus. They fixate on the
wrong things and then get hurt. I’ll rant about confidence in the following lines. Stick around.

Say you have to give a speech in front of a large audience. Now, if you are not an accomplished speaker, and you have done this sort of thing only a couple of times before, then you will probably be anxious. Anxiousness is not bad, it is only natural. You might start to think of everything bad that can happen. That is your defense mechanism trying to protect you from getting hurt from humiliation in front of so many people. People choke because they overthink. Their focus is on getting a positive response all the time.

An invitation.

Focus on the task at hand. Whenever you think you are suffering from low confidence remind yourself that your success always lies in your actions, not in the responses that you get. The only aspect of your life that is under your control is your actions. The reactions that you get are highly circumstantial. You don’t know what is going on with the other person at the exact moment.
Always base your success on your actions. You went up there and you spoke. You spoke despite the fear and the anxiety. You are already successful.
A reminder, when you are giving a speech don’t become completely blind to the audience. Gauge their response and tailor your speech accordingly. There is a difference here in being successful and being effective.

Back to confidence.

Confidence arises when you are focused, clear, decisive, responsible and have practiced your craft.

Focus. Keep your focus on your actions. Keep your awareness in your body. Diffidence is a disease of the mind. The more you pay attention to it, the larger it grows. Stay in your body, stay in the here and now.
Clear. You need clarity. You need to learn to look at things objectively and with the realist’s eyes. You have to see them for what they are. This includes people, their desires, your desires, your shortcomings, your strengths, the list goes on. You get the idea. Do not under any circumstance try to impose your expectations on reality. Instead, work with it. It is what it is and you will be wise to work with what is than yearn for what should have been.

Decisive. You have to take sides. I’m not asking you to stick to the same side for the rest of your life but taking sides gives you power and purpose. You are not just floating around.
Choose and be firm. I’ve talked about this before in my “Why Spartan?” post. Go have a look.

Responsible. You have to own your choices and be responsible for them. This implies that you are ready to be judged for them. You not only own the rewards of your choices but you are also ready for the punishments if any may come. Desires are desires. Do not let them run you. Do not be ashamed for any of your desires. There is no need for that. Choose, decide and let go of the ones that are not in sync with your principles and own the ones that you act on.

Practice. You can’t really be confident about a task that you have never done before. Skills require practice. Hours and hours of practicing your craft will endow you with world class levels of that specific skill.

When you have all five, then your confidence will be natural. You can have confidence without practice, but that will not be based in reality. There will be lingering doubts in your mind and you will have to be constantly on the lookout for them to keep your confidence intact. It is better to just get better with your abilities.

Be Confident, Stay Sharp.

Your man
-Vik