Character · Coaching and Managing · Ethics · family · Inspiration · Leadership · legacy · Living

The Wisdom of Silence

A wise man once said nothing.

I saw this quote a while back, and found that it really spoke to me.  As an inherent quiet and somewhat introverted person, I can identify with the deeper meaning.  I’ve been around, worked with, and worked for people who loved to brag and boast.  Listening to these people, you’ll quickly hear how much money they have, how successful they are, they may be the smartest person in the room, or perhaps they’re a model parent for others to emulate.  If you observe their actions, they rarely match their claims. 

A common piece of advice for aspiring writers is to show, not tell.  In a sense, when writing a story, it’s easy to say something like, “John was scared.”  The writer tells the reader that John was scared.  Or they could write something like, “John felt a cool breath of air on the back of his neck.  His arms tingled, his hair stood on edge.  His racing heart pounded in his chest.  Swirls of smoke converged into a form, hovering before him, gesturing with a hand.”  On one hand, a writer can tell the reader that John was scared.  On the other, a writer shows John’s fear, causing the reader to perhaps experience the same terror as John.

In life, we should adopt the same philosophy.  Showing, not telling.  A person of wisdom may not need to say anything, but can demonstrate lessons to learn through actions.  What first comes to mind is someone meditating, demonstrating focus and patience.  Contemplating on things, whether spiritual or just clearing their mind.  But through observing, we can learn.  A person of wisdom doesn’t need to tell people things.  They demonstrate. 

I’ve heard so many boasts throughout my life.  “I’m smarter than most people.”  “I know more than anyone.” “I’m a great parent.”  The list goes on.  And yes, variation exists.  Not everyone is highly intelligent or knows as much as others.  There are good parents, and there are many bad parents.  But take the advice of the wise sage who said nothing.  Let your actions speak.  Let your actions tell your story.

When I hear people bragging, in life or in the professional world, I inherently think they are compensating for insecurities.  To my ears, it may come across like they may be trying to convince themselves.  If they say something enough times, that it will be true.  Instead, perhaps by looking inward, contemplating the nature of a problem, a subject they are studying, or simply just the nature of things, they can demonstrate things instead of the need to brag or boast.

In the professional world, one of the key elements for success in fitting in.  This is not conforming or losing your identity or the things that make you unique and special, but to possess the ability to work well with others.  Be a good teammate through your actions.  Demonstrate your willingness to do your job to the best of your ability and to complete tasks with high degrees of quality and consistency.  Share knowledge and experience when working together.  Be receptive to change, especially during times when you may be wrong.  Adapt and always work towards the greater good.  Your successes will be assured, and you’ll earn the respect of your peers.  If you attempt to talk about yourself, to boast or brag about previous accomplishments, people will see through the façade. 

Be a good friend by being there.  Be a good parent through love.  Be a good teammate by performing your role to the best of your ability and always seeking to be a contributing member of the team.  The more you talk about your successes, the less others will give you credibility.  A person of wisdom teaches a valuable lesson by saying nothing.  Through their silence, much can be learned.


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