Time to Be Quiet
by Steve Goodier
Popular author and speaker Ken Blanchard sometimes tells a
powerful story about Red, a corporate president who, as a young
man, learned an important and life-changing lesson. Red had just
graduated from college and was offered an opportunity to
interview for a position with a firm in New York City. As the job
involved moving his wife and small child from Texas to New York,
he wanted to talk the decision over with someone before accepting
it, but his father had died and Red did not feel he had anybody
to turn to. On impulse, he telephoned an old friend of the
family; someone his father had suggested he turn to if he ever
needed good advice.
The friend said he would be happy to give Red advice about the
job offer under the condition that the young man takes whatever
advice he was given. "You might want to think about that for a
couple of days before hearing my suggestion," he was told.
Two days later Red called the man back and said he was ready to
listen to his counsel. "Go on to New York City and have the
interview," the older man said. "But I want you to go up there in
a very special way. I want you to go on a train and I want you to
get a private compartment. Don't take anything to write with,
anything to listen to or anything to read, and don't talk to
anybody except to put in your order for dinner with the porter.
When you get to New York call me and I will tell you what to do
Red followed the advice precisely. The trip took two days. As he
had brought along nothing to do and kept entirely to himself, he
quickly became bored. It soon dawned on him what was happening.
He was being forced into quiet time. He could do nothing but
think and meditate. About three hours outside New York City he
broke the rules and asked for a pencil and paper. Until the train
stopped, he wrote -- the culmination of all his meditation.
Red called the family friend from the train station. "I know what
you wanted," he said. "You wanted me to think. And now I know
what to do. I don't need anymore help."
"I didn't think you would, Red," came the reply. "Good luck."
Sorry, I don't know if he took the job or not. But Blanchard
reports that, years later, Red headed a corporation in
California. And he always made it a policy to take a couple of
days to be alone. He went where there was no phone, no
television, no distractions and no people. He went to be alone;
to meditate and to listen.
The French writer and Nobel Prize winner André Gide reminds us to
"be faithful to that which exists within yourself." But how can
we be faithful when we don't really know what is inside?
The answer for me is to be quiet. To still my mind...and to
listen. I'll soon know what to do.
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