I received a quote recently that bothered me, “slow dancing with chaos”.
It immediately recalled the famed John Mayer title, “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room”.
Christmas Eve, we are driving through a small, pass-thru town on the way to have a quick glimpse at the University that my son just committed to attending and running for.
“Hey man…just wanted you to know before word got out…I’ve got stage 3 melanoma.”
About four weeks later, another bomb…a 14 x 14 centimeter mass on his kidney.
My friend and I along with another dear wisdom mentor grabbed lunch as we do throughout the year. No agenda, we typically just check in with each other and then meandor the back roads of our experiences while laboring intently to take in new views along the way while staring out a windshield of the wisdom of foundational books and Proverbs.
If it sounds geeky, your perception would not be misaligned.
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Throughout our lunch, I was unusually quiet primarily because I was moved by my friend’s hope, joy, laughter, humility, curiosity, and confidence.
At one point he told us of the many texts he had received encouraging him to “kick cancer’s ass”, and “you can do it!”.
He obviously appreciated the backing and optimism, and yet he had a contrasting strategy for the next few months as he cranked up radiation.
“Scott, I want to be a helpless lamb in God’s arms.”
How did he come to such an outrageous game plan? The human spirit must fight, battle, war, aggress, and strike blows to that which invades.
This quiet warrior had procured a different armamentarium. His stockpile was one of quiet, thought, slowness, patience, stillness, and sharp perception.
To my knowledge, I do not have cancer or one of a thousand other possible ailments that can lob death threats and sentences at the very bodies they call home.
I, and you likely as well, suffer from a more social disease; submitting to chaos.
Email tethers us. Facebook (insert your channel of choice) grips us. The expectations of others blind us, and societal noise confuses us.
Ryan Holiday contends that Stillness Is The Key.
How can my friend have the courage to build an arsenal in such stark contrast to the common battle tools that are wielded?
He practices stillness.
My friend wields the sword of wisdom, the shield of a quiet life, the helmet of thinking, the spectacles of reading, and the smiles of joy.
Chaos thrives in the stickiness environment of busy. Chaos LOVES busy.
Our usual response to chaos is to match it with louder and louder chaos. Chaos is loud, be louder. Chaos punches, punch back harder. Chaos confuses, act like a know-it-all. Chaos delivers a blow, try to kick its ass.
Holiday quotes Marcus Aurelius, “Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” Holiday goes on to say, “Knowing what not to think about. What to ignore and not to do. It’s your first and most important job.”
Stillness will determine your battle armour. Stillness will provide the insight that you need in the moment. Stillness sets the stage for wisdom.
Chaos on the other hand…well, if stillness is the key, then chaos is the beautifully groomed path to destruction.
I will not offer a typical stepwise approach to stillness…for I need stillness in order to see it for myself.
Maybe this wisdom statement will help, “be still…” Drop your hands. Step back.
I’ll invite you to fill in the blank.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.