Strengths and Silence



November 18, 2015

What did Mozart mean when he said, “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”?

More than that, why should we care?

It’s easy to think of music as sound and sound alone; but he is right, every noise happens against a backdrop of silence.  And, what the musician does with that silence is just as important as what he or she does with the notes.

Without stillness, there would be nothing for the sound waves to move through.  Without silence there would be no music.

In that same way, a painter paints colors against a backdrop of white—an absence.

And, it isn’t until they touch their brush to the canvas that the painting begins and it begins to become something.  Until the paint hits the canvas, it is all pure potential—it could be anything! It could be a Mona Lisa or a Starry Night or a splotch of red.  The key word there being “could” because if the painter never paints…then

No one ever says, “So-and-so is an amazing artist he talks about painting so well.”  No way!  They do say, however, “So-and-so paints so well, they are an amazing artist!”

It’s just like us.  When we spend too long talking about our lives versus living them, we likely miss out—living in that stillness of our potential.

Because, like silence to music and whiteness to color, the real action in our lives happens against an infinite backdrop of indecision and inaction.

Nothing happens until we do it.

The strengths help us determine what the best use of our time and energy is because they help us make decisions which determine our actions.

By reading the descriptions of the strengths, it is revealed that each one is deeply related to both the process of making a decision and taking an action.

How do your strengths help you prepare for an action and take that action?

Three Questions

Am I spending more time preparing for life than living it?

Am I so cautious about having all the ‘right’ pieces in place that I never take that step, make that leap?

What type of painter am I being with my life—O’keeffe, Twombly, Kahlo, Pollock, Walker, Dumas, Kincaid…?


Develop a practice of  silently observing the world for 5 minutes a day.  This can be done any time and anywhere: Try setting the timer on your phone and sitting still for five minutes with the purpose of just watching the world around you.  When you are done, jot down a few notes about how it felt, where your mind went, and what the experience was like.

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

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