Learning to do NOTHING right…

How personal and collaborative inaction may be the key to success in troubled times.

Facing a military crisis at sea, it’s hard to imagine the right response being nothing – to do NOTHING – but that’s precisely what the British Navy has long prescribed. The Still was designed to help individuals and entire units survive chaos. On board, when the still is called, every single person knows exactly what’s expected. Stop everything, stop moving, stop talking, stop reacting and prepare to do the right thing! The right thing can be anything that adheres to inflexible and inviolable rules of engagement, while allowing for the infinite possibilities of the real world.

In 1959, the first lady of Opera, Beverly Sills gave birth to a profoundly deaf child. Unable to share her love of music or communicate in traditional ways, Ms. Sills was often overcome with emotion. In response to her crippling anxiety, she learned to perform her own version of the Still, she called the Stillness. What she learned may be every bit as important a contribution as were her musical performances.

21st December 1970: Beverley Sills, the American opera soprano, with her daughter Muffy, aged 11, who is deaf. (Photo by Frank Barratt/Keystone/Getty Images)

“When the Stillness comes, you simply realize that it is not important for everybody to love you. It’s more important for you to love them. It turns your whole life around. And the very act of living becomes the act of giving.”

Our best plans may be frustrated. Our greatest goals may not materialize. Our best intentions may be misunderstood. The world wasn’t designed to bend to our will. It’s up to each of us to find our still, in the stillness of mind that frees us to see beyond our own will and embrace the art of the possible.

Until next time, stay connected.


Dr. Jeff Kaplan

Jeff Kaplan is recognized globally as a thought leader and organizational design expert in the areas of value creation and technology adoption. More about Jeff.