It all starts with silence

 

 

 

In a conversation with Capital Business, Dr. Vijay Eswaran, Author, In The Sphere of Silence unveils how the practices of this book can help leaders achieve greater success.

 

 

What inspired you to write In The Sphere of Silence?

The practice of inner silence is derived from ancient wisdom and exists in many cultures around the world. The elements of this practice are part of a cultural inheritance, which I have acquired gratefully from my heritage, and which has left a deep impact on my life.

I grew up with the concept of observing silence for a set period every day at home. I even read about many great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King observing their ‘quiet time’ as part of their daily rituals. Thus, as a concept it is not unique. However, what is unique about it was the fact that it gave me power during my childhood. It helped me concentrate and get better grades. At that time, I did not attribute my success to it. It was only much later after a hiatus of around 13 years during which time I studied and worked in the western world that I began to understand the impact this practice had on my life. When I shared it with other people, it struck a chord. After practicing it, they told me how much it had helped them.

After my partner and I had founded QI Group, I spent a lot of time in discussions with the staff, management, and our customers trying to understand the issues they face and figure how I could help or guide them. These discussions led me to share this practice with them and answer questions about it. As we talked, I made notes that eventually grew into a training module that I started conducting for different groups of people. Initially, we printed the module into booklets to distribute it to the participants of the training program, and soon there was a growing demand for it. That is when I realized that I could turn it into a book.

 

What is the real purpose behind this book?

The Sphere of Silence is not a practice for someone who is contemplating or retiring into a forest, nor someone who wants to walk the path of Zen. It is not meant for instant self-realization. It is fundamentally a process through which one can literally create a dossier of one’s own progress through life. The objective of this process is to stop, think, reflect, introspect and even retrospect. It is intended to question and challenge the standards that we have accepted and invariably grown accustomed to. We have allowed ourselves to fall into a trap of sorts by allowing our habits to eventually dictate our destiny. This begins from thought and then to word. From word to deed, then deed to habit, habit to character, and character to destiny.

The purpose of being in the Sphere of Silence is to break through that ritual that traps us from the thinking stage. If thoughts are the architect of our destiny, then thoughts need to be at the core of change.

This practice will help you take control of your life. I hope it will help readers harness the power of their mind.

 

Please elaborate on the different sections of the book.

The book outlines the value of silence. It allows readers to learn how to be still and examine what is within themselves. By the simple practice of getting into the sphere of silence, we acquire an intense insight into everything we do. It marks the beginning of a compelling journey towards our innermost selves.

The book helps the reader make positive changes in their life through self-improvement, knowledge and goal setting.

I have divided the book into three parts. The first part covers the concept of silence, the second dwells into the actual 60-minute practice and its various elements, and the final part is about the journey to our inner self. Therefore, the book starts with silence and ends with detachment. 

The actual process of retreating within oneself for 60 minutes every day, in complete silence includes three steps—the paths of duty, knowledge and devotion—we set into motion the liberation of our mind. It is a mechanism to ensure the fitness of the mind, just like physical exercises keep the body fit.

Each of the three steps is performed within a specified period. The practitioner needs to write down goals, analyses of their actions, and focus on improving memory.

The path of duty helps in setting up goals for today, assessing the goals set the day before, and chalking out new goals for the future. Tomorrow is a development of what you design today. One cannot design today without knowing why yesterday happened. Thus, understanding yesterday is the keystone for tomorrow.

The path of knowledge helps build the short-term memory of the mind, which is an important requisite in the quest for success.

The path of devotion is the time taken to commune with God or the Universe, whichever one prefers philosophically. This is purely personal and the practice does not, in any way, try to define or dictate how the process should be practiced.

You give a great deal of emphasis on detachment, why is it a preeminent issue?

Many people struggle with the concept of detachment. It is a state that doesn’t allow your own happiness to be hinged upon another, on their actions, or their words. It is a state of not being emotionally attached to someone else and his or her actions that take over your life and thus have you living in a reactive state. Detachment does not mean lack of caring or compassion or indifference. It means being able to hold onto yourself to be differentiated, to be able to function properly despite adversity or even joy when relating to others. It is the relationship to yourself, and who you are.

Human beings in this fast-changing nanosecond world are inundated with noise. When you are in the sphere of silence, you block out all that noise through simple exercises to achieve a sense of detachment, which helps you know who you really are.

Detachment is the key to humanity. In order to be truly humble, you need to be detached. In order to love one person for a lifetime, you need to detach from them.  Mastering the act of detachment is a slow process. There is no sure fire way to this process. Take it one day at a time. The process of detachment starts with the practice of silence.

 

How can this book be applied differently to an entrepreneur versus a corporate businessman?

The practice of Sphere of Silence (SOS) is universal. This is why I call this book ‘life management’.  Ultimately, the purpose of this practice is to help individuals focus, make better decisions, and be more efficient in anything they do.

At a fundamental level, both an entrepreneur and a corporate boss need it. Practicing the SOS is an exercise for the mind. Just as being more active and getting fit makes you better in your game, practicing the SOS is a mental endeavor aimed at making you sharper and honing your skills.

From my experience as an entrepreneur, I see it more than a guide. It is my sustenance. I keep going back to draw upon it as it helps me reach the ultimate balance for myself.

In your opinion, what are the best practices a businessperson should adopt in order to succeed?

There are three important success factors: daring, determination and discipline. You can’t just dare, you have to dare to be different. There are also three cardinal rules to managing and leading a growing company - planning, process and productivity. If the guidelines to these three are in place, the company will be able to manage itself!

Ultimately, the team takes the CEO to the top. Hence, building a team is critical. I often say this in public: people succeed, not companies.

Having a clear vision is critical. It is actually the fuel and the guiding compass of a company’s progress and success. As a CEO, you don’t just see your vision, you live it.

There is no greater adversity in the real world than the adversity within. When you can conquer your fears, nothing can stop you. The most important thing is to believe in your own hype. The minute you think you are good, you stop being good. The minute you think you are invincible, you become weak. The minute you think that you know everything, it will be the beginning of your downfall. There are no experts on success; there are only experts on failure.

 

What is the importance of communication in the business world?

Communication has changed dramatically over the years. We live in a hyper-connected world that is in constant communication. Communication is critical to any business. However, what is important is how a message is communicated and how the audience perceives it.

 

With the excess of information, there is too much noise. Cutting through the clutter to make sense out of something is an art. This is another area for practicing the SOS. It improves your ability to communicate lucidly. Shutting off speech allows you to internalize your energy and thoughts. Your focus moves inwards, allowing you to filter your thoughts. The act of filtering allows you to improve your thinking pattern and make better decisions.

 

Channel your thoughts by spending a few minutes of silence before you step into a meeting. It will help you make a greater influence and reduce the element of mistake.

 

What is your idea of a great leader?

Leadership is not about leading people, or fostering armies or stamping your name across history. To me, leadership is primarily something that was demonstrated by a man who walked this planet and had no position at all.  He was neither a general, nor a president or a prime minister. He did not hold a position in any political party. He did not demand or exercise any authority. Yet when he died, more than 1 million people lined the 5-mile route of his funeral procession to bid him farewell. That was the power of Mahatma Gandhi, who led through his teachings of non-violence.

Leadership is about being capable of influencing people around us. It is not just about being charismatic or clever; it is about compassion and caring.

In my opinion, the three qualities of a great leader are determination, dedication and decisiveness.
 

How does The Sphere of the Silence affect the way we do business?

Have you asked yourself, ‘What will I be doing in the next five years?’, and got lost finding the answer? The answers are often vague, because most of us have not tried to find them.

Lifestyles in the 21st century, characterized by chaos and a routine life cycle, do not give us much time to analyze ourselves and examine our aspirations. Many of us have unclear notions of what they want to do, but very few set realistic targets and do what it takes to meet them. The Sphere of Silence is a tool that gives us the ability to address our goals and do much more, by showing us a way to go down to the fundamentals of our self. This will not only exercise the mind, but also instil a mental discipline that is rewarding. 

Retreat within yourself every day for 21 days, in silence, to retrospect, introspect and look into the future. Sixty minutes in the Sphere of Silence every day will enable you to slow down, take stock of where you are, and help you look forward. One hour of total silence every single day can change your life. Observe it strictly for 21 days without a break, resisting every temptation to cheat, and it will become a habit. It will change the way you see yourself, others around you, the way you react to different situations, both professionally and personally and it will leave you at peace with yourself.

This powerful tool is as relevant for a corporate CEO as it is for a homemaker.

 

What is your personal definition of success?

Success means different things to different people. The real secret is that each person must find his or her own recipe. The problem is not with the success itself. It is better to fail before you succeed because that is the best way to learn. The most important thing whether you succeed or fail is what you learn along the way. The worst failure is to be trapped in success. I would define this process as crossing a mountain and a valley. It is crucial to leave the valley to cross the mountain. For me, the mountain and the valley are both beautiful. Usually, I leave one and enter the other. The mountain is now very high and we just have to work towards getting to the top.

There is no efficient way to success though. The effective path is more likely to be paved with failures and anguish. The right time and place meets you half way. If you don’t move, it will not come to you. Success does not respond to wishes. It responds only to definite plans, backed by definite desires, through constant persistence, perseverance and patience.

 

 

 

About Dr.Vijay Eswaran

Dr. Vijay Eswaran is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of the QI Group of Companies. He is also the author of “In the Sphere of Silence”.

Dr. Vijay completed his higher education in leading universities in UK and the USA and has an impressive record of accomplishment of working for top rung companies including IBM, in very responsible positions across the world.

He is also a highly respected motivational speaker, and lectures on a variety of subjects ranging from spirituality to business. Dr. Vijay has also been conferred with the International Leader in Global Business Strategies award by the GOPIO, the Global Organization for People of Indian Origin.

 

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