“I begin to speak only when I’m certain what I’ll say isn’t better left unsaid.” – Plutarch
When I was a young NCO, first leading Airmen, I used to practice a framework of sorts. Whenever I heard bad news, I would internally ask myself, “Will this matter in 5 minutes? 5 hours? 5 days?”
Externally, I kept my composure while asking this question, then I would respond as I felt the situation dictated, or not if I felt that was the best response. It had it’s pros (a reputation as unflappable) and cons (one of my Airman observed once – quite angrily) that I was a “damn robot!”
In our social media driven, instant communication world, do you have a framework?
Anger, it is often said, is a powerful weapon.
I submit to you that a calm mind is far more powerful.
As I read this passage today in The Daily Stoic, I was reminded of a moment a couple of months ago during a sparring exercise with another Krav Maga student. As we engaged in our battle of OODA loops, he landed a good blow upon my person, which…engaged…a predictably angry response internally, to the point where I nearly threw out all training and wanted to brawl.
In that moment, I exposed myself to additional potential attacks from my calmer opponent.
It was only when I asserted the calm state internally, remembered my stance and that I knew what I was doing and was capable of, that I was able to defend against further attacks and, in fact, land a solid blow upon his person.
Of course, Aurelius’ words apply to more than physical combat. Calm minds plan and execute better decisions in business and life, too.