Be silent, young Padawan

When I started my first software sales position, I started to work out of my house. We rearranged our den and made it into my office. All was well until we had our fourth child and the house became too loud for me to work.

I built an office about 60 feet from our house so I had some privacy and the office quickly turned into my man cave. This was not only my office but my refuge. When the pandemic went full throttle in April 2020, I started to remake my office into a studio so I could not only do business meetings but virtual speaking and media interviews.

My refuge turned into a place of high intensity and it started to take a toll on my mindset and production. I tried never to let anyone know but as the pandemic wore on, it became more apparent to my family, my team, and associates that my energy was draining. I stopped doing my weekly blog as I was just trying to keep up with everything that was hitting me.

When I started to train for the Hudson River Seal Swim in 2021, I was going about 18 hours a day training and my daily routine with my work. I was worn out and my coach noticed.

In our coaching sessions, we would start our time discussing how I was going to regenerate and be at the top of my game. My EA put a silent time in my calendar to try and force the issue but as we all know, things get going during the day, and suddenly, that time went to zoom calls or “urgent” requests.

Something had to give and I found some notes I took from one of my mentoring sessions with Bill. It reinforced one of the areas of leadership that I had forgotten.

One of the things I was privileged to do was occasionally accompany Bill when he met with his personal “roundtable.” These gentlemen were business people and other leaders in the community who were accomplished in their areas of expertise. Some of them were “titans of the community” and others you would not have heard of. Many times I met these gentlemen in a BBQ place called “Bill Spoons BBQ.” Unfortunately, Bill’s is no longer around but it was a hangout for good vinegar-based BBQ and huddle-ups. Sometimes, I accompanied Bill to their offices. I would sit and listen and it gave me great insight and comfort into what was on the top of their mind. But one thing I noticed was a majority if not all of their offices had a sofa. And what I found out is many of these leaders had a sofa so they could take a “time out” of their day to reenergize and think. Since those times, I have noticed the same thing in the CEO offices I have met in but rarely see it in other leaders or C-Suite offices. This was a distinction that I didn’t really take into account until the pandemic hit.

My wingman, Suzanne, has been a tremendous example and resource on the importance of sleep and reenergizing. She has turned me on to some of the resources and strategies she has and is using. In her position in the US Navy, she had many high-profile positions which meant she was on call many times and traveling heavily. I’ve seen how important she took rest and sleep and how her performance and resiliency improved. There must be something to this.

When my son was young, I would go into his room to put him to bed and we would put on a Star Wars movie. We would watch and he’d ask me questions. I tried to explain the meaning of certain things that were happening and the relevance of them in past and future movies. But as we watched Episode 1, I learned something that came back to me when I watched it again during the pandemic.

The term Padawan comes from the Star Wars franchise and was coined by creator George Lucas. Padawan was not used in the original Star Wars trilogy; it was first introduced in the 1999 prequel, Episode 1, The Phantom Menace. In one of the scenes, Quigon tells his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to ” be silent, young Padawan.” What he was telling him was there is a time to be quiet, reflect and learn. When I watched this scene again almost seventeen years after I watched it with my son, it hit me. A part of being a leader is to take time to be silent, be still which gives you time to think and create the flight plan to lead.

The way I would explain it to my clients it’s like mixing water with sand in a bottle. You can shake it up and eventually, the sand will settle when the bottle is still. When you spend time in a slient or quiet mode, you give yourself time to settle, reflect and create.

We all go through times when the calendar is hectic and you get pulled in many directions. But if you are going to be the leader you are born to be and create the flight plan for a life of service, you need to take 10-15 minutes a day in total silence, calming your mind, and as my mom would say, “get your mind right.”

Recently, I rearranged my office/studio to put a place where I can sit for 10-15 minutes a day and be quiet. I have asked my EA to block a 20-minute section of my calendar when I am not traveling where that time is sacred. My coach asks me every time we meet about my silent time before we speak about anything else.

This one action has helped me get more accomplished, serve more, be more resourceful and begin creating my flight plan for a life of happiness and fulfillment.

If you are in overwhelm or in an uncertain place, design a section of your home or office where that place is sacred and you can go and be silent. I will assure you that it will be the best 15 minutes of your day and you will become the leader you were born to be and create your flight plan for your future!

Dave Sanderson is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, philanthropist, and survivor of the Miracle on the Hudson. For more than four decades, he has been a top producer for some of the largest sales teams in the world. More than 250000 people have enjoyed his business and personal leadership events’ warmth, humor, and inspirational message.

He shows how to “turn your fear into your DISTINCT ADVANTAGE. ®”

On January 15, 2009, Dave was one of the last passengers off the plane that crashed into the Hudson River, best known as The Miracle on the Hudson, considered to be the most successful ditching in aviation history.

He is an author and contributing author of three internationally bestselling books, including Moments Matter, Brace for Impact, 1 Habit for Success: SmartFem Summit Special Edition, and his latest book, From Turmoil to Triumph.

 After thirty-five years in sales and sales leadership with roles in companies such as ADP, Peoplesoft, KPMG, and Oracle, Dave founded his executive coaching and personal leadership firm Dave Sanderson Speaks International, on January 15, 2014. As a sought-after international speaker, he works with established and emerging leaders and entrepreneurs to help them find their DISTINCT ADVANTAGE, aligning with their passion and purpose by employing their leadership skills and igniting their performance through focused execution, resourcefulness, and gratitude.

In addition to his 35 years in sales and sales leadership, he was the Director of Security for Tony Robbins for over ten years and was recently named one of the top 100 Leadership Speakers in

Dave has spoken at countless fundraisers that have raised over $14.7M for the American Red Cross.

He is passionate about raising money for the GIGO Fund, supporting those veterans who have fallen on hard times by going back into the Hudson River and swimming with the elite Na