A Central Stillness


Unflappable, steady, predictable, resolute, the calm in the storm. You’ve probably been around some of these people. The ones with a Central Stillness. But probably fewer than all those you’ve met who occupy the Jobs at the Top of their companies.

Rather, the archetype for the Job at the Top for many of us is the one that we’ve encountered most frequently. And, therefore, the one we emulate when we get the chance to do it … overtaxed, overstressed, short-tempered, volatile and outwardly unhappy.

Over the past two and a half decades I’ve had opportunities, both as a nine-time CEO and as a personal adviser to more than 100 more, not only to observe, but also to try out both of those roles for myself. And all the data points line up.

Central Stillness wins. Hands down. In building high achievement and vibrant organizations. And in generating deep satisfactions and reverence for the role of work in our own lives, and in lives of everyone else we touch through our work.

Lives of those we touch?

Yes, because the requisite underpinning for moving from overstressed, volatile and outwardly unhappy to Central Stillness is to redefine our concept of our jobs in the most fundamental way. To see ourselves as serving everyone else, rather than the reverse. Our idea of our own job, in Central Stillness mode, is to maximize the opportunity for every person to contribute everything they are capable of contributing to what we believe our organization needs to achieve. Trusting that if we do that well,
all the other criteria by which nearly everyone else judges our businesses – like growth, market share, brand recognition, profitability and cash flow – will take care of themselves.

How do we move toward the Central Stillness posture? In our Job at the Top.

The first step is to objectively appraise the personal motivation we carry into our work. It’s in the attitude with which we approach our jobs and in how we perceive ourselves in doing it. Ask yourself a few penetrating questions for an objective evaluation of your own motivation:

1. Would I do my job for 50 percent of my current pay?
2. Would I look at an opportunity for 50 percent more?
3. Do I look forward to waking up and going to work every morning?
4. Does the “persona” I display at work match the one I live on weekends?
5. When I think about my work, does it make me smile?
6. Do I fear that I’ll fail … or lose my job?
If your answers are: 1. No,
2. No, 3. Yes, 4. Yes, 5. Yes and 6. No … my bet is that you’ve got Central Stillness licked. And that lots of us could learn a lot from you. Because over two and a half decades, I’ve run into very few people who get 100 percent on the quiz. Nonetheless, wherever you are on the grading curve there’s value in moving toward the high goal.


Print these and tape them someplace where you’ll see them almost every day. I use my shaving mirror. Subtly, they’ll begin imbedding your consciousness. And when they do, they will begin leading you to answers and adjustments that will move you toward the Central Stillness mark.


Because Central Stillness, some may call it personal peace, is something we all seek. Because it’s something that everyone who cares about us wishes for us. And finally, because it’s the most effective consciousness you can have in leading your organization to greatness.

Tape your mirror!