In an unusual break between meetings in London, I found myself in Foyles, the transformed, iconic bookstore, where I bought the score or the ‘sheet music’ of John Cage’s 4’33. I always wanted to buy it, and I found it in front of me in the music section.
There are two other unusual things here. I can’t play any instrument, and I can’t read a musical score. But these are not a big problem, because John Cage’s 4’33 is in fact a piece of silence lasting 4 minutes and 33 seconds, and, as such, the sheets are mostly blank.
The piece has 3 movements that the players are instructed NOT to play. You can hear the piece in YouTube. Well, you can hear the coughing of the audience.
I am going to learn to play John Cage’s 4’33. I think it is a difficult piece to play, but I am determined. I think it should become the national anthem. No, even better, all employees playing it first thing in the morning. What about as a corporate motivational organizational anthem?
Injecting silence. That is the trick. An entire sophisticate Leadership Development programme can be built around silence.
Wait a minute. I have an idea: social media with no content. Twitter of zero characters, facebook with a blank page and a big blue F at the top as a concession, instangram with no pictures, SMSs with white empty boxes up and down. Nothing. Nothingness as a detox pandemic.
(Daily Thoughts with no text?)
Believe it or not, I am in a serious note. The Eastern and Western monastic traditions are built upon 3 magic S: silence, stillness and solitude. These are what Leadership Programmes need. Lets build Rehabilitation Camps, where all corporate inmates are forced to play Cage’s 4’33 twice a day. Or more.
Can we talk about psychological pollution? OK, not today.
But this is a note on Leadership Economics that I posted more than one year and a half ago:
The things you do not have to say make you rich,
Saying the things you do not have to say weakens your talk.
Hearing the things you do not have to hear dulls your hearing,
And the things you know before you hear them, these are you and the reason you are in the world.
William Stafford’s (1914 – 1993)
Listen! John Cage’s 3’44 is about to start! Shhh!