Michael and I were sitting at the Fairmont Hotel in Austin having a drink at their bar to kick off our date night – on this night Shai was with a babysitter. Date nights without a baby are sacred these days. The amount of time we have just the two of us has reduced dramatically – so much so that I miss Michael sometimes in day to day life, even when he is there.
We were sipping on some old fashioned cocktails talking about Michael’s new venture Soul Searching Adventures where he takes 7-10 men on a backpacking trip to teach them wilderness survival skills and do deep introspective work. He let me in on some feelings he was having around it – it was losing its “newness” excitement after his first trip was a smash hit and he was feeling a pull to make it “bigger” and “cooler”. Noticing that these thoughts may impact his decision making we talked about it a little more.
Michael said to me “I want to stay aware of those thoughts because I don’t want to be making decisions from that place.” This project is very new and while I have never felt like Michael was better suited for anything in his life I am still learning about why he is doing this and what it means to him. I asked “what is the place that you want to be making decisions from?”
He stopped. Took a deep breath. Sat in silence and thought about it.
I could see him searching his mind and body for an answer. Not just any answer, but the one that felt most true. His eyes looked up to the left, the right and into his lap. He took another deep breath while staring into the distance and sorting through all the things coming up in his mind. I am sure there were dozens of thoughts, answers, words or even images that popped up – some from past conditioning, others because of the mood he was in that day – and so he searched for what was true.
One of my favorite things about Michael is moments like this. Where he could fill the silence with the first answer that comes to him, he embraces the silence and takes a deep breath, really searching for an answer. I watched as all the potential options swirled around within him and he tried them on one by one.
The level of seriousness he uses when answering questions is something I aspire to. It is also pretty hot – actually, really hot. Why? Because it deepens my trust in him. I know he isn’t just throwing out the answer he thinks I want to hear, or makes him look the best, or was the first to come to his mind. He cares enough to take the space and figure out what he really believes.
In the end he looked at me and said “I want to make decisions from a place that creates a space for the greatest transformation and best experience with people I truly enjoy spending time with.” We went on to discuss what this looked like and I felt so much more connected to him and his dreams.
No matter if the question is about something deep and meaningful or fun and playful I try to emulate Michael and take a deep breath before answering.
How would our life be different if we took a deep breath before we answered questions? before we made decisions? before we decided anything at all? How many misunderstandings would we avoid? How would we feel about ourselves? What would our relationships look like?
That is a life long practice. Taking big deep breaths.