Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love this: virtue or vice emit a breath every moment.
This phrase captures two such important ideas:
The first idea: our inner worlds show up with us wherever we go and we often are totally oblivious to the fact that they are releasing a quality that is palpable to those around us
The second idea: our breathing is thankfully effortless most of the time and we do not have to tell ourselves to breathe and yet, we have total and absolute control over our breath. So, too, we can choose to communicate certain intangible qualities with full intention
Think of any meeting you have ever been in. You walk in the room and it is rife with “virtue or vice”. Are you reacting to the actions of those in the room? Probably not. There is the usual- small talk, smiling, getting food from the side table. People are shuffling papers and adjusting their seats. Some may even be looking at the clock.
Imagine this. A meeting has been called to discuss the deployment of a serious cost cutting measure. People will lose their jobs. Morale will suffer. The goals will not shift and everyone is asked to do more with less. Some of the people in that room are loaded for bear. Others are quaking in their boots. Some are looking around the room wondering who they can throw under the bus to save their own skin. A video would not capture this. But the air is pungent with self-preservation, ill intent and naked fear. This is what we bring into a room and into a relationship.
It can be unconscious like breathing.
It can be conscious like breathing.
What is the impact you want to create?
This is a question my clients and I tackle a lot. It doesn’t usually result in different actions. The very act of connecting with an intention creates the shift.
Try this: Think about something coming up in the next few hours- ask yourself the question, “What is the atmosphere I want to contribute to?” “How can I connect with that quality?” Then bring that intention with you.