Pausing for a Moment to Learn…from Hollywood?

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Ideas for Quietly Bringing Change

By Kirk McCarley

Kirk Mccarley

A few days back I read an article by Tim Denning, “Be Aware of the Quiet Ones like Keanu Reeves—They are the Ones that Actually Make You Think.”  In all honesty my knowledge of the actor Reeves is limited.  I know of him from “The Matrix” and “John Wick,” but beyond that he’s quite off my radar.  In fact, as I learned from Denning’s piece, he is off many tracking devices.

Although Reeves has his place among the most iconic recent Hollywood actors, he doesn’t fit the mold.  Rarely does he get the attention associated with so many celebrities, seemingly still trying to figure out how to be famous.  Rather, he is reserved and comfortable with contemplation, hesitation, and …silence.

Some years ago he sat for an interview with a Rolling Stone journalist.  When asked “why he acts,” Reeves sat stone-faced silent for 42 seconds, finally replying, “Uh, it’s fun.”

Upon diving further into the narrative it became apparent that although Keanu Reeves’ personality and behavior as a part of his comfortably unorthodox brand were the tease, the real story was about the power of silence.  Denning shares the need for quiet people.

  • Quiet people make you think.
  • Thinking brings clarity.
  • Thinking can lead to change.

Conversely though, there’s encouragement to be loud.  Make your presence felt!  Allow your voice to be heard!  Get your seat at the table!

There are five basic human senses.  Speaking is not among them.  Consider the ones that are.  How about that ingrained visualization of meeting your child for the first time?  A second sense might conjure the smell of freshly baked bread.   What about the taste of our favorite ice cream on a hot summer day?  Or the soothing sensation of touching those sand granules from our beaches coursing through our fingers?  The sound of the waves hitting that same sand?  Again, nothing about talking.

Denning further lists five points as it pertains to Reeves:

  • Silence breeds curiosity.  That curiosity then often leads to a conversation where someone will listen to you.
  • Being quiet interrupts the pattern.  We all know people can’t resist the urge to talk.  We also know they can’t resist the temptation to hear from the people who are extremely quiet.
  • Pauses give time for reflection allowing our minds to think at a deeper level.
  • The smarter you become, the less you speak.  Intelligence is letting other people talk first, listening with intention, practicing saying less, and leading with empathy.

At this time especially might it be more important than ever to pause and think, asking ourselves, “who needs to be heard?”  A person of another race or nationality?  Another political persuasion?  Someone much older or a lot younger?  Call them or make a time to see them.  When you do, a comfortable way for commencing the dialogue could be something along the lines of “how are you?,” rather than “what do you think about…?”  How about allowing them to set the agenda.

Notice inflections or changes in body language if you are in person.  Repeat back what you are hearing said.  Most importantly be positive and encouraging.  In the moment.  Hopeful.  Loving.

My son came to visit recently.  We cycled a little more than 100 kilometers in the countryside to the north and inland of where we live.  During the ride there was some talking, but the enjoyment of the time was more the view of the terrain, the physical exertion, the sounds of birds and wind, and the sense of achievement.  We were just present in the moment.  Nothing much needed to be said.  The communication transcended words.

A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kirk McCarley is a Certified Professional Coach as well as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM-CP Certified. He also is a Production Assistant for both college football and basketball for ESPN and leads group cycling classes as a Certified Spinning instructor. Contact,, or call  314-677-8779.

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