My 19-year-old daughter has stopped talking: she's taken a self-imposed vow of silence. It's not a religious thing; more, I think, an identity-seeking, life-figuring-out thing. She said (on email, this is) that she's getting some "interesting" reactions from people. I told her, I think it's a fabulous idea.

The legendary architect and futurist Buckminster Fuller hit a deep crisis in his 20's. Having just gone broke and lost his infant daughter (to influenza, I think it was), he felt his life was a shambles. Standing on the verge of suicide (literally--about to jump into a wintry Lake Michigan), he stopped to think. His life was a mess, he reasoned, because he had spent it (thus far) listening to what other people told him. Bucky decided to close his mouth until he was sure that the words he spoke really came from him.

For the next two years, he didn't utter a single word. When he did, what came out was arguably hard to recognize as "normal English"--but the passion and conviction were unmistakably, unequivocally, unambiguously Bucky. It was only decades later that people came to recognize that the words also contained genius.

My point: You tap into your greatest power, authenticity and value when you are not speaking. It's not that what you say isn't important. That's just not where your power lies.

The most common way new distributors shoot themselves in the foot is by saying too much when they talk about the business. Why do people say too much? Because they don't yet really trust what they're talking about. True conviction is best conveyed through, not more words, but fewer; it dwells behind the words.

The most important words that will ever pass between you and your team are spoken by them--not by you. When you ask them what they want from the business, the purpose is not simply for you to know what they want: it is for them to say it out loud--to clearly articulate their own visions with their own tongues, without the safety of vagueness and generalities, without ambiguity or ambivalence.

Ironically, written goals are often among the least powerful declarations. When you write a goal down, it's just you telling you. It becomes real when you tell me. You'll only tell me if you trust me. You'll only trust me as a result of who you've decided I am--not what you've heard me say.

What you have most to offer others, you have to offer least through your words; in greater part, through what you do; but in greatest part, through who you are.

That's spiritual networking.


JOHN DAVID MANN is Editor of Networking Times.