Golden : A book review by Bob Morris

Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise
Justin Zorn and Leigh Marz
Harper Wave/An imprint of HarperCollins (May 2022)

“If speech is of silver, then silence is of gold.” King Solomon

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of the valuable insights that Susan Cain provides in her classic work, Quiet. Throughout most of her book, she takes a balanced approach to the immensely difficult task of examining the advantages and disadvantages of being primarily an introvert as well as those of being primarily an extrovert. I use the term “primarily” in the context of culture as well as one’s temperament, personality, preferences, tendencies, and (yes) volition.

“If given a choice… is a helpful phrase. Some people dread being the center of attention whereas the behavior of others indicates a pathological need for it. Not all introverts are shy and reluctant, however, and not all extroverts are bombastic and impulsive. Moreover, expediency can also come into play.” As Walt Whitman affirms in Song of Myself, most people are “large”…and contain “multitudes.” Heaven knows, Whitman did.

I agree with Justin Zorn and Leigh Marz that “true silence, profound silence, is more [much more] than the absence of noise. It’s this deep presence,” also: knowing when to speak and when to abide. They wrote this book to help those who read it to reach what Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. would characterize as silence “on the other side of complexity.”

Zorn and Marz: “When we seek the very deepest silence, we’ll find that it doesn’t really depend on the auditory or informational conditions of our lives. It’s an unalterable presence that’s always here and now, deep inside. It’s the pulse of life.” They explain how and why to tune in to it.

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Zorn and Marz’s coverage:

o Cyrus Habib (Pages 13-15, 22-23, 28-29, and 63-64)
o Information noise and attention (17-18, 289-295, and 327-328)
o Economic measurement (24-27 and 284-288)
o Individual experiences of silence (34-40 and 43-47)
o Social engagement (52-67)

o Faith Fuller (71-73, 142-143, and 177-178)
o Internal silence (89-109)
o Movement (90-91, 93-94, 173-175, and 177-178)
o Neuroscience (94-101)

o Self-knowledge (123-126)
o Listening (138-139, 165-167, 236-237, and 315-316)
o Prison experience (147-157 and 151-152)
o Silence breaks (163-192 and 315-319)
o Silence practices for work, conflict resolution, and collaboration (223-249, 242-245, 281-282, and 321-323)

o Brainstorming and experimentation (233-236 and 321-322)
o Shared silence (236-238, 250-251, 258-259, 267-268, and 304-305)
o Collective effervescence (261-264)
o Public Policy (275-300 and 326-328)
o Cultural silence (301-314)

Some of Zorn and Marz’s most valuable insights are assembled within five separate but interrelated categories:


I strongly recommend that you check out this material (on Pages 315-328) once a month or at least once a quarter in order to review key points but also to stimulate or re-stimulate your own thinking about the given issues within and beyond your workplace.

No brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the quality of information, insights, and counsel that Justin Zorn and Leigh Marz provide in this book. However, I do I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of them and of their work. I envy those who have not as yet read Golden because the material can help them to reach what was previously referred to as “the other side of complexity.”

In this context, I am again reminded of what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi characterizes as flow: “Complete concentration on the task; clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback; transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down); the experience is intrinsically rewarding; effortlessness and stress-free; there is a balance between challenge and skills; actions and awareness are merged, eliminating self-conscious rumination; and there is a feeling of total control over the given task.” Athletes call this “being in the zone.”

Here’s your opportunity to master “the power of silence in a world of noise.”

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