Rosemary Gudelj on Finding Time for Silence Every Day

The Water.org Interim Director on how she spends the first 10 minutes of her day and her approach to failure.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Rosemary Gudelj: Sit in silence for 10 minutes.

TG: What gives you energy?
RG: Two things give me an equal rush of energy.

· The fluid, fast and unpredictable events and communications that accompany work in public affairs and public relations for Water.org

· Open and vulnerable conversations about those things that seem to undermine our highest vision for ourselves — on the other side of fear and anxiety there is wonder and sometimes brilliance.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
RG: Operating just over the edge of what I know gives great verve to my life.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
RG: Illusions: The Adventure of a Reluctant Messiah. That book taught my 14-year old self to move toward fear.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
RG: My phone is my sleep timer so it is always bedside. I have it set for silence from 10pm to 6am.

TG: How do you deal with email?
RG: In as real time as I can manage. Communicating through email helps me to be flexible, agile, and responsive. I do block two-hour email free time at the end of each day for review and to set my intentions for the next day.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
RG: Those are gold minutes. 5–7 minutes to be in silence, then give attention to thoughts that bubble up and write them down. An idea sometimes comes to the surface that holds the potential to be game changing. At the very least, I find a new point of view on current circumstances.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
RG: Not too long ago, actually. I was trying to fill three roles and did not feel I could compromise on any of them. It was the right thing to do and I willingly paid the cost. Truth is, I feel I increased my capacity through the exercise.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
RG: I failed to act when someone was behaving badly. Instead of directly confronting the behavior, I covered for it and enabled it. I am still working with this failure by challenging the unhealthy beliefs that were at the bottom of my behavior in this situation. I won’t repeat the behavior regardless of whether I come to full understanding or not, but I do want to understand.


Rosemary Gudelj has spent the last 15 years involved in nonprofit work. Her current service to Water.org includes interim leadership of Global Advocacy, Public Affairs and Office of the CEO.