Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Offline and Loving It

Or maybe I should rename this blog “Offline and Needing It”.

I got turned on to the idea of disconnecting from the world many years ago when I worked for a brilliant owner of an insurance company in Canada who had regularly scheduled “Quiet Hours” and “Quiet Retreats”.

However, I got really plugged into living it when I was a Senior Enterprise Strategy Advisor with Microsoft in New York.

Bill Gates used to hold semi-annual “Think Week” events where he would disconnect from the world and contemplate past results and future plans for the Big M.  Employees of Microsoft could contribute to this thinking process by submitting ideas that would be vetted by any and all Microsoft employees.  The winners of these merciless, running-of-the-gauntlet, sometimes ego-filled “I’m smarter than you” evaluations would be placed on Bill’s agenda when he disappeared for reflection, contemplation and planning.

As a participant and winner of one of these processes, I got some insight into what it takes to clear one’s mind and focus on the next big thing.  I also learned a lot about the value of unplugging from the overwhelming information flow that hits us 24x7.

It is also refreshing to unplug from the steady stream of media and social media whose intentions are less about giving us knowledge and data and more about trying to convince us to think in a specific way, either in conjunction with or contrary to how we live.

Surgeon General’s Warning

Anyone who is plugged in 24x7 like me may find the withdrawal symptoms disconcerting and perhaps even “painful”.

However, once the pain of disconnecting from “the Matrix” is complete, the silence that results provides a powerful tool that enables one to reflect, learn, meditate, contemplate and plan the next big thing for family, business, clients or colleagues who rely on us.

A Source of Important Reminders

Disconnecting provides a reminder that we don’t need to be plugged in all the time.

It is a reminder that recharging is important.

But it is also a reminder that the world, amazingly enough, can actually survive well without us - a positive lesson in humility and self-reliance that is useful for all of us to learn, including those who rely on us and feel afraid to move forward without us.  Whether the latter is the truth or a part of our Lone Ranger fantasy can be discerned (and often shot down) as a result of this process.

The process is highly recommended and is as unique in execution as the uniqueness within each human beings.  It should be noted that it’s not like a family vacation.  While vacations are important and fun, the purpose of a “Think Week” break  is different in execution and results.

It’s like riding down a fast zip line, jumping out of a plane (with a parachute hopefully) or trying some previously undiscovered food delicacy - until you’ve tried it, you don’t know what you are missing.

Catch you on the other side once I have reinserted myself into the Matrix!

In service and servanthood,


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