It's that time again. The pied pipers of business performance beckon us to create new goals, forge new alliances, attract new customers, and hire great people. Unfortunately, we carry too many of our old habits, routines, and tools into the new year. How can we ensure that our new ideas and plans are not tainted by the old ones?
I just returned from a six-day retreat, where I had plenty of time to examine some old ideas, memories, and habits. Over those six days, I never used technology, email, instant messaging, or social media tools. Instead, I filled my day with meditation, naps, walks in the forest, and silent community meal times.
This retreat meant a lot to me this year, even though I have taken countless restorative getaways over the past decade. I am celebrating 10 years in business, so this retreat held special meaning. As I watched the sun set over the verdant hills of the Maryland countryside, I knew I was in the right place, and that new insights would emerge.
The biggest insight that I gained from that quiet time in the woods is that obsessive goal-setting and planning needs to be tempered with stillness. My countless years telling my clients about the value of planning, writing down goals, and pursuing those goals with passion were not spent in vain; however, my approach was missing the silent factor. It's essential to sustaining momentum and vitality.
Instead of waiting a year to take a retreat, schedule a strategy session, or review your customer accounts, what would be possible if you scheduled five minutes every day to reflect in silence? Before you break into a cold sweat at the thought of temporarily turning off your electronic devices, hear me out.
I started this new daily routine, and I can already see the benefits. I feel a higher level of ease, discernment, and confidence. Client and team conversations are going more smoothly. My "to do" list gets done without the panic and struggle of the past.
You see, without examining one's life each day, and the impact your business is having on others, money and deal making does not matter. It's a hollow, powerless, unexplored life. You are not making your family, community, or customers' lives better. You are actually contributing to their busyness and suffering. Author Pico Iyer recently said in the New York Times that "the more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight."
Do you ever feel like a tortured teenager too? I believe we are all feeling the pangs of over-connectedness to some degree.
Albert Einstein reminds us that “A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
With a little collective reflection, even an old quote from a noted genius feels new again.