I’m started writing this post on a quiet morning while camping in Brent Campground – Algonquin Park. To get here you travel about 4 hours north of Toronto, hang a right and travel 40 Kms down a windy gravel road. Once you’re here you are rewarded with something pretty special.
There are only 24 drive-in campsites here spread out across about 3 kms of shore line. Our site is right on the waterfront with the campground’s main dock in front of us. It’s an incredible spot as for a week we’ve been able to swim, boat and hike without moving our truck.
Brent is disconnected with no electricity, no cell service or even a pay phone. Actually there is a pay phone but it’s only a part of the history of the town now and not connected to anything.
Over the past few years we have come to love this disconnected reality of being in Brent. There are two types of disconnecting here in Brent.
The first and obvious one is the physical disconnection in which I have no choice but to ignore everything internet. There are no land lines or cell service here so simply put I choose to be disconnected for a week. Our only source for weather is to go old school and listen to a radio station about 60 kms from here. I know the emails are piling up, there’s lots of reading to catch up on, instant messages going unanswered, and so much more. All of these realities are just fine with me as I know the world is going on and will still be there when I get back.
The second type of disconnection is where I have the opportunity to unplug from the noise of a busy life. Don’t get me wrong I love my life and everything I have going with family & friends, coaching, writing and so much more. However, some days just seem to wiz by without the chance to stop and smell the coffee (which I have brewing on the stove right now and it’s smelling pretty good!)
Disconnecting has allowed me to slow down for just a little while. Where the most important decision of the day is shall we go fishing or just go for a nice paddle and take in nature. It’s where we can pull up on a remote beach for a little snack and to let Bree play for a little bit. Where even sleeping to 9am is possible! (trust me … not typical for me)
What this time has allowed me to do is to move aside all the busy active stuff in my life. That action oriented stuff will always be there and I know when we drive out to the highway in a couple hours it will come flooding onto my phone.
Some time ago I learned something pretty profound from one of my clients. I’ve been spending a large amount of time recently trying to ‘live simply’. It’s led to a lot of time spent thinking about how to simplify, how to reduce stress, how to get things done without getting overrun by too much.
What I learned from my client and don’t think I realized until just this week is I have it backwards. Instead of ‘live simply’ what if I were to just ‘simply live’?
What I found here is some inner peace and clarity. It’s allowed me to peal back all the busyness and get down to what really defines me. My values. My purpose. Me.
Now that I’m back in the connected world I know this is giving me a renewed clarity and intention in my activities.
Leading for change
In our busy world I frequently encounter people, groups and leaders who believe we all have to be kept busy. Productivity is important! Fully utilizing resources will keep us profitable. The end result of these beliefs is people who show me their calendars in which they’re double and triple booked from 8am to 6pm. They don’t take vacation as the work will keep piling up. Simply put there’s very little if any time to reconnect with themselves.
When we’re just busy all the time and do not allow ourselves the time to disconnect to reconnect to our purpose or values. It’s far too easy to loose sight of them. When we become disconnected with ourselves we become disengaged with the work we are doing. When people are disengaged it shows in the quality of their work, productivity, punctuality, health, stress and so much more.
If you’re a leader and looking to help your people a great place to start is by giving them a little space to disconnect. Stop the insanity of 9 to 5 meetings plus a day job! When you see someone working hard 60, 70 or more hours per week step in to help them regain their life. There’s a reason we have a 40 hour work week – people need some time to disconnect and reconnect.
The payback for providing this space will be incredible!
My wish for each and every one of you
Take some time to disconnect. To get away and leave your busy life behind for just a short while. Your life is a gift and I want you to be your most authentic and true self. I want you to be happy!
Lovely post! A few years ago my client insisted that I delete my email account from my phone before I went on vacation because she had read an article about the importance of disconnecting–it’s made a big difference in my ability to recharge and relax. I think of it as a way of being present to what’s going on in the moment; if I am on vacation, then I focus on vacation stuff. If I am at work, I focus on work stuff. Email has a sneaky way of following you and forcing its way into your present moment regardless of what else is going on.
What a great idea … to delete an email account from a phone. Perhaps that should become a corporate policy everywhere?
Great post Mike!
Good to hear of your experience and I know I struggle with this. There is time, there is ability, just have to do it.
I will often not do any work Sundays and that gives me a great relief knowing that I don’t even have to think about work. Slowly.
Someone has convinced us that busy is good. But, busy is not good. Production is good. Fulfillment is good. Doing is good.
Thanks for the great thoughts, enjoy the rest of your summer and heres to being happy!!
Lovely. Well said Mike! Thank you.