Business As Unusual: Breaking It To Make Something Better

In 1952, in an effort to prevent clumsy or careless people from breaking items in a shop, a Miami Beach store owner posted a sign that read: “You break it, you buy it.” The catchy phrase served as a warning to shoppers. This type of sign can now be seen in many boutiques. A different sign was placed in a local potter's shop that read; “If you break it, we’ll make it into something better.” The notion of "breaking it and making it into something better" comes to mind as a great analogy for what transpired over the course of our recent break ...

"Almost everything works better if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."

A few minutes? How about a few months? In our case, three glorious months —and boy, are we 'working better' because of it. So many folks across the universe lifted us up with their words of encouragement and support as we set off on our long-planned Radical Sabbatical , that we promised to keep an "unplugged" journal for sharing upon our return. And we did. And we're back. And right up front,  we want to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding during our absence.

We're hopeful that sharing the highlights of our experience will encourage others first; to recognize that "self-care isn't selfish" and second; to take a break by totally unplugged from the internet, mobile phone, computer, iPad, and other online devices for a day, two days, a weekend, a week or even longer. Call it a digital detox, taking as much time as you can to rediscover that elusive "gift of presence" as we have.

Our Journey of Rediscovery

"We rediscovered the magic of giving important discussions our undivided time and attention versus what's left of both at the end of the day."
Looking back, our escape from it all fell into three natural phases. Unsurprisingly, month one was the "decompress and let go month", with us pumping the brakes each day to gradually slow down from 24/7 hustle to 24/7 calm. A month of letting go, transitioning, exhaling, and ultimately surrendering to serenity. Months two was about (repeatedly) giving ourselves permission to breathe, and simply relax –not seeking to fill every minute of this newfound time with "stuff". A lot of reflection and recovery. A recognition that it was much less about our ability and much more about our availability. More awareness and authenticity. A state of peaceful bliss, as we cultivated our presence —with less “doing” and more “being”. More spontaneity. More fun. We rediscovered the magic of giving important discussions our undivided time and attention versus whatever’s left of both at the end of the day.

For us, the feeling of waking up in the morning and just sitting back, becoming more of a participant versus observer, brought with it an unexpected sense of relief, liberty, and a priceless moment to actually enjoy each moment —just as it is. Again, really listening and talking to each other without distractions just felt a bit like old times, like when we were children. Noticeable over time was how calm, free, careless, and lighthearted we became. Days without interruptions or anxiety. Days of peace and quiet and intentional, wonderful, silence. A feeling of timelessness. Surprisingly, the feeling of restless or bored never entered the picture, as we were so enamored by a feeling of liberation. We were hooked on the notion of enjoying more with less. Less noise. Less compulsion. Less discomfort. Less reliance. And we developed even more gratitude for the simple ingredients right in front of us for a joyful life.

"Somewhere between handling challenges, taking care of business, and juggling responsibilities, you may have lost pieces of yourself that you long to recover. Perhaps they were buried and forgotten long ago. Rediscovering is more than just being reminded of these golden treasures. It is being able to excavate your riches by pulling them out, polishing them off, and allowing them to shine again."

Susan C. Young

Preserving the Magic

As month 3/our final month came around, we naturally began contemplating our return, but with an escalating determination to fully grasp and preserve the "magic" of our sabbatical experience along with the priceless wisdom gained. Back on the "business as usual" hamster wheel was not for us. We soon recognized that it wasn't really about chasing that elusive work/life balance, but rather cultivating the notion of work/life harmony. In other words, we needed to step back and "reimagine" our approach to all that we do to ensure that "self-care" remained at the forefront and that we didn't simply fall into the "Groundhog Day" trap —repeating history day after day. As our final month took us into the new year, our thought process shifted away from the age-old concept of "resolutions" towards the fresher concept of "dissolutions" —taking things off the table that work against harmony while applying a bit of "if it ain't broke, break it" unconventional wisdom —perhaps making it into something better.

Having escaped all the noise for so long, we were able to move forward with a bit of reckless abandon coupled with an amazing level of clarity and oneness of purpose. Our forward motion was galvanized by an unwavering commitment to approach the "reimagination" process differently. Question everything. Ditch the unnecessary. Let go. Declutter. Set reasonable versus lofty expectations. Say yes more often without hesitating to say no more often. Nothing sacrosanct.  No boundaries. No exceptions. No kidding.

Finding our Flow

We literally immersed ourselves into what's called a "flow state". In positive psychology, a flow state (also known colloquially as being in the zone), is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time. (Source: Wikipedia). And that's what we did. And boy, was it transformational across our personal and professional lives.

On the personal front, we immersed ourselves into a series of deep-dive discussions of anything found within our daily "life as usual" bucket. People. Relationships. Travel. Fun. Not Fun. Auto-pilot stuff, Etc. Pretty much, taking stock of our lives in every respect imaginable. And then we emptied the bucket, sorted out the contents, determined what was really important and what was not. We refilled the bucket by intentionally shifting our time, attention, and focus to the former. A lighter bucket emerged, but one full of more time to discover and enjoy what really matters. An opportunity to bask in the glow of fewer stressors.

We brought the same mindset to everything in our "business as usual" bucket. Routines. Schedules. To-do lists. Post-it notes. Clutter. Expectations. Pressure points. Angst. Stressors. It was time for business as usual to morph into "business as unusual". We literally reimagined everything under the 360° Nation umbrella. Every Page. Every Channel. Every Event. Everything ditched or refreshed. Including a renewed commitment to Goodworks 360°—our "for good" Foundation.

Looking Back As We Look Forward

In the end, our digital detox evolved into an unplanned, extraordinary journey of self-rediscovery from top to bottom.  We developed a keen appreciation for the fact that time is a finite resource; once spent, it’s gone. We can’t get time back, but we can be selective and purposeful with the time we have and how we spend it. We can take control by "saying yes to less" and appreciating the white space in our diary. We can protect our precious time for the activities and people that give our lives the most meaning and joy.

We rediscovered each other and reaffirmed our purpose, or our "why". The why that fuels our passion, encompasses our work, our relationships, wrapping around everything we do. We emerged from "finding our flow" ready to live our lives in a more intentional way, with a sharper focus on everything that really matters.

Take it from us. When we learn to use, enjoy, and experience the benefits of technology, but not be attached to it or dominated by it,  we are liberated. And with liberation, comes that keen awareness of the simple ingredients right in front of us for a joyful life. Our relationships are our bedrock, our foundation. We need to nurture them with the love and attention they really deserve. Though we may be caregivers or breadwinners for others, we need to remember to care for ourselves along the way. Because self-care really truly isn't selfish. Step back for a moment. Take a break. Take some "unplugged" time to transform twenty twenty-two into twenty twenty—YOU.

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