April 19th, 2010
Recharging Batteries, Stimulating Creativity, and Working to Avoid the Rut
Last week we planned a getaway to Turks and Caicos in order to recharge our batteries, get creative, and get organized. Take a look at the picture album to see what I mean. This was a spontaneous spur-of-the-moment adventure suggested by Amber. Why did we go there? There isn’t really a lot to do there except relax, fish, swim or indulge in water-related sports. The water is beautiful. We went with Amber, Duane and our publisher friend (Haute Living) and Internet “gangster” entrepreneur Kamal Hotchandani.
I have come to believe that we need to work at not getting into a rut, especially as entrepreneurs. A rut can be any routine that becomes drudgery, a pattern we repeatedly grind through without moving forward. It can be the rut of a job, or anything that causes us to behave like the proverbial hamster on the treadmill. Running faster and faster to go nowhere is counterproductive. You can work at home and get in a rut. You can be your own boss and be on the reaction wheel, which is the worst of all ruts. On a reaction wheel, you react to one crisis after another and seem to attract them. You can be an entrepreneur caught in the trap of being stuck behind your desk or on the phone, trying to catch up on a to-do list that grows faster than you can ever complete it.
There’s no doubt that I am a believer in “work hard, play hard.” But even that mentality can eventually become somewhat of a routine. Time is our most valuable commodity and I am passionate about making it count and getting the most out of it. I hate wasting time or “killing time.” I prefer to make time count. So here is what I have discovered: A change of environment can be very refreshing, and help you to crystallize your thinking, create new perspectives, and stimulate new ideas. It can also help you to bond with family and friends and recharge your batteries. We try to get away at least once a month, and it isn’t necessarily about going somewhere for a reason.
The reason is to avoid the rut that sneaks up on you, to be with your family or the people you love, to recharge your batteries, to interact with bright minds, to meet new people and network, and to get work done, get organized, and crystallize our thinking. I have discovered some interesting things. You can work anywhere.
With the Internet and video conferencing, Internet networks, and text and cell service, you can get more done away sometimes than in your normal location, working in your regular “routine.” Quite often in that environment, you are frequently interrupted and are handcuffed by expectations people have. When you go away together, it brings you together more than traveling those separate routines or ruts that divide you when you are home. It’s funny how you can live in one place but be in separate worlds.
I always carry with me a “to-do list” and various project lists and folders for projects, as well as important proposals or articles to read. I have more than I can possibly do, but I get plenty done and I get better organized by prioritizing and reviewing what I want to work on. In this environment, I get to ask others what they think and for some reason they pay better attention. When they are home, they are distracted by their own worlds.
I am online and knocking work out. I have the world at my fingertips and can reach anyone I want. People are more attentive and responsive when you call them from your unfamiliar location. You get to eat meals together at restaurants and you can take time to do one cool activity per day with family and friends.
You also meet new people and make new contacts. When you are in the same environment and routine, you do not meet new people so you are trapped in a revolving door. There may not be immediate results from meeting these new people, but people lead to people and you are expanding your world instead of confining yourself to the same crowd. You never know where it will lead or when things will connect in some way in the future.
So here we are in Turks and Caicos. Kamal has a friend who runs the banking industry on the island, Andrew Ashcroft, the son of Lord Michael Ashcroft from the UK. Talk about a great host and guide! We were wired. We had an incredible villa-estate (reasonably priced) that was like something out of a movie, right on the beach. We had our own Internet cafe on the patio and we all accomplished more work that we normally do.
Each day we did something special—like going to Parrot Island on a boat for lunch and swimming. The next day Amber, Duane and I went horseback riding on the beach. The horses cantered down the beach and went in the water and actually swam with us riding them. We brainstormed a variety of ideas with Kamal. Loren and I got to discuss a lot of great ideas and make decisions.
We came back refreshed, out of the rut, organized, clear, and with more done than usual. Of course I am still behind. You will always be behind, and will never get caught up if you are going places in life. You will always have a to-do list and full e-mail box. So don’t let it bury you alive. Stay recharged, refreshed, organized and focused. Get out of the rut without getting behind.
This secret is as my greatest discovery: you do not have to live in one place — you can have multiple homes, move around and you can work from anywhere thanks to the internet, your phone, video conferencing, networking and a to-do list and project folders. It’s all about the joy of the journey. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Variety is the spice of life. Don’t be a hamster on a hamster wheel and burn yourself out while going nowhere. All you need to do is to keep growing! Expand your horizons and your circle of influence. Keep the funnel and bean jar full — there are no contacts or new people in your house or your routine. Have fun making it happen!