For the past few weeks I have conducted a secret experiment. You probably haven’t noticed a thing and that was exactly my point.
Let me explain.
One fine day I was wondering what would happen if I’d stop publishing my blog and reduce my presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to a minimum.
After 21 days I got my answer:
That’s right: nothing happened.
No one emailed me to ask how I was doing. No one wanted to know why I hadn’t posted a new article in a while. Not a single Facebook friend checked in to find out how things were going (unless you count the barrage of birthday wishes).
What a relief!
If only I had done this experiment earlier. It would have saved me from the self-imposed pressure of having to publish something at regular intervals.
It could have stopped me from taking myself too seriously. And more importantly, I would have discovered how much time I had on my hands to do the things that matter most.
You see, as you and I go about our busy business, it’s so easy to get caught up in our work and forget to take care of the goose with the golden eggs.
I know the economy is in terrible shape. I know money is tight. But regardless of how hard we’re trying to stay afloat, there’s no excuse for putting ourselves last on the list. It’s the golden rule:
Love others like you love yourself
We personify our product. We embody our service. If we don’t take care of ourselves, our product suffers. That’s why all of us could benefit from a healthy dose of egotism in several areas of our life. To name a few:
That the United States has become a sedentary society should be no news to you. Friends visiting from Holland were shocked by the number of obese people they encountered while traveling. They said to me:
“We knew it was bad, but we had no idea it was this bad.”
In a study of over 17,000 Canadians, it was found that individuals who led a sedentary lifestyle were over 50% more likely to die from all causes, than their non-sedentary counterparts. This risk was not dependent upon age, smoking, or even physical activity levels.
I know I’ve become a desk jockey and I have gained a considerable amount of weight in the last few years. What’s even worse, I’ve come up with these stupid excuses to explain why I am in such bad shape:
“I’m not getting any younger so it’s only natural to put on a couple of extra pounds.”
“I need my computer to work. I can’t be moving and typing at the same time.”
“At the end of a long day I deserve a sweet treat or an ice-cold beer.”
Of course I know better. Ultimately, I am the boss of my own lifestyle. I determine how much or how little I move and eat. However, there’s a big difference between knowing what’s going on, and doing something about it.
That’s why I decided to be egotistical and bring my body back into shape.
Earlier on, I wrote about how bored I was by people recycling the same old topics in our field. It’s like still water but without any depth. Give it a few more weeks and it will start to reek and rot.
That’s why I have used the past month to catch up on my reading. I purposely steered away from anything having to do with my line of work. I am a firm believer in the stimulating effects of cross-pollination.
My second egotistical intellectual self-endulgement is music. Music is nourishment for the mind as well as food for the soul. I cannot live without it, and that’s why I started to spend more time improvising at the piano.
As I mentioned before, dear friends from The Netherlands whom I had not seen in ten years, came over for a prolonged visit. I’m telling you: Skype, Facebook or any other type of social technology is a poor substitute for seeing people in person.
Don’t get me wrong: I am grateful for modern means of communication, but using them is a bit like watching the Food Network. We observe people preparing delicious dishes, but we’re missing essential ingredients. We can’t smell or taste what’s on the menu.
I firmly believe that the quality of our life is greatly determined by the quality of our relationships. Taking the time to strengthen those relationships is vital and invigorating. Besides, I got to speak Dutch for days, and the world is a different place when you’re speaking another language.
Taking time off allowed me to work on a book. As a professional narrator, I get paid to read other people’s work. In a way, that’s re-creation.
At the same time, I have a strong inner urge to create my own material. I won’t tell you what I’ve been working on, but once again it was born out of healthy egotism. Writing is a way for me to release what’s been brewing inside.
END THE EXPERIMENT
My 21-day silence has been remarkably beneficial, but does this mean that I will continue my experiment?
Hold your horses. I’m not a hermit.
My blog is read by thousands of people per month and the number is steadily growing.
Just as a composer should never stop composing while there’s still music inside of him, I will keep on writing. Even if these words end up being nothing but notes to an egotistical bastard.
Ultimately, it’s the quality of the music that matters.
Not the applause.
photo credit: Skyler Simpson