The Power of Silence, Solitude & Reflection & How to Do It?

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Hey guys,

I realised this morning when I was out for an almost 2-hour walk by myself (more on that later) that this ‘blog’ is becoming more of a journal, which I’ll write in and return from time to time to post thoughts, feelings and ideas that I have

This is how I’m happiest and I’ve been going through something of a discovery process over the last few days.

The reading you know about I believe – but the reflection is something definitely very new for me.

I’ve never as far as I can recall spent an hour walking by myself – let alone two hours…not without having somewhere to go.

I used to have a friend called Amy Kamara and there were things I never understood about her behaviour that now – 15-20 years later I do.

When we were at university and then in the one or two years after that we were friends she had two peculiar habits.

She would not be very responsive nor revealing about her life at all via Whatsapp/Facebook or any other form of private messaging. She never criticised anyone and she used to enjoy going on long walks by herself with no set direction/destination.

Everything about all of the above felt wrong to me – and I used to criticise her for it as I didn’t understand the point of it. Why NOT open up about everything that is happening in your life? Why bother walking anywhere without a destination? Why not be hyper-responsive on messages?

I’ve been reading Essentialism as it was recommended to me by Kevin Wimer and one or two other people. At the heart of the audible which I’m about 75 minutes into (it’s around 6 hours) it discusses the power of focussing upon the essential.

About separating the non-essential many into the vital few – and from this, I believe to live an enriching life you must cut out much of the noise in your life, focus on what’s important in order to achieve your highest potential

I believe that I was noise in Amy’s life, I see more and more now that time is short and that every minute of the day we spend is important and not a moment should be wasted.

It should be enjoyed, cherished, utilised and made the most of, and so I’m on this path of making sweeping changes in my life.

One of them is happening now in this very blog. By the time you get to it you may well see some images in here but that’ll be Lydia’s efforts.

For me – it is MOST essential I write and nothing more. Nothing that is nice to have (i.e all of the images) but get in the way of the vital ONE THING – which is the actual writing.

I’m not truly sure what Amy’s intentions (if any) were with her walks, inconsistent messaging and distance she maintained from well, at least me (and others I’m sure) – but I think of her now because she’s still the only person I know that’s been going for long walks alone for hours at a time.

The only other person I know that does it is my best friend Luc – and being honest he’s also always spoken about the power of solitude. 

During my late 20s when I was living with Luc and his family in Lausanne – the closest I got to experiencing this was with him when we went on long walks side by side by walking in silence. I didn’t know the purpose of it as such then either.

Cal Newport talks about the power of man being in nature and how solitude is an incredible way to focus upon specific problems in your life, to daydream, to see where your mind falls and to really just THINK about things.

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Today marked the third day in a row that I’ve gone for a walk lasting an hour or more.

Each time I’ve headed out I’ve come back with revelation after revelation. Greg Mckeown (Essentialism) and Cal Newport have given me a framework to apply to my walks and it’s incredible what I feel I’m discovering.

Thinking is work. For someone like me who prides himself on minimising the gap as far as I can between thinking and doing – that’s a revelation to me. My ethos has always been execution matters more – and with this in mind…

What is there to think about? If it makes sense let’s just go ahead and do it – without necessarily considering the implications that any action has.

And this (amongst many others) approach is a little flawed.

Every action has a trade-off – no matter how big or small. So in deciding to start one venture or one activity – you DO sabotage another, no matter how small – in one way or another you will sabotage that activity.

And the damage may well be minor – but that damage let’s not forget – is ONGOING and continual. 

So in deciding (in my case) to have literally 10-15 different things I’m working on at the same time means everything gets watered down so badly that the damage to each is ongoing and continual.

Does Pearl Lemon deserve to have a founder who’s not treating it as a priority? Who’s constantly looking for a means to escape? This, of course, begs a bigger question. If I could only do ONE thing what would it be? What would I choose? 

What is essential? What is non-essential? What will REALLY move the needle in the work I’m involved in? How can I turn the 10-15 things into 1-5? And then less again?

I’m not ready to make wide-sweeping changes yet, but I’m beginning to make a series of smaller ones.

Amongst them is realising I need to have a guiding philosophy to live by. I won’t write one just yet because it scares me frankly. Having a code. A set of maxims by which I can judge things and decide whether they should occupy time in my life.

That’s probably the biggest learning of these walks I’m going on – my time is EXTREMELY valuable and I should be intentional and thoughtful with how I use this time.

That has meant a series of changes of late:

  1. I said no to a promoter of my content whose continually asking me for favours – it might lead to the end of my ‘promotion’ but I’ve come to see that overall that promotion is not in line with my goals
  2. I have said NO to launching 3 eCommerce businesses at once as was my plan. I’ll focus upon one
  3. I have laid down some initial guidelines for my joint venture with a development team where it seems easiest to just jump into doing 10 things at once
  4. I have said NO to getting more involved in the affiliate businesses I have as well as the internal work of Pearl Lemon – I’ll allow the team I have to do their work

There are other changes that are afoot which I won’t detail just yet.

But I want to point out to whoever’s reading that these decisions came out of solitude. Came out of my walks in combination with books.

And that you can really make some startling discoveries and then changes in your approach and philosophy if you take the time to really just reflect upon what you’re doing – what is it’s worthiness – and if it’s leading you in the direction of true success.

McKeown and Newport talk about the power of reflection, analysis and really just thinking about things.

I’m like a no-thinking commando leading my infantry, now I want to become more of a commander leading a team of commandos.

Slowly, slowly I’m getting there.

Through walking in silence for one hour a day…just really thinking about things.