No news we live in a new society, a society of constant information. Figures from July 2017 tell us that Ninety per cent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Our current output of data is roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes a day. A figure hard to grasp. The direction of the world steadily becomes more and more connected with an ever-increasing number of electronic devices, only sets to grow over the coming years. The good part of all this new technology is that we can be in different places and don’t “miss” out on anything. However, the information and these devices are also stealing valuable time for other things, like valuable time being by yourself.
In my childhood I grew up on a farm in the middle of Sweden, we lived in the countryside next door to my grandparents who lived in the main house. Nature was around the corner and one of the earliest thing my dad thought me was hunting. With that came handling a shotgun and a rifle. As a young boy I was very excited of course, but when I grew older, I discovered the best part of hunting wasn’t about shooting it was about solitude. I can still remember the first time my dad took me moose hunting in the northern part of Sweden. The adrenaline was pumping, and I was excited to be part of the team of 20 people and if we would shoot a moose or not. We were placed in different spots in the forest. When we all were in place and reported back to base camp, they let the dogs loose. I thought my dad was going to be on high alert from the first second, but no, he surprised me. He started a nice little fire, made himself and me comfortable, and then he said with a smile, “Now it’s time to enjoy”. He instructed me to be quiet, but use your ears, listen to the dogs and the sounds of nature. That is how you will hear the moose coming our way. Then he sat there with the rifle on his knee, and I could see him enjoying himself very much, enjoying the nature, enjoying the quietness, enjoying the solitude with me. Back then there were no mobile phones, no other disturbing devices just me, my dad some adventure and enjoying solitude together without posting about it on social media.
This is one of the most memorable things I remember about my dad, he died too young in 2000 at only an age of 56, but thank you, dad, for teaching me about solitude. If this story would have played out today, I would probably be there sitting quietly with my dad but with a mobile phone playing a game, being bored. Probably posting something about it on social media. Missed the sound of the moose coming our way, missed looking at the stunning nature, listening to the silent forest.
I have been privileged to live in different countries and different types of habitats. From big cities like London, Stockholm and now Edinburgh to more rural places in Sweden and Spain I still have to remind myself to practice solitude. Every time I go for a long 3-5h hike by myself, or if I bring one of my children, the result is always the same. I come back more calm, with more energy and often without thinking of it with a solution to a problem I have been carrying for a while. Also, there is a considerable difference in spending time alone and spending time in solitude. It’s not only me discovering this, more and more research is also showing exactly what I am experiencing while I practice solitude.
When growing up, there was a saying when someone left the office for a day off or holiday, the door said: “Gone fishing”. Maybe its time, to bring back that sign to the door, time for you to spend some time, alone, to take a walk or perhaps just as I did with my dad, sit in silence and enjoy. Whatever it might be for you, I would like to encourage you to start practising solitude today. It will not only bring benefit to yourself but your marriage, family and business too, I can guarantee it.
And yes…. we actually shot a moose that morning, but that shot came after the 2,5h of the most important life lesson my dad told me. A lesson he taught in complete silence.
Live better – Lead Better.
Johan Odén – Business and Leadership Coach
If you would like to know more about my coaching approach, how I can help you as a CEO, Director or leader bring more happiness and success into your business and life, contact me for a free 30min session.