A DECADE OF STORYTELLING POWERED BY THE BEST WRITERS ON THE PLANET

CLICK BELOW TO REDISCOVER HUMANITY

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 (see article below), 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.

Radical Sabbatical: Rediscovering the Gift of Presence

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. 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.

Dennis Pitocco
Dennis Pitoccohttps://www.bizcatalyst360.com/
DENNIS is Founder & CEO & Reimaginator of 360° Nation, encompassing a wide range of multimedia enterprises, including BizCatalyst 360° —an award-winning global media digest; 360° Nation Studios —dedicated to reaching across the world in an effort to capture, produce, and deliver positive, uplifting messages via blockbuster global events, including HopeFest 360° and BucketFest 360° and; GoodWorks 360° —a pro-bono consulting foundation focused entirely on providing mission-critical advisory services to nonprofits worldwide. Everything Dennis does is carried out "for-good" vs. "for-profit", reflecting his belief that it’s time for a renaissance of pure, unbridled wonder. Time to renew in both our hearts and in our souls more joy, more kindness, more compassion, more understanding, and that magical sense of truly belonging to something greater than the status quo. And time to bring the spirit of “humanity at its very best” back to the forefront. More about his "backstory" HERE. Dennis is also a contributing author to the Best-Selling Book Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Dennis-
    What a great read and a wonderful reminder to stop and smell the roses along our path, as well as to move forward in life without fear! Trimming our sails, checking and reevaluating the charted course to discern if the destination is still what we desire is a muscle many do not exercise without an unexpected ‘catalyst’. Learning to embrace disruptions as opportunities and to take on the surprises that life brings is a skill that, once honed, can return ten-fold in joy-filled blessings. This in turn, allows us to be in “Flow” as you expressed so well, which, once you have experienced it, is intoxicating, liberating and transformational. I’m so pleased that you have found your bliss, are moving with intention toward nuturing it in your everyday life and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from your journey.

  2. Dennis, thank you so much for taking us on your journey. Be. Think. Do. These words may not be close to the three you would choose to represent each of your three months, but as I read your article, I found these these words resonating with me when thinking of your three-month sabbatical experience. Great article.

  3. Thank you for the inspiration, Dennis. I wrote a post on “Break it to make it better”. I covered many areas of breaking such as breaking promise and trust, brealing resilience and breaking from work. I find the same is true to what you reported about breaking silence.

  4. It is interesting that I’m getting to know you in your new 2020-you more in-flow self. I’m glad you both took the time to re-member the connections to the things you truly value in life. It is easy to get distracted from them. Our natural state is this quiet, spacious, flow state and we move away from it. The wonderful thing is that it is always there. As soon as we choose to pause, we can step right back into it. Welcome back, refreshed, renewed, and like the kintsugi pottery stronger and more beautiful than before!

  5. Dennis, there are many many treasures in this brief glimpse into your 3-month journey of spaciousness. I’m so happy that you made the commitment to do this for yourselves, and (more importantly) for our world. Because our world needs more leaders who have found that place of work/life harmony, and the recognition that life is more about our availability to be in full relationship with the moment, and less about how much we have ‘accomplished’. I call this creating a ‘legacy of love’ … thank you for including so many in yours.

  6. As I have already done in some posts I am happy to find you and, it seems to me, in great shape. But I had foreseen this too because, as I told you when you started the sabbatical, I was sure that you would certainly “reimagine” something new.
    Thank you for sharing this kind of sobering diary. The younger ones should reflect on that concept of time (which never comes back when it has passed), on the need for a more intentional life (overall view, values, goals, habits, planning) and on self-care: We are not selfish if we dare to stand up for our needs and well-being. It is not always a simple thing for those around us to understand. In general, people judge the actions of others without paying attention to the inner needs of each one, his balance and his joys. Being aware of what is good for ourselves is one of the most important things in life. It is essential, as is breathing, dreaming, having projects and motivation.
    Welcome back and thank you for giving us the opportunity to reflect on so many important things.

  7. And so it continues — thank goodness! — albeit in different ways you wrote about and that we’ll all experience here and there, Dennis!

    So much to read and think about. So many similar insights and so many unexpected ones. So much common ground and yet so many different paths.

    OK, so you got me thinking. Duh. You got ALL of us thinking — and I’m sure being really happy to see you here again!

    Welcome back, Dennis and Ali!

  8. Dennis and Ali, even Jesus took a break from His ministry which upon resuming brought more souls to the faith, and He does encourage us all to take time to reflect, as even creation rested after the 6th day. Look what happened since! Can’t wait to see what’s coming ! Thank you both for your creation of Bizcatalyst.

  9. Thank you for sharing your amazing intentional experience during your sabbatical Dennis. I remember times when there was no internet at home and we never owned a television at home either and we spent alot of time with each other as a family ( my sisters & I) because there was nothing more to do really! I love the 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. My golden takeaway from alot of lovely insights in this article is “with liberation, comes that keen awareness of the simple ingredients right in front of us for a joyful life” I am gonna remember and hold to : Awareness and Dissolutions . I believe they make a power combo for grounding us to the present moment.

  10. Thank you for sharing this wonderful insight into your sabbatical Dennis.
    My change for “Twenty Twenty You” did not include a 3 month hiatus but I have developed a new skill in that, If I am presented with something worrying, overwhelming or just downright irritating, I have learned to: Change how I experience the experience. And you know what…… it works 💯

  11. Thank you, Dennis, for sharing some of the major points of your three-month hiatus. I found myself smiling (for you and your wife) as I read details of your wise departure from routine. It’s been my experience that many persons remain locked into a prison of their own making, despite the fact that it is they that possess the key to grant theselves freedom! You dared to turn the key. Welcome back! 🙏

  12. What a powerful story and amazing journey!
    The concept of dumping everything out and resorting or throwing away is such a great compass for redirection.
    Congratulations for saying YES to a radical sabbatical, for doing the mental workout of rediscovery and mosty for sharing your journey so we can learn from you – when it’s our time.
    Welcome home to an even better space of ‘doing good’ for the world, and yourselves.

  13. Such a beautiful post, Dennis. Right from your attention-capturing introduction to the end of the post you give new meaning to breaking.
    Break it to make it better- such a great idea. Break the habit to make it better. In sports break time is a time to rethink and do better. Breaking hearts and so many more come to my mind.

    I am sure the breakaway period, even though extended for three months, was a time to make your efforts along with your team much better. Soon, we shall enjoy the fruits.

  14. Everything about this article is stellar, but these highlights point to the 110% of your Radical Sabbatical. Your life reimagined has become your treasure box of gems to share. Unplugged is another word for inner peace. I hope all you discovered, learned, and promised stays with you.
    HIGHLIGHTS
    A lighter bucket emerged, but one full of more time to discover and enjoy what really matters.

    We rediscovered each other and reaffirmed our purpose, or our “why”.

    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.

▲ "CULTIVATING HUMANKIND TOGETHER" ▲

DAILY INSPIRATION. DELIVERED.