“Vision without execution is hallucination.”
– Thomas Edison
For years Bill Gates has taken something he calls thinking vacations – time away with nothing more than a few books and ample time to reflect. And it’s a practice I’ve followed for many years in order to continuously examine and reflect on my life.
I spend my “thinking vacations” reflecting on the following:
- What am I missing?
- What am I not seeing?
- What will I be blindsided by?
After all, the “unknown unknowns” are the arrows that will kill you (see sidebar below).
** Sidebar on Unknown Unknowns**
If you’re not familiar with “unknown unknowns” it’s another favorite concept of mine.
“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
– Donald Rumsfeld
Regardless of how you feel about Rumsfeld, the value of the mental model stands. Keeping in mind the “unknown unknowns” helps us avoid being blindsided by them.
** End Sidebar **
Back to thinking vacations.
It’s during these periods where you’ll have your biggest breakthroughs. Go for walks – no phone, no podcasts, no audiobooks. Just walk in nature. Just think. Reflect on the things that you might not see, the things that might blindside you and the possibilities no one else is thinking about.
Make space in your life for quiet. Without it, the real breakthroughs won’t happen.
How are you making space in between the daily noise?
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