You certainly know a digital addict as well. A person that is deeply unhappy without a mobile device. Someone who seems not to be able to survive without 24/7 internet access. People who sleep with a smartphone by their side as it is the last they touch before going to sleep and the first they pick up in the morning. Funny enough this is not only a teenager’s disease. A lot of business people show the same behaviour. They might use the phone for other purposes than the average addicted child, but other than that the indication is pretty much the same.
„Always being busy with something means
being distracted from yourself.”
People are starting to realize that this might not be healthy. But, what can be done about it? A lot of digital detoxing courses are being offered at abandoned places all over the world in order to find back to your inner self – tranquillity, relaxation, self-centring etc. People pay a lot of money in order to experience the big nothing. And the main goal is to be able to bear yourself again.
Apart from detoxing within a group being monitored by specialists, there is another way of going cold turkey: Joining a big adventure that does not allow you to focus on anything else than yourself and the forces of nature.
I am referring to a true story: Koen Lockefeer, founder and general manager of EclectiC International went on a sailing trip across the Atlantic ocean. Being a sailor by heart Koen had been dreaming of this adventure many years. Now at an age of mid-fifty he had the once in a lifetime opportunity to join a team of five professional and 10 experienced amateur sailors in order to sail one of the race boats that participated in the recent Volvo Ocean Race from Gran Canaria to St. Lucia! What an adventure!
Despite being totally thrilled, incredibly excited and very proud about being a member of the team, some other thoughts came up pretty quickly: How are we going to live with a team of 15 adults on a boat with absolutely no comfort that is normally sailed by 8 people? How are we going to survive more than a week on freeze-dried food and not a sip of alcohol? And last but no least: What are we going to do without any connection to the outside world, meaning no telephone or Wi-Fi network whatsoever? The pure thinking about this has been an adventure as big as doing it in the end, I suppose.
To make a long story short – the team survived! They had great weather conditions, meaning a lot of wind from the back and arrived safely, tired and ready for a hot shower with lots of soap after 8 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes and 30 seconds. And they broke a record with this performance! Congratulations! (If you are interested in more details about Koen’s adventure, please find his blog online or watch the video.)
But what has the real achievement been? Having listened to Koen’s adventure stories a few times after being back, these are a few things that stood out for me:
- an adventure is never comfortable, but it doesn’t have to be either (!)
- a diet of freeze-dried meals and non-alcoholic beverages makes you lose quite some weight in only eight days (not sure I wanna give it a try anyway)
- some people turn out to be ‘different’ than they are perceived in ordinary life – especially when they are confronted with an adventure like this, even if they chose for it themselves (maybe a new form of assessment centre?)
- senior business people can be true teamplayers and yield the leadership role when they are focused on a goal they all believe in (define the right goal / challenge and you have the buy-in of the team no matter who the members are)
- not being connected to the rest of the world makes you actually talk to each other – even with no second of rest and calm weather people found the possibility to have good conversations on board (about everything and anything – also business!)
The result? Let me be honest about this as well – the positive effects of the detox didn’t last very long…. We could pretty much determine the moment that Koen was near emerged land again. The flood of mails and messages betrayed him. But certainly we were very happy to have him back safe – and online! However, the most funny thing was that he was calling from the airport most terrified with the message that his phone has no internet connection anymore! So first thing he did after entering Dutch grounds was stepping into a phone shop in order to buy the newest iPhone… Mission accomplished?!?
And the moral of the story? Digital Detoxing is easy if you are distracted by something much bigger or more important! Try to find out what really counts for you apart from work and engage with that as often as possible. You will not be suffering from addiction to your phone anymore and an expensive week of detoxing is not needed either.
“Digital addiction is the modern form of
being terribly bored.”
So think of what really matters for you and take some downtime every now and then in order to focus on the real important things in life!