Retreat to Advance
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Each year I go on a silent weekend retreat. It’s my annual way to step back, reflect, and rest. I am convinced we need to retreat to advance. We need to stop to start. We need to slow down to speed up. It is the great paradox of our age.

When things are going so fast and continue to get faster, our natural tendency is to speed up. We must keep up – or catch up. As people, constantly going at a fast pace can take its toll. I have seen so many people burn out in this go-go economy. What is the solution? Learn to slow down, stop, and give yourself the break you need.

So, what does stopping look like? How does one slow down effectively without losing the speed they need to have to compete today? What forms of reflection are needed? These are questions we must all ask ourselves – so we can find our solutions.

When I tell others that I am going on a silent retreat I get all kinds of reactions. Some say, “You mean you are silent for a whole weekend?” Others say, “I could sure use a weekend of silence – I would sleep.” Still others wonder what is accomplished with silence. This is the best question for us all. What will happen to us when we are silent?

Silence is the best way to gain perspective. When we are going all the time our brains never get to reflect, rejuvenate, and make necessary connections. Creativity is all about new connections between unrelated and somewhat related concepts. Silence is needed to gain the space to make these creative connections. Stopping so we can go, slowing down so we can speed up, and retreating so we can advance are all about finding even a small amount of silence in our lives.

In his new book, Stillness, Ryan Holiday helps us understand the criticality of becoming still so we can excel. He goes into the science and success of how stillness gives us the way forward. Great thinkers and doers used – and use – stillness. Have you found your stillness methods yet? If not, 2020 is the year to do so.

I write this blog post as I am completing my silent retreat weekend. So much has happened to me this past year and I needed a whole weekend to be silent so I could process it and prepare for 2020. I believe I can see more clearly now. Retreating to advance is a good way to find the perspective we all need to be most effective and alive in this new year.