Brain Breaks: Hawaii Edition
If you haven’t heard of Josh Waitzkin, you may want to look him up. He was a child chess prodigy, a champion martial arts competitor, and a best-selling author. He’s one of those guys you either love and respect or hate with an intense passion. Why? He’s the kid in class who sets the curve without seeming to put forward any effort while everyone else pulled all-nighters and spent the entire morning mentally repeating definitions from their flash cards. You see Josh has an uncanny ability to be awesome at anything he chooses to do. That’s why I initially picked up his book, The Art of Learning, four years ago. To this day, his book remains one of the most influential pieces of my ongoing entrepreneurial journey.
Josh worked his tail off for every one of his monumental accomplishments. What looked like effortless skill to the unknowing eye was really the result of unrelenting work ethic and mindful practice. To become a chess prodigy, he put in thousands of hours of practice. He defeated his first master chess player, Edward Frumkin, when he was only 10 years old, strategically sacrificing his queen and rook in order to earn his checkmate. When earning his many championships in international push hands competitions, he discovered that the same learning techniques he employed in chess enabled him to advance rapidly in this martial art as well.
Yes, Josh put in the time. Yeah, he definitely had the passion, too. But one of the most important points and secrets to his success surprised even me, the perpetual workaholic. When it came to busting through mental plateaus and having one of those ‘Eureka’ moments that make every second of sweat-dripping, mentally paralyzing, and physically exhaustive work worth it, Josh stepped away from work to relax, let go, have fun, and enjoy life.
Very recently, I decided to let go of the noose-tight lock I had wrapped around myself and enjoy life a little bit. I took a page out of Josh’s book. Surprisingly, or rather completely unsurprisingly, my much needed vacation proved to be exactly what I needed to break through my own professional and mental plateaus. I’ll share some of the insights gained from my trip… right after a few highlights that I believe to be blog-worthy.
Vacation. The word almost sounded foreign to me when it finally came time to board my flight to Hawaii. I knew the trip would be everything I needed it to be when I sat in my seat and had plenty of leg room, something very important to a 6’5’’ 220lb. guy. Yup, it was my first ever first-class airline seat. One of the few advantages of having plenty of business expenses is the airline miles that accompany them.
Of course I let loose a little bit, drank well beyond the legal driving limits, and ate food I typically avoid like the plague, but I really didn’t care. I deserved it. And Ahi Poke had been on my mind since the last time I visited Hawaii three years prior.
In Hawaii, nothing really matters and life pretty much slows down to a halt. So much so, that you actually get to enjoy the simple things in life many take for granted when the rush of big city living is distracting you all the time. Take for example, the simple beauty of a sunset. This sunset froze my mind for what seemed like an infinite moment of reflection.
I just stared, forgot all my worries, and just appreciated the beautiful picture nature had painted across the canvas of the sky. There really was nothing else to do.
Then there was the backside of Black rock, a 60 foot cliff jump that attracted no volunteer jumpers. Except of course for us. The first time I attempted this jump 3 years ago, I dislocated and bruised my coccyx. I couldn’t sit right for 3 months. I actually had to lean on one butt cheek or the other for the rest of the trip. Three years later… conquered with no damage to my ass. Victory is mine. I definitely almost backed out.
By taking a step back and relaxing a little, I invited time for reflection, growth, and gratitude. I had time to bond with my business partners and friends. I learned about Tanner Martty’s morning routine. I quickly modeled my own and have been doing it every day since my return. I will surely be blogging about it in the near future because of the immediate impact it has had on my focus, energy, and productivity.
Vacations are like wiping your work slate clean, pressing the reset button, and coming back with fresh perspective. I know that my productivity has exponentially improved because I took time for myself to step away and just be. All in all, time well spent. I think I won’t wait 3 years for my next vacation.
Now time to get back to work.