I'm not sure if it was Peter Cetera or Kierkegaard who said, "Everybody needs a little time away." Regardless of who said it, that statement is certainly true, especially for business leaders. In this 24/7, constantly-connected world we live and do business in, there will come a time that you have to find that spot that you can go to and be truly alone.
Even Superman had a place to go when the rigors of defending Metropolis got to him and made him feel less than super. For CEOs, there are a number of tasks that you will not be your most effective in solving if you attempt them working in a standard office environment. Maybe it's annual reviews, terminating an employee, deciding whether or not to launch a new product, or even something as simple (yet, mind-numbingly complicated) as a customer issue. At some point, we all need our own Fortress of Solitude. You need to find a spot that will allow you to truly embrace the beauty that is complete solitude, a place that allows you to really focus on an issue, re-energize yourself, and go back to being super.
Here are 7 Steps to finding that perfect spot:
1. Embrace the beauty of being alone.
Even if you are the most gregarious person in your office, sometimes you want to enjoy your own company. In your fortress, one of the most important things is to be comfortable with yourself and only you. No Lois Lane, no Jimmy Olsen, and definitely no Lex Luthor.
2. Turn it off.
Being alone means not being bothered. Remember, you might not be able to be unconnected for a week, maybe not even a weekend. But, everyone can take a half an hour and just unplug. You won't see any benefit to this time if you're answering emails or speaking on the phone. Escape the surly binds of technology--the world will keep spinning, I assure you. Keep in mind though, even Superman had the holograms of Kal-El. If you've got a person in your life who helps you find your focus--and keeps you fighting for truth and justice--go ahead and spend a few minutes with them.
3. Free Your Mind.
Make sure your space is filled with furniture that allows you to relax and clear your head. Use scented candles, but nothing too perfumy. Sandalwood, sage, and citrus smells work well. Plus, candles are soothing to look at and will help you get into that relaxed mindset. Have your favorite snacks in the space, some cool water, things that help you relax. Don't eat a full meal or drink alcohol, because that kind of defeats the point of clearing your head.
4. Enjoy the Silence....
Mediate. Use this time to clear your head. Don't allow yourself to obsess over your P&L or that earnings report. This is your time. If you have one of those active brains--and if you're the CEO, you probably do--that's fine. Don't fight the machine, but do try to distract it. Think about a beach, think about hiking or mountain climbing. It's okay to think, just not only about work.
5. ...Or Bring the Noise.
If meditation isn't your thing, crank up the jams. Listen to that band you haven't had time to listen to at full volume and sing along. Play air guitar or air drums and embrace your inner Eddie Van Halen.
6. Let's get Physical.
For some people, the best kind of solitude is spent pushing their body to the limit. That's great, do that: run, hike, bike, swim, whatever you do to get your body feeling worked and your head feeling free.
7. Color outside the lines.
Do something creative, or something that gets the creative mind working, but remember it can't be actual work. Paint. Write. Sing. Slap the bass. Watch a TED Talk. Play a video game. Our brains are wired so that no matter how much you favor one side of them you can't truly be your best if you don't engage the other side. So go ahead, engage. You'll know when the other half of your brain is ready.
The most important thing to remember is this fortress is about you and you alone, and that's okay. Also, keep in mind, you don't need to fly to the Arctic Circle and build yourself an ice palace. Your fortress can be anywhere, as long you understand the real fortress is in your mind. Your physical surroundings are important, but in the end it's all about a state of mind. Get right with your head and you'll be super again in no time.