Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey announced his resignation last week in a Tweet. The sudden news that the CEO was stepping away from the running the platform raised eyebrows, as it revealed a harsh truth about leadership, but dropped very few jaws. Because Dorsey isn't just walking away from the chaos of Twitter's ongoing legal battles or stagnated growth. He's breaking away from the chaos of communication.
Dorsey has had an indelible impact on how we communicate as a culture, and even as a world. He is one of the most influential entrepreneurs of our time, reaching--and mastering--the core of what "social" truly means: communication.
But as Twitter and other social networks grew, communication naturally evolved--and so did Dorsey. In pursuit of not just communication but connection, he discovered the one key to finding all answers: silence.
Known for his commitment to health and wellness, Dorsey is an advocate for fasting, famously eating just seven meals per week. He has developed a wellness strategy that doesn't solely focus on what goes into the body and when, but, more important, what comes into--and out of--the mind.
Dorsey co-founded a platform that helps the world share every thought with the world. Now he pursues the ability to wash thoughts away from his mind through his practice of Vipassana, an ancient Buddhist meditation technique used to calm and focus the mind through a strict code of silence.
In the practice of Vipassana, the focus is on one's breathing and body--not thoughts. And never mind what others think--in stark contrast to what social media has evolved into. It eliminates the hunger humans have to get something from someone else (i.e., a like or a comment), and this transforms our relationships and the connections we have.
It's a curious pursuit for a tech entrepreneur who amassed a fortune by creating a stage for the exchange of fleeting and often trivial thoughts. Of course, Dorsey isn't the only CEO who doesn't exactly practice what he preaches, or promotes. Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want his kids on social, and Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs famously didn't allow the iPad in his home.
Social networks like Twitter have enabled us to connect to the broader world, and yet with a greater breadth of connections, the depth of our connections has begun to erode. In other words, smartphones affect our relationships. And, not surprisingly, research continues to prove that the more you use social media, the worse you feel. Communication and connection are no longer synonymous as they once were. And in a digital world, it's easy to be physically present but mentally absent.
Founders must know their limitations, and that one of the biggest--yet most overlooked--is our own interest in the products or services we're creating. As businesses grow, they evolve, and so do their founders. We don't expect to launch a business and 10 years later it be the same as it was at inception, and the reality is that founders are no different.
In the wake of success, many try to hold onto something that no longer truly aligns with their interests, passions, and pursuits. When we no longer enjoy what we do because what we do isn't aligned with who we've become, we stop having fun. With that, growth slows (if not stops), and innovation suffers. It's in fact the secret behind Elon Musk's ability to work superhuman hours, and it's also the trick behind some of the most successful startups.
Dorsey might be finished with his role as CEO of Twitter, but he's just beginning his pursuit of communication--and, more important, connection.