“Lately it occurs to me: What a long, strange trip it’s been.” –Robert Hunter, “Truckin'”
Going to Burning Man is like spending a week in an alternate universe. It’s an event that is almost indescribable to somebody that hasn’t been there, and it’s even more difficult to define exactly what it’s all about.
Having been to Burning Man before, I experienced this year’s festival through a slightly different lens. In fact, this year’s week in the desert turned into more of a business planning retreat than anything else.
Some readers from the accounting world may be familiar with the concept of an annual retreat. Traditional, this consists of several days each year wherein the partners of a CPA firm disappear into the wilderness together in order to evaluate the hits and misses of the previous year. This is usually conducted shortly after tax season.
Due to the cost of such retreats and the questioning of results obtained from them, this practice has seen dwindling popularity in recent years. I think this trend is a mistake — particularly when the annual retreat is properly applied.
DUring my week in the desert, I had zero access to the Internet. There was no temporary cell tower erected off-site this year, so nobody had cell service. It was 8 glorious days of absolute communication blackout.
When we disconnect ourselves from the constant ringing, beeping, and blinking of our modern digital universe, we can obtain a clarity of thinking that is simply impossible to achieve otherwise.
From this year’s Burning Man event, I don’t have any super-crazy tales to share. I even kept all my clothes on for the entire week (which my camping companions were very grateful for!). In fact, by the standards set by almost any other burner, this was a boring Burn. I didn’t imbibe to excess, and spent a significant amount of time actually in the RV. Defeats the purpose of going, some would say.
I’d say quite the opposite. By taking the opportunity to unplug and disconnect from the default world, I was able to make monumental leaps in my business life. I had the time to work ON my businesses, rather than just IN my businesses.
I was able to take the time to formulate my zero-to-hero marketing strategy for the new tax office in Washington. I was able to determine what I really want out of that tax office, and how it works with my existing boutique tax resolution practice. I was able to outline the future of Tax Marketing HQ, and came to several decisions regarding related projects. I solidified my strategy for returning to real estate investing, and assigned realistic yet aggressive targets for achieving specific financial goals.
Taking the time to step out of the “real world” was a blessing. I’m now much more focused on what I want to achieve. I’m far more comfortable now with the notion of hanging up my nomadic hat and being in one place for a while. And through a strange set of circumstances, I was introduced to a completely unrelated, brand new entrepreneurial endeavor that may or may not come to fruition, but will be an interesting adventure no matter what (I may or may not share more about that in the future…we’ll see).
Perhaps the most important thing, however, is that I was able to eliminate a number of distractions. I tend to have a short attention span, and suffer from what is commonly known as Shiny Object Syndrome. Focusing on just a few things that actually matter is really the secret to success, but many of us get tugged in various directions by all the available options out there.
By eliminating what wasn’t gaining traction, or that no longer really interested me, I can instead focus on things that drive real results. My time at Burning Man this year yielded three basic tenets for my business life that I’ll be referring back to extensively for at least the next two years. These were ideas that I was already aware of, and understood, but it took being away from the business for a week to make them truly clear to me.
What does this translate to in practical terms?
You’re going to see a lot of new things from me here at Tax Marketing HQ. You’re also going to see a few things go away. In my discussions about building the new tax office from scratch in Washington, you’re going to notice a theme. In fact, you’ll notice an overall theme so prominent that you’re going to get tired of hearing about it. You’re going to see me step away from a couple things that may surprise you, and you’ll see me moving forward on some projects that may leave you scratching your head.
All of these actions, however, will be based on reason and logic for the purpose of achieving specific objectives. This alone is the true power of disengaging for a while to focus ON your business. The level of clarity I now possess on a number of important matters is staggering, compared to before my “retreat”. In the future, I will likely refer to these as my “Burning Epiphanies”.
I’ve become so passionate about the power of taking time to work ON your business, that I’ve decided to put together a free webinar to help you explore the process and organize your own retreat. You don’t need to disappear into the dusty, scorching hot desert for a week of debauchery in order to reach your own epiphanies. What matters is the process, and actually doing it.
I’ll be working on the outline for the webinar over the next few days, and scheduling it later this week. This material will be new territory for me in a lot of ways, since it comes from the personal development and “head stuff” side of the success journey. My goal will be to impart only the practical applications — don’t expect any mystical mumbo-jumbo stuff like in The Secret.
I encourage you to do what I have done. Take the time to obtain clarity about WHY you’re in business, and what you’re trying to achieve with your business. Seriously examine how your business fits into your personal and lifestyle objectives. Look for those tasks and projects that you can get rid of, and focus on the things that produce meaningful gains.