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The Business Fast
- Christa Heibel
- 13 October 2015
I’m doing a juice fast. I fast once a year and find it surprisingly beneficial. Sure, I go through the standard detox symptoms the first day (chills, fatigue, headache), but they subside on day two. The important thing I realize from fasting is how much of my mind is freed up to focus on other things besides what to eat.
The geniuses of our planet figured this out long before I did.
The first 4-day fast I did a few years ago made me realize how much of my thought process is focused on what to eat. At 10:00am I was thinking about what to make for dinner. After dinner I was thinking about what to make for lunch and the toasty egg sandwich I could get on my way to work. On Tuesday I was thinking about what I would make on Saturday and what I needed to buy at the grocery store, when I needed to get to the grocery store and how to fit it into my schedule. My mind cluttered up with a grocery list and timing, preparation and, of course, the feast itself.
I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you food means a lot to me. I have my list of comfort foods and I tend to turn to them when my emotions get extreme.
These thoughts consumed a lot of space in my mind. When I fast, I don’t have to think about any of this. I just pull the juice out of the refrigerator and go about my day, because I know I’m not going to eat anything. There’s nothing to think about. This got me to thinking about fasting as a means of tapping into my potential. When I want to be especially creative or I have a problem to solve, I do a 4-day fast.
Fasting has been done for thousands of years, typically associated with a religious practice. But some of greatest thinkers of our time have fasted to free up valuable mind-space. As any geniuses will tell you, removing the trivial is paramount to keeping the brain cells engaged in a higher purpose. Einstein walked around barefoot and unkempt, keeping his mind focused on solving problems that changed the way we look at the universe. Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day because he didn’t want to think about what to wear. President Obama says he doesn’t want to think about what to wear or what to eat, he has too many other things that need his attention.
So, I have to wonder: If this works so well on an individual to enhance thinking and productivity, how would this work for a business?
Can a business fast and get the same benefit?
If you think about it, a business fasting makes sense. Imagine taking an allotment of time for your business and removing the distractions – employee issues, customer issues, financial issues – and focusing solely on what you want from your business. Long before you opened the doors to your business, you have a vision of what you wanted to create. What if you could get that vision back and the solutions to move the company forward?
Business retreats act much like a fast. The leadership team sequesters themselves from the business, typically going into a remote area that offers no distractions. Once there, they are kept to a room for hours as they solve problems or create a new vision for the company.
These retreats have proven to be incredibly beneficially to a company because it is, in essence, a fast. I would argue that the perfect (fast) retreat is a blend between focused energy and open forum. The purpose of a fast is to connect to the intelligence that is part of all of us, to capitalize on the sheer brilliance that is our core birthright. And to do that, we have to eliminate the distractions in our lives.
Imagine what can be accomplished…and then do it.
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