FYI: IN WINTER 2012, I experienced what every traveler dreads: a lost bag. Stranded without so much as a toothbrush, I had to replace everything—and fast. At first, this seemed like a pain. But in the end, I came to see it as a blessing. Why? Replacing everything—from head to toe, including the toothbrush—became an unexpected opportunity for a fresh start.
To be sure, all I’m talking about here are clothes and toiletries. Still, the experience made me realize that, in the absence of a disruptive event like this, it’s all too easy to get stuck in our ways. Careers, habits, ways of thinking—they all run the risk of atrophying.
During the many years that he ran Microsoft, Bill Gates was famous for taking “think weeks.” Twice a year, he would spend seven days by himself at a cabin in the forest. To ensure maximum productivity, no one was allowed to visit—not friends, not family. To this day, the location has been kept secret.