I’m not proud of what I’m about to share, but I’m hoping my experience can help others. I also suspect that there are others who suffer from this same affliction, and I want to share what I have finally learned.
I live in extremes. My sister refers to me as the light switch. I’m either on or off. I’m all in, or I’m totally out. I’m eating clean and detoxing, or I’m eating an entire bag of gummy bears.
When it comes to work, it’s even worse. I’m generally on, rarely off. So when I go on vacation, Amanda, our community manager, actually has to change the password to my email so that I cannot work. And she will not, under any circumstances, give me the new password until my plane touches down upon my return.
But my bigger problem is that I have trouble hearing my own thoughts, finding the time to really think, and allowing myself to ponder the bigger questions about the things in life that really matter.
I finally found a solution this year. One of our accelerator members shared it with me, and while some may find it extreme, it has changed my life and given me back something that I had lost – peace, quiet, and spirituality.
Twice this year, I have driven about an hour outside the city and checked into a completely remote and silent monastery run by Trappist monks. As soon as you enter the monastery surrounded by acres and acres of rolling hills in the Shenandoah Mountains, you also enter a sacred, silent, and spiritual place. No one will talk to you for three days, nor will you talk to anyone.
The lack of spoken words actually intensifies other sounds, especially in the summer months. You’ve never heard so many sounds in your life – and that includes your thoughts and the voice of whomever you pray to.
There are no distractions: no television, no WiFi, no phones, and no stores to visit. The blessing of the monastery is the gift of time. Time to think, to sit, to pray, to be quiet.
All of a sudden, the priorities in your life come into focus, the less important ones fall aside, and clarity returns.
A silent retreat may be yet another example of my light switch syndrome, but for me, it has been the highlight of my year. And it is one I would never have learned about had it not been for collective wisdom. In this case, it was a fellow woman business owner sharing how she manages the demands of her personal life and her growing business.
If you’re feeling drowned out by noise and cannot hear yourself think, try a silent retreat. It could be life-changing.
Frederique is the founder and CEO of Her Corner, a global peer-group community of women business owners committed to growth in their businesses.
Her Corner applies a systematic, process-based approach that includes business-driven agendas, carefully selected facilitators, and metrics-focused growth measures in order to give women the springboard they need to move forward.
Her Corner is Frederique’s fourth business that grew out of a personal need for access to other motivated and ambitious women business owners with whom she could collaborate in order to accelerate growth in their businesses.
When Frederique is not managing the business operations of Her Corner, she can be found either running accelerator programs for Her Corner members or at the Kogod School of Business at American University where she teaches entrepreneurship, business management and organizational behavior.
Frederique holds an MBA from the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary and a BA in International and Russian Studies from Davidson College. She is a dual citizen of the United States and European Union, is fluent in English, French, and Spanish, and conversant in Russian and Italian.