In September of 1994, a few months after my college graduation, I hopped on a plane and flew to the east coast for the very first time. I got a job with an outdoor education program called Nature’s Classroom. Without going into too many details, I was in a small town called Colebrook, Connecticut stationed at a YMCA camp on the side of the Berkshire Mountains.
I worked, ate, slept, and lived in the Berkshire mountains. Being from urban areas in southern California, I had never seen anything like it, and even now, it’s a bit difficult to describe. For the first time in my life, I actually witnessed the seasons change. It was just gorgeous nature as far as the eye could see. No distractions of any kind. No billboards, no street signs, no street lights, no street noise. No streets. It was a drive of a few minutes away from the campsite to our nearest neighbors, and a 30-minute drive to the nearest store of any kind.
There were no electronic distractions. The folks in charge had walkie-talkies, but there were no radios throughout the campsite, and even if there were, we wouldn’t have been able to get any kind of reception. In the staff living room, there was a 13-inch TV with broken antennae, but even if it worked, it would have been impossible to receive any channels. There was a telephone in the kitchen that we could use if necessary, but no one really used it very much.
With no means of receiving information on a regular basis, my daily life became all about doing, acting, moving, and living. I limited my inputs and greatly increased my output. During this time, I tapped into a part of me that I never knew existed. I taught math and science, I fell in love with storytelling, I became more creative, and I became more confident talking with all types of people.
I was simply at peace.
However, the most important thing that happened to me was something I didn’t really wrap my head around until just recently over two decades later.
I came across a blog post on input deprivation by a man named Kyle Eschenroeder who runs a website called StartupBros.com. In this post, the author writes about his addiction (if that’s the correct word) to information consumption. We are all affected by the onslaught of information from television, radio, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, books of fiction and nonfiction, and countless streams of mind-numbing entertainment. Eschenroeder admitted that “my head is so full of their ideas that my own are drowning. My own idea muscle is atrophying.” What Eschenroeder suggests is going on a weeklong information fast.
He challenged himself and his readers to an input deprivation week.
Below is a list of some of the benefits of input deprivation. (The quotes are taken directly from Eschenroeder’s writing.)
- You generate more original ideas. “When you’re not busy looking at other people’s ideas it’s easier to hear your own.”
- You come to terms with what you really need to do. “Reading a 10th book on health won’t make you more healthy. We all know the basics—just stop eating shitty food and go work out.”
- You become more social.
- You become better at filtering the news that you do hear from your friends.
When you return from your input deprivation week, you’ll begin to look at information from a different perspective.
I will begin my input deprivation week this coming Sunday. If you decide to do this with me, let me warn you…it will probably be the most difficult Joker to King lesson you’ll try because we have grown into a nation of consumers. Consumption is much easier than production.
Here are Eschenroeder’s rules for the week:
- No reading books.
- No reading blogs.
- No reading newspapers.
- No going on Facebook or Instagram (not even to post anything.)
- No watching TV (no shows, no sports, no news, no TV period.)
- No watching movies.
- No listening to talk radio or podcasts.
- No Reddit, Twitter, or any kinds of forums or social media.
- No information input of any kind…only output!
The idea is not to hate learning. Learning is an important thing for our lives. The point is to develop a better sense of discernment about what we choose to put into our minds.
Are you with me? If so, leave comments and tell me all about it…a week from now.