social media

What I Learned Off-Grid

On the Summit of Spread Eagle Peak!

I went on summer vacation with my family and, for the first time, stayed off-grid, unplugged from work and social media. Crazy, right?

Here’s what I was reminded of and learned from my online hiatus in the mountains…

Lesson 1: I loved it!

I was present and in the moment with family & the Lord like never before. It was awesome. Plain and simple.

Sure, I snapped a few photos here and there to remember and celebrate at a later date. However, it was so good to be authentically in the moment and not feel like it had to be shared with anyone else, at least not right then and there.

Many times there were no pictures taken at all. The memories are that much more vivid in the hearts and minds of those who experienced it in real time.

Lesson 2: It’s okay.

I stayed off-line and, I’ll admit it, it took some getting used to.

After all, “If it happened and no one posted online about it, did it really happen?”

Some won’t get this. Some may even be a little suspicious of what the deal is with someone who dares to not make just about everything about their vacation public knowledge. My advice? Do it anyway. Those that truly know and love you will get it and be fine with it.

It’s also okay to keep sharing.

This goes without saying. Posting on social media has long been a part of the joy of sharing life with extended family and friends who aren’t there. It’s just how an emerging generation communicates. They simply don’t know life any other way.

Good leaders recognize this reality and choose to meet people where they live, virtually or not. This reality is increasing exponentially over time. For more about this and a little different take on things, check out https://careynieuwhof.com/what-i-learned-from-my-social-media-fast/.

Lesson 3: I am needed, but not necessary.

The world, the church, family and friends all went on without me. This is a healthy, humbling perspective for all of us to have. Call it a reality-check.

Besides, if we have surrounded ourselves with great leaders, everything can and should keep moving forward well in our temporary absence.

I really did miss connecting online & sharing with other family and friends! I also wondered what was going on at church, especially among the lead team. Still, both of these had a way of drawing me to prayer for these same people all the more.

As it turns out, they were all still there, still doing life and work, some were on their own vacations. They were still posting and sharing the latest happenings. All I had to do was jump back into the virtual stream to catch up.

Lesson 4: I’m better for it.

I’m rested. I’m recharged. I’m reset and ready for what the Lord has next. I truly felt like I got away from it all. Isn’t that what the principle of the Sabbath is all about? Isn’t that what “getting away from it all” is for? I’m glad I finally got the memo and chose to experience a little bit of life off-line.

I highly recommending unplugged vacations and even going off-grid for some strategic days, events and moments.

Plan on it and plan for it. Let those that need to know, know, and then trust the Lord and them with everything else.

It may be hard to imagine life without play-by-play commentary as you live it. However, maybe you will discover that it’s worth it every once in a while.

I dare you.

Live life a little more off-grid and a little more in the moment.

What are your thoughts on living and leading off-grid? Share your insights in the comment section below!

Sunset over the Sangre de Cristo Range

Living & Leading “off the grid”

IMG_7325Social media is here to stay. Call it the “new normal,” it’s really not been “new” for quite some time. What matters today is how we as leaders incorporate it into our lives and leadership. Notice… we incorporate it into our lives, not the other way around. With the ease of access and the lure of having the world at our fingertips, how do we manage our use of social media? Here are 3 suggestions…

1) Plan for it. Like anything else of priority, plan on some strategic time slots for writing posts, reading up (blogs, articles, news, etc) and even for your more social side of social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc).  Be sure to include a specific time limit (10-11pm or 6-7am, etc). Otherwise, you may end up caught in the “surf” of the cyber world and realize you have wasted 2+ hours that could and should have been spent living and leading with real people in the real world.

2) Go for it. If you are going to be in the social media stream, then do it right. Write that blog article, share that inspirational post, send that picture that captures just the right family moment. Congratulate, well-wish, emoji to your heart’s content. Please, stay above the fray of all the personal “TMI” and worse, the vicious name-calling, side-taking, and the drama of it all… personal, political or otherwise. Invest your social media time in constructive, thoughtful and productive ways, especially when using your platform to address relevant issues of the day. Michael Hyatt has a wealth of instruction on how to create and manage your social media platform.

I think the Apostle Paul’s instruction to the Christ followers in Ephesus applies well here… “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV) 

3) Turn it off. You don’t have to socially document every waking moment. One professional platform guru I follow ( Jon Acuff) just unplugged for a week and probably only ended up increasing his following for it. People were just waiting for him to get back in the stream and even share a little about what he and his family did while on vacation. Other social media giants never seem to do this when, in reality, they have people they pay to keep up their presence 24/7. You probably don’t have “people” for this and you shouldn’t hold yourself as a leader to their standard. That’s a trap and only creates unrealistic expectations. Find your social media pace and stick to it… posting 1-2 times a week, checking social media 1-2 times a day, etc.

Whatever you do, unplug from the social media world and just take a walk with your spouse, play with your kids, or spend some time in God’s Word and prayer. Resist the temptation to narrate your life and the organization you lead and just live and lead in the reality of the moment. Trust that you have planned for your social media “fix” and just relax and enjoy life in the here-and-now.

You can live and lead in increasingly productive ways and have a strong and consistent social media presence. Manage it well and never let it take over your life and leadership. Live, lead, love, and laugh in the real world with real people. Speaking of the real world…