'Each of us has much more hidden inside us than we have had a chance to explore. Unless we create an environment that enables us to discover the limits of our potential, we will never know what we have inside of us'.
Muhammad Yunus is one of my heroes. His book, Banker To The Poor, was the key inspiration behind my own work in micro philanthropy. His work in micro finance and his ability to empower communities into sustainable patterns of change won him the Nobel peace prize in 2006.
I like to apply this quote to taking time out.
What I experienced during my year out, and the subsequent year out that I am currently enjoying, was a totally new environment.
And insides of that environment, I was able to make many things possible that weren't previously.
Basically, the waking hours of our adult lives are spent at work. Usually working for someone else.
In fact, our entire western school curriculum is geared toward preparing us for employment. But Muhammad Yunus believes, as do I, that our natural state is entrepreneurialism. Context equals content - and it so with our lives. Live your life inside of 'getting to the top of your firm' ensures a life full of mediocre content. Live your life inside of 'anything is possible, let's make a billion and / or save the planet' ensures an exciting white knuckle ride at the very least.
But you'll never discover your contexts and how they might change while you are couped up in an office all hours of the day.
Taking a year out gives you time to re-connect with that inner entrepreneur. Not necessarily to make money - but to create the life that you really want to lead. The kind of entrepreneurialism it awakened in me was social - I want my work to be measured in terms of social change, not money.
By taking time out, you get to view your life from the outside in - to assess where you are at from 'outside the box'.
And what I found is that the contexts in which I was living my life were completely disempowering. My big games in life were 'make a 6 figure bonus', 'buy a Porsche before I am 30' and 'pay the mortgage off by the time I am 35'.
Confused little guy I was.
Taking my first year out gave me time to grow every day. By developing myself, and appreciating the miracles all around me every day, I started to let go of my attachments. I desired less. I loved life more.
My contexts changed to 'heroic global change', 'make poverty history' and 'increase the peace'.
And thus the content of my life changed - everything I do now, every aspect of my life, is geared towards fulfilling my dreams and following my heart.
Cycle 4 continues at pace.
Taking time out, as Yunus says, gives us time to truly explore what we are capable of - and it can be quite scary what we find.
Infinite constellations of potential, mostly...
And then much, much more.