Rebooting Ourselves to Achieve Full-Functioning

The other day I got another lesson in the value of rebooting electronics. Originally I thought rebooting was just for computers but as I continue to learn about technology, all electronic gadgetry seems to benefit from an occasional reboot. Most recently, when my new Internet phone stopped working suddenly I was ready to call tech support. Then I wondered what would happen if I merely unplugged the power cord, waited a few seconds and then plug it back in. Voila! Suddenly I had a dial tone. It was working again!

As I started realizing routers, phones, printers and more can all perform more effectively after an occasional reboot, the idea of rebooting ourselves came to me. It really isn’t a new idea. We simply call it something different – like sabbatical or personal retreat.

I was reminded of one of my favorite books – The Paradox of Success by John R. O’Neil – which is over twenty years old. The book’s subtitle is “A Book of Renewal for Leaders.” O’Neil writes, “The deep learning that takes place during retreat is the heart of the renewal process. In retreat you can use solitude and introspection to mine the shadow for greater self-knowledge and vital clues to direct your future learning ventures, discover new sources of energy and creativity, find ways to rebalance your life, reset your clock, and redefine what success means to you.”


The context for O’Neil’s book is that the darker side of successful people can remain in the shadows unless there are periodic retreats for deep introspection. This is the paradox he writes about. Hugely successful on the one hand with dark shadows lurking underneath. Both people and machines become healthier and more functional after an occasional resetting of the clock, being turned “off” for a while and discovering new sources of energy.

According to, “Rebooting is sometimes necessary to recover from an error, re-initialize drivers, or hardware devices. A reboot may also occur automatically if the computer or hardware device encounters an error or is overloaded.”

With retreat, human beings can “re-initialize” themselves, recover from any “errors” (such as when their hubris gets out of hand) or relieve any “overloading.” Integrating regular retreats into your life may seem like an indulgence but they will allow you to better know yourself and be better at what you do, even more successful and powerful. So “unplug” yourself from time to time. If your egoic mind tells you that you do not have the time, ask it to shut up and relax.


  • Peter Turla

    I’m reminded of the quote from the Roman poet Ovid who said, “Take a rest. A field that has rested yields a beautiful crop.”- Roman poet Ovid

    • John Renesch

      Thanks for the quote, Peter. Very fitting.

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