Engineering a Successful Think Week
ODI’s mechatronics engineer shares 5 Tips for a rejuvenating reflection
In the lush temperate rainforests of Vancouver Island, situated between the trees and the sea, one can find a solitary "tiny home" - and in it you might find a certain contemplative engineer. Ask him what he's doing in the middle of nowhere, and he'll probably tell you, "I'm on a Think Week!"
Ocean Diagnostics Inc.’s (ODI) mechatronics engineer, Michael Giles, took a play from Bill Gate’s model for a solo and undisturbed retreat to boost focus, creativity and strategic thinking. A key developer of ODI’s Saturna Imaging System, Michael recently ventured into Vancouver Island’s wilderness to refresh and reenergize while isolated from the internet and other people. Typically, Michael spends his day-to-day building and optimizing ODI’s technologies, but he decided to spend this week in Jordan River, BC, to reflect in nature, re-evaluate his personal values, and then return to his engineering role with a fresh perspective.
Michael spent 7 days alone in his cozy tiny home (with the exception of an encounter with a curious bear cub)! Not only was he isolated, but he also spent his Think Week without cell service or wi-fi. Completely on his own, he was free to explore the beautiful British Colombian wilderness and turn his focus inwards.
Michael designed his Think Week around five guidelines. There was no set routine, but the goal was to apply all five rules each day. The first and foremost rule was self-care. This allowed Michael to live in the moment and focus on process rather than the results. The second guideline was to work on self-development. Michael contemplated his core values and refined his goals by asking himself, “what really matters to me?”
"Put yourself in the kind of environment that gives you the best opportunity to think." – Michael Giles.
The third and fourth rules were to read and write every day. Michael read and subsumed new information that he otherwise didn’t have the time to during his regular life. He recorded his thoughts each day, both by journaling and by recording his thoughts on camera to better process them.
The last rule Michael employed was simple; explore! He spent time walking in the area surrounding his cabin, on the beach and through the forest. "Put yourself in the kind of environment that gives you the best opportunity to think," Michael advises. And what better place to think than a peaceful forest cabin by the shore?
Michael set the foundation for a transformative practice. He proved the value in escaping the ordinary and ruminating on one's own values. In doing so, Michael revealed a powerful insight - decisions are easier to make if you truly understand your core values. Realizing that this is an ongoing process, he learned to reflect daily on his core values to fuel this growth mindset.
Going forward, he plans to do Think Week at least twice a year, bringing a fresh perspective back to his work at Ocean Diagnostics and stimulating critical thinking through self-reflection. We could all take a page out of Michael's book and use his 5 guidelines to create a Think Week of our own!
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Ocean Diagnostics Inc. is an environmental impact company that tackles planetary threats of microplastic pollution and biodiversity loss through innovative technology, cutting-edge laboratory capabilities, collaborative partnerships and community science. Founded by scientists and engineers, we break the barriers of collecting and analyzing scientific data to influence informed decision making.