Here we are at the end of summer, and I've had a fine time. My summer has been a great balance of work and play. When I planned my three-week vacation, my work calendar looked rather empty and I was a little worried. Now I see that I protected a lot of time to have fun (summer is so-oo short in Canada), and in doing so, save myself the time and space to recharge, to think, and to create.
The result: my work dance card has filled up quickly. I have a brand-new sales training program called Selling With Integrity (and two new clients), three new coaching workshops on team effectiveness (and three new clients), and some great stories that will last a lifetime.
Here are some lessons from my summer vacations that I hope I remember and continue to live, because they led to an incredibly productive and happy period.
Mind the Company You Keep
My first vacation was two weeks at a family summer camp. This place is not for everyone, since the cottages are very rustic and only have cold running water. Permanent, or because of, the lack of amenities, it also soars with a spirit of good will, camaraderie, interesting and physically challenging activities, beautiful surroundings, and wonderful people who appreciate the place. In a heartbeat, I found companions with what to walk 10K; Go crashing through forests on our bikes; Watch each other's kids; Share meals; Go kayaking; Learn improvisational techniques and laugh.
As soon as we got home, I went on a camping adventure with some women in my book club. We had one misadventure after another (unexpected seven-hour, 12 km portages, lost tent poles, a relentless thunderstorm) and we laughed ourselves silly. If any of us had been sour, negative or lazy the trip would have been a disaster. Instead, we have all committed to next year's adventure.
In business and in life, the people you hang out with will make or break your spirit. May as well hang out with those who feed your soul. If your soul is fed, it's easy to feed your bank account.
Break A Few Rules
Breaking a few rules that do not hurt anyone is a wonderful adrenaline rush. It can also greatly reduce red tape. Some examples:
On the ill-fated canoe trip, we just could not face the long portage with one heavy canoe loaded with all our clothes, tent, and food, so we also "borrowed" one of the park's 18 canoes stacked near the parking lot. We left a note on our windshield, and fellow paddler Cindy, a criminal lawyer and judge, promised to get all of us out of jail.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I joined new friends for a civilized wine-tasting bike trip to various vineyards and wineries, and then mountain-biked through a crazy route in extreme heat. For the mountain-biking part, we parked our car in a fancy country-club parking lot. At the end of the ride, we were incredibly hot, and there was no close place to go for a swim. Gary scoped out the country club, wave us four sorry-looking, middle-aged bikers a quick lesson on how to dash and dash, and covered for us with some story of how we were meeting a local doctor.
In business, sometimes reducing red tape can speed up a process. Look for the opportunities, and live a little …
Scare Yourself on a Regular Basis
While I am not advocating putting yourself in harm's way, I urge you to try spicing up your life by doing things that you are tempted to duck. You will stretch your limits and learn that you can handle more than you think. More stories:
I am a very cautious bike rider. At the family camp, we took a mind-blowing bike ride where some parts were straight down, and in others you could not see where you were going. Sign me up again.
Stuff does not get lighter the longer you carry it. Au contraire. When we Princesses of the Book Club looked at that portage, and back at all the junk in our cars, we did not think carrying all our stuff was possible. We did it.
When Cindy took a wrong turn on the lake and got lost, Merrilee and I paddled like crazy. We found her.
The lack of tent poles was a good challenge. Anny and I strung the tent up with miles of rope and I usually stated that the tent should hold up, except maybe in a thunderstorm. At
The lack of tent poles was a good challenge.Anny and I strung the tent up with miles of rope and I usually stated that the tent should hold up, except maybe in a thunderstorm.At 5 am, as the storm had already raged for six Hours, rain made a lake at the bottom of the tent, and trees cracked all around us, we heard Cindy quietly saying the shma (an ancient prayer that you're saying) And Anny crying that we'd Ne / ver get off the island. We survived. We got off the island.
What I learned was that I / we can take care of ourselves. While I do not get scared physically at work, I often get scared emotionally. "What if this speech bombs?" "What if the group I'm training hates me?" "If I speak up at this meeting, I'll look like an idiot."
Frankly, compared to my canoe trip, business is a piece of cake.
Talk Back: I'd love to hear your stories on how you recharge, and the business results you experience.