I’ve Been Everywhere, Man.

I’ve Been Everywhere, Man.

It has been a while since I last wrote a blog. The reason is, at some point, I had to work. Since the start of the new year, I have taught senior leaders in healthcare, and provincial and federal police; made three presentations to three different Rotary Clubs; produced a Ted Talk; was a keynote speaker for a conference in Jasper, a veterinarians’ association, and a Future Leader’s program; had some work presented at the national ASQ (largest quality organization in the world) conference; and had other work presented at a sport management conference, and a conference in Naples, Italy.

Whew! The song playing in my head the entire time was, “I’ve been everywhere man…I’ve been everywhere.”

I learned two lessons during this time that I want to share.

The first lesson is that life does not stop because you are busy. During this time of extensive travel and amazing opportunities, I still had my day job of being a professor at the University of Alberta, teaching two strategic management classes; I still had obligations of being a father to my two sons, one of which just graduated high school, has successfully navigated being accepted at the University of Alberta starting in September, and is working his first job as a footware associate with SportChek; and the obligations of a son to my mother who “finally” retired at the age of 74 in April.

I so badly wanted the world to stop or slow down so I could catch my breath. Unfortunately, it didn’t. So, I had to think about how to stay present for the important things.

I learned that I do it by staying conscious. I needed to remind myself almost daily why I was doing what I was doing, and what was important in my life. I did that using a simple trick. Te last six months involved lots of travel, which meant a lot of time in airplanes. Taking advantage of it , I developed the habit of using the time from when the plane leaves the ground (wheels up) to when the flight attendant comes on the speakers to announce it is safe to use electronics, etc., to ask myself “Why am I on this plane?”
“How does this trip connect to my bigger purpose in life?”

During that three minutes, I also remind myself that my purpose in life isn’t just about work. It’s also about being a father, a friend, and a son. It’s about being grounded, healthy, and active. I found spending three minutes focused on me really helps me to then focus on those around me.

So, my first question for you is, “When do you spend time thinking about you?” Now, I know that many of us think about ourselves a lot, but not necessarily in constructive ways. We think we aren’t good enough, or we think we could be doing better or doing more. This isn’t what I mean. I mean when do you ask yourself, “Why do I do what I am doing?” “When do I think about how what I am doing connects to who I want to be?”

I know, scary questions, but fortunately for me and my plane routine, I only think about it three minutes at a time. I am amazed how clear and conscious I can become from only three minutes.

I am learning the second lesson now. After six months of being very busy, now what? I am in the middle of figuring that out by asking myself more questions.

The first set of questions is, “Did I do what I said I would do?” Recall that first question, “Why am I on this plane?” The answer usually involved some sense of goal or purpose for the trip. To share knowledge, to engage with a specific set of people, or to meet a specific person. But often it is a bit more personal; I am going to learn something, or to perfect a specific message or thought I have been working on. Now that I am done with the trip, I ask the questions, “Did I actually accomplish those goals?” “If not, then why not?” “What is the lesson for me?”

The second set of questions comes if I did what I said I was going to do. “Did it have the impact I thought it would have?” “Did I achieve the purpose?” “Did the participants actually learn something from me?” “Were the conference atttendees engaged or inspired?” Doing that helps prepare me for my next busy season.

For most of us, the summer is a period of relaxation. During this time, I encourage you to start with my second lesson. Ask yourself if you have done what you wanted to do so far this year. If so, then ask if it has had the impact you wanted it to have.

Until next time!