As executives and business leaders there is a lot on our plate. In business there are many needs and urgent matters to attend to. As business leaders this is a fast based Olympic like game we play. Then we add family, children, grandchildren, personal hobbies, social time, and some vacation to this mix. We are clearly “Big People” and have “Big Lives.” When is it time for something else? When is it time for that dream or that possibility, which has been a thought and a yearning, but has never happened? This is the question I am putting before you.
As you may or may not know, 2023 is the year of my partial sabbatical. As a celebration of my 45 years of working, I am working less and focusing on other activities. 2023 is a blank chapter. It is like a farm field near where I live in the winter…newly covered with crystal white unmarked snow…. the trees on the other side…. dark and mysterious.
You know how life will end. It ends in dust. Yet what is in between? This unwritten future, which is what matters. This is the year for me, largely unscripted. My purpose is rediscovering love, life, and contribution. I have been working for forty-five years, raising a family, running a company. Turning seventy, that was the wake-up call.
This is the year I have been talking about.
For the most part I have my health and stamina; I can (still) walk for miles at a time. I can do a 30-minute strength class on Peloton. I have my brain. When am I going to commit time to something beyond making money and surviving, waiting for dust? In January, I saw that I was doing 2023 like any other year. Working a lot; running the company; creating a future with it.
I needed an interruption. I needed something to break me up. I needed a statement to myself, my company, my family, and the world that this is a different year. I looked at trips. Lapland and Finland, while different, was too cold. Hiking in Cambodia and Vietnam seemed too placid. Biking in Cambodia and Vietnam hmm…
I had not been on a bike in two years, I had not biked over ten miles in twenty-five years, I was dealing with an injury to my knee and was not sure I would be able to bike long distances. I had little connection to Cambodia or Vietnam. I did not know the language. I had never been there. For the most part, it was a mystery. My ex and daughter both expressed concern at my ability to do the trip, but for me it was all perfect. A challenge coming together.
I had forgotten how great travel is for getting out of your rut, getting uncomfortable and seeing the world from a new perspective. Bike riding in Cambodia and Vietnam fulfilled the above. There I was riding a bike among thousands of scooters coming at me from all angles and sides. The street of Hanoi redefines chaos. Think of a school of fish and sticky rice as tools to cross a street and navigate. Being able to discern a hello honk from an I am about to run you over honk. I learned to bicycle in this environment.
Seeing a new, foreign country from the seat of a bike is the way to see a new, foreign country! There were water buffalo wandering, many temples, a Vietnamese cemetery dedicated to soldiers who fought against us, and the Hanoi Hilton.
There was this hot day and after a 30-mile bike ride we were being blessed by a Buddhist Monk. The Icy water cascaded down upon us. This is called a water blessing and what had been blessed before us was a new car. I love being in unfamiliar territory that I cannot fathom or understand.
As you can see, there were so many new sights, sounds and experiences. I came away revitalized, refreshed, and newly engaged. I highly recommend Adventure Travel for getting out of the rut, being able to see things new and getting reenergized. Yet as I sit with CEOs and business leaders, I see many other options.
Bill wants to meaningfully engage in racial equality and with systemic racism. Sally’s passion is mental health and ensuring that all have access to support and services. Rick wants to coach entrepreneurs. Joe has a start up in the pet industry – a bootie for dogs that will revolutionize pet shoes. Miriam just wants time to do whatever.
As these executives ponder the possibilities there is always the lurking issue of Time. When is there Time? When is the Time? When is the Time for that trip you want to take? For me next, it could be Antarctica or perhaps Mongolia or going back to Cuba or the national parks in America, which I have never been to. Time for that passion whether it’s making a difference, playing in a band or just chilling.
Recently I have been diagnosed with A-fib. This is heart condition while not immediately threatening, it could be. There are few symptoms and some procedures, doctor visits, crowded offices, and appointments. These are all distractions demanding attention. For the first time in my adult life my returning to health is a focus. It has made me think that now is all we have and that the future is totally unwritten.
So, my beloved business leader and executive, when is the time? You have your success, your grandkids and all that is gratifying. However, that is not what I am talking about. Is there a Buddhist water blessing in your future? Is there a Cambodian ten-year-old girl on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere waving joyfully and practicing her English by saying hello?
When is it time to have your dreams go from someday maybe I will do that to this is it and now is the time to do that. When do you go from a someday maybe life to a this is it life? When is booking the trip, playing the instrument, or having the conversation the thing that happens right now? Let me know what actions you are taking that light you up, excite you and free you from resignation and just another day. Let me know what your adventure will be. I look forward to hearing from you.
Keep causing and creating.