Several years ago I was in a role that was getting busier and busier. As the demands and distractions poured in I began to feel less energized and lose my focus.
And as my focus shifted, so did the focus of the entire team that I supported. With no corporate retreats in our future we needed to figure out how to refocus and recharge.
1. Create an EXPERIENCE:
- I brought some tiny matchbox cars to a meeting and asked everyone to take a car and personalize it.
- Then I gave them a bunch of foot-long crepe paper streamers and asked them to use a streamer to list one thing that was causing them to lose focus. (And they could use as many streamers as they needed to.)
- There were so many that the streamers quickly covered the cars and we talked about how hard it is to drive forward when you feel so covered up that can’t see the people you are working with, let alone where you are going.
- Then I brought out a rocket. (The kind you buy in a toystore that you can actually launch.) The rocket was “beautifully decorated” with each of our objectives, and we talked about how looking up and focusing on where we were going could help us prioritize the demands and distractions, decrease our confusion and stress and increase our focus and results.
And yes – when we achieved all of our objectives we drove to a field and shot off that rocket!
2. Find OPPORTUNITIES in your routine:
Outside of the office, travel has always been a way for me refocus and recharge. (And I’m not talking about vacations!)
My opportunities were on planes as I traveled to and from business meetings. That uninterrupted time away from my norm was filled with reading, thinking, and planing. Although there were no huge adventures – they always provided significant insights, increased focus and energy.
3. FULLY ABSORB the places you visit:
Since 2010 our vacations become intense thought-provoking, and transformational:
Our recent vacation outside of the sandbox was no exception.
Ahhhh… EVERY sense was relaxed and inspired!
- The temps were cooler – sometimes jackets were actually required! (Not the 110 degree heat we left behind.)
- The skies were bluer! (Literally as most days our skies are hazy with sand.)
- We saw puffy clouds DAILY! (A rare sight in the sandbox. I had no idea how much joy I would find in the sighting of puffy clouds before I left my native land.)
- And we saw so much green that I could feel my soul resting and restoring. (Yes – I literally got tears in my eyes as I whispered prayers of thankfulness!)
We shared a journey with loved ones that had never traveled overseas:
- We were inspired by their courage to journey far beyond their comfort zone.
- And reminded that doing anything for the first time causes discomfort but when you hang in there it fuels growth, builds confidence and may actually make you crave another adventure.
At one point in our journey we took a 4-hour long ferry ride to Ireland.
- On an uncommonly rough day at sea that made it difficult to stand or walk to a restroom and challenged even the toughest stomaches.
- The entire ride I thought about our ancestors that traveled a much greater distance as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean on an old ship without modern technology or conveniences and wondered how much more challenging that would have been.
A few days later we learned a bit more about the potato famine that devastated Ireland for 6 years.
- As more than one million people lost their lives.
- And another million left their homeland to survive.
- We heard stories and songs about that time in history and imagined what it must have been like to leave everything you knew and loved behind – knowing you may never see or hear from the people you left – ever again.
- We saw the type of ships they traveled on. (Called coffin ships – How does that inspire hope?)
- And again I thought of our tiny taste of turbulant sea travel and how challenging it would have been to travel such a great distance.
- And a story unfolded about JFK visiting his extended family in Ireland when he was the President of the U.S. – A story about his connection to the people and the land his ancestors came from, and their connection to one of their own experiencing the vision of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – to the full!
- For the rest of our time in Ireland, we frequently noticed American flags flying next to Irish flags. (Ah the power of vision and connection!)
And when we returned to the U.S. for a short visit, we read some family history for the first time, describing a journey across the Atlantic for a different set of ancestors, “…We had an awful storm one night. They came in and closed the two portholes and locked the doors. We were in there in that little room with no lights or anything. There were two bunks on each side of the wall and no bedding. I didn’t mind the ship going up and down and sideways, but Mother got awfully sick and almost died that night. …We arrived in America in New York! That’s what we’d been praying for and why we came over here – for the land of the free and the home of the brave.” And from there the story goes on to describe a new life, in a new world, with new challenges and struggles and ultimately a home, a life, a future.
Today we’re back in the sandbox
- Thankful for the shared adventure and the visual reminders about how much life and growth comes after we spend time outside of our comfort zones – and it doesn’t matter if we leave those zones by choice or by heartache.
- Feeling very connected to the lessons about struggle, courage, risk, vision and life that have come from our ancestors.
- And feeling recharged and refocused.
- Check out this article: Looking Back: 7 Times You Should & 7 Times You Should Not
- Purchase our NEW Book Energize Your Leadership: Get your Amazon Kindle Version Here or Have a book sent to you from Amazon here.
This week the USA celebrates Independence Day!
As a U.S. Citizen, I grew up being very proud of:
- My country – where people came to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
- My family – who left everything behind in their countries of origin because of oppression and poverty and came to the U.S. to pursue those ideals.
And even prouder of: My relatives and friends that served to defend the freedom of others.
Moving to the big sandbox we live in now took lots of prayer and courage because many of the freedoms I always cherished don’t exist here. …But we came believing that we were supposed to seek to understand and to learn.
We weren’t here very long when a neighbor challenged me to consider that Americans don’t have a corner on the market on freedom. I accepted her challenge and have been listening and experiencing for a little more than two years. And although we don’t have it all figured out yet, this is a bit of what we are learning…
When we announced our plans to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world. I promised to share both the beauty and the struggle of our experiences.
It’s been easier to capture the beauty and share it.
- Mostly because it’s energy-filled, it bubbles out and I know that people will be encouraged by it.
Sharing the negative side is tougher.
- Because it’s hard to write about the things that cause frustration and pain without being judgmental.
- And it’s even harder to write about them without feeling negative and heavy. (And that is not something I want to pass on to anyone.)
The reality is that our lives here are both beautiful and hard.
I grew up in a little town in North Dakota, where we had four very distinct seasons. My favorite as a child was summer – because I absolutely love being in the water!
It was refreshing, peaceful, freeing, great exercise and fun!
Unless we were camping by the lake… We would pedal our bicycles to the pool multiple times every single day. In the morning for an hour of lessons, then for three hours of open swimming in the afternoon and occasionally in the evening for another two – three hours of playing in the water!
If gills or a mermaid tail had been an option I would have them!
A few years ago I met a young woman that loved being in the water even more than I do. As a child she was on swim teams and lived in the pool. But at a very young age she was diagnosed with a disease that has impacted her body a lot like ALS.
I live more than 7,000 miles from my home, in an expat compound on the other side of the world.
Shortly after we moved here, one of my neighbors was venting about a conflict he had with another neighbor. In the midst of his anger he said, “I don’t know how the compound can let people live here that don’t have any integrity.”
Hit the pause button.
Replay… “I don’t know how the compound can let people live here that don’t have any integrity.”