More than twenty years in business has taught me a thing or two. Some of those things I learned back in my very first job – in a pizza restaurant of all places. Others, I learned in college, or early on in my marketing career. But even with all the experiences I’ve learned along the way, I continue to learn things about myself, my career, and even life, in the most unlikely of places. This past summer, I was taking some time off from work at our family lake house. And sure enough, a few things stuck with me that I knew would serve me well once I returned to my trusty MacBook Air come Monday morning. Four business lessons I learned from my favorite place to relax and unwind… our family lake house:
- Slow Down. I noticed it during a business luncheon a few weeks back. As our illustrious speaker was making his way through a really interesting presentation on social media (really, is there anything else that draws a crowd these days…?), the tweets were flying so fast and furious, you could all but here the whoosh of the tweets being sent through cyber space, as each of us raced to post first. Because really, if you’re not first, then you end up retweeting instead of being retweeted (the horror!). Typos were made. Statements were misquoted. Thoughts were lost. And two-way engagement was missed. Hell, even a funny joke or two was lost because everyone was looking down rather than up. I get that we’re all trying to get in on the social engagement game. But isn’t part of the point of paying to attend these conferences the fact that we’re in on something that other people don’t get to be? Isn’t that the point of the Intellectual Property we’re gaining – and you’re not? I suppose maybe the point is that we’re gaining it so that we can share it with you, and then we look like thought leaders, no? But if we’re so quick to shoot out the thoughts, what’s happening here? We’re taking a photo, editing it on the fly and posting it to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Have we even stopped to enjoy the moment as we took the photo? The moments before the photo was taken? Are our senses so dumbed down that we don’t feel, smell, taste, touch? That all we do is see? It’s become a game of one-upmanship. I just want to slow down. Out on the lake, it’s not easy to bring the iPhone, although we did. I guess I was falling into it, because as I was perfecting my headstand (and I actually did!), we did capture it on video and share it on Facebook. But here’s the thing: I enjoyed about four hours of sunshine before those 10 seconds of video were shot. So maybe it’s not all bad.
- Pay Attention. To the little things. At the lake house, we hand wash the dishes. Not
because we have to — there’s a state-of-the-art dishwasher right next to the double sink. But the pace is so slow that we enjoy lazy conversation over our meals and rather than ending them abruptly, we pour another glass of wine and continue talking as we clear the plates, fill the sink with soapy water and wash the dishes, all of us pitching in, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. It’s just… awesome. On one particularly humid morning after breakfast, we noticed this mama deer out the window over the sink. Had we been bent over the dishwasher, we might have missed her. Several years ago, I was working on a new product launch for a client. Coming up with the idea was proving difficult until something one of the sales managers said during a lunch stuck with me. That simple thought turned into a national mobile tour and earned our agency a Gold Reggie – the highest honor in the world of Promotion Marketing.
- Enjoy the Process. The drive to our lake house is only an hour, door to door. The first few years, every time I made the drive, I’d set the odometer and check the clock, trying to beat my time, even by a minute or two. I was so concerned with proving that I could make it out there in under 60 minutes, that I missed the conversations, the music and the scenery along the drive. It’s the same in business. We’re always in such a hurry, waiting for the next phase. You know you’ve said it… “I can’t wait until (fill in the blank)” whether it’s a client who signs a retainer, or you move to a larger office, or you get that big promotion or that flashy title. Just like life, every day that passes you by is a chance to learn, to grow and to prove your worth. Don’t miss it waiting for the next big thing. Besides, all of that learning will give you a ton of content worth writing about in your own blog!
- Let Go of What You Can’t Control. Things don’t always go as plan – that’s a given, right? Getting bent out of shape or worrying about it is not going to do you any good. We once planned an entire weekend at the lake house with out of town friends who’d never been there. We couldn’t wait to spend the entire weekend on the water kayaking, swimming and floating in the sun. Our plans were soaked when we woke up to thunderstorms Saturday morning. Instead we made do with card games, hikes in the rain, old movies, and great conversation. And on Sunday we were rewarded with a full day of sunshine. Plan, prepare to the best of your abilities and put a contingency plan in place, just in case. A rain date, if you will. Practice your presentation without any visual aids – just in case you lose power, or your PowerPoint fails at the last minute. If you’re well prepared in advance, you’ll be confident regardless of the circumstances.
Do any of these ring true for you? I’d love to hear your story! Reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My background lies in marketing, writing, blogging and social media. Whether your background is the same as mine or these skills might come in handy for your business… Let’s connect and create something fantastic!