I’ve been thinking about the autopilot mode with which many of us experience our daily lives. We start the day by checking our phones for emails and messages, with a rush, a grumble, a complaint, or even a certain amount of obliviousness for the world around us. We begin the daily march by attending to the long list of tasks ahead of us. We often begin our days with a mindset of being burdened, overwhelmed or frustrated as we sit in traffic or attend endless meetings at work that seem to go nowhere. After long hours at the office, we hit the road again for another long, stop and start commute home, again barely noticing the world around us.
The effect of this path taken is to feel exhausted, tired and numb. For those of us who have children we pick them up, get them to after-school activities, run errands, make dinner, clean up, prepare the family for the next day, and perhaps watch a little television to relax before bed. We’re hardly looking forward to doing it all again. Many of my weeks and months started to feel this way after decades of attempting to align my professional and family lives. My energy cup started to empty without being refueled for sustained periods of time. I was only noticing the world around me through very bleary eyes.
Despite being a collegiate athlete with healthy eating and exercising habits, I started to experience some concerning health issues, undoubtedly due to the way I was traveling through life. I knew something had to change, as the more I ignored the symptoms and powered through, the more my body protested. During one particular stretch of overseas travel for work, I was sharing my experience with a close friend, who asked me this simple question; “When was I planning to take care of myself?” In my mind I said, “When I get back from this next trip,” however, I knew that wasn’t true. It was the interruption I needed, like a shot of cold water to the face, to pay attention to how I was functioning most of the time and what I was refusing to notice. The truth was that my mind, heart, body and soul were yearning for me to make a change.
This time I paused long enough to notice and take stock of where I was on my journey and the high price I was paying for this mode of travel. I made the decision in that moment to cancel my overseas trip the next day, and to start tending to a growing and persistent new awareness. During the year that followed, I slowed my work schedule as much as possible and wondered where my life was heading. After much deliberation and planning, the following year, I resigned from my wonderful but hectic job as an executive to begin a much needed break while launching my own business.
I’m grateful that I made the radical move to jump out into the unknown as the lessons I had to learn about resilience, creative energy and vitality are similar to what many executives struggle with in our volatile, unpredictable, constantly changing and ambiguous (VUCA) work world. In my work as an executive coach, I work with leaders that struggle with the same challenges and opportunities in their personal and professional lives. I’m looking forward to working with more of them in the coming years, to support their desires to be healthy, aligned, inspired, effective and successful at home and at work.
You could say, that I have New Eyes for the World. After a year of working less, refueling, thinking, reflecting, playing and being, I’ve launched my website for my executive coaching, organization and leadership development practice – the Red Rock Consultancy.
I hope with these blog posts titled, Reflections, that we'll have meaningful conversations about transformations in life and work, and we'll learn from our shared experiences.