I am sitting on a British Rail train racing (well, sort of racing, in a very British Rail manner) through the English countryside on the way to Leeds to pay a visit to my hometown. I haven’t been here for what feels like a lifetime.
It’s been a little over a week now since I left Sydney for some much needed quality time out for me and my family. That week in some ways also feels like a lifetime. Because it’s been a little over a week of not checking in on emails, not networking across social media, not writing, planning or strategising. It’s been a little over a week of not doing the weekday juggle… and the best news?
I’ve still got two weeks left – and some super exciting meetings to have!
Taking time out, switching off, relaxing and doing nothing is a challenge for many of us. It’s so challenging that an entire industry has evolved teaching us the essential ‘how to’s’. In Arianna Huffington’s bestselling book ‘Thrive’ she shares (with significant quantitative evidence) that part of the third metric of success is wellbeing – but it seems that in the warp-speed of the 21st century and its constant change, we find it easier to switch up the gears, speed up and do more. Conversely, the ability to work back down the gears and take much needed time out is significantly more challenging for some of us.
And I’ll be honest – focusing on the present requires an immense amount of personal effort.
This trip is as much about training myself to switch off, stop and rejuvenate (and understanding that it is OK to do this) as it is about quality time and creating new family memories.
So a week in (and in a tongue in cheek nod to Sheryl Sandberg) here’s how I have managed to ‘learn in’ to myself so far…
- The investment made in getting the right people around me has been worth it: I have chosen to work with people I love, doing what I love. I’m talking my team as well other key mentors, supporters and clients. I have always known that people are my biggest asset, and now to be overseas in the knowledge that I have an incredible team and support network that understand, support and choose to work with me to deliver my vision is amazingly humbling.
- Trust others: This trip has reinforced that for me to soar and deliver my vision others absolutely need to fly. Collaborative and collective thinking opens up new opportunities for growth. True leadership is listening to your team, enabling and encouraging them to fly in their turn, to take ownership, to make decisions knowing that they understand the vision and will make strong, focused and clear decisions in their turn based on that vision.
- Being present in the now creates increased visibility: It goes without saying that in business we have to plan and strategise our future and next move; however forcing myself to be present and in the moment has reinforced the power of mindfulness, of slowing down and focusing the mind which in itself actually creates the space for ideation, or as I like to call them “brain farts” – the sudden burst of an idea, of a door opening to new possibilities.
- Time to think is a gift: When you remove the pressure of time and deadlines and allow your mind to wander, to play, to explore and be curious about what could possibly be new projects, the brain starts bubbling… watch out team!
- Enjoy the simple pleasures: Travelling with a young family is truly fabulous as they stare wide eyed at everyday things. I have loved the daily journaling and been in awe of what to me is the simple stuff but to them is memory creation – playing in red phone boxes, a London taxi ride, the tube for the first time, Pizza Express dough balls, kicking through the autumn leaves (with no worry of biting spiders), 31 stairs to zoom down by derriere in Maz’s house and sock wrestling with friends! The learning? Remember the fun in the simple stuff.
- And finally… Laughter truly is the best medicine: Time with friends and family is essential for the mind and spirit (maybe not quite the body given it usually involves food and wine). To laugh uncontrollably till your face hurts, to spend time reminiscing with one’s dearest friends and simply creating new amazing memories as a family really has warmed the cockles of my soul.
So as I sit here, in the moment, about to visit a town that I haven’t visited for 14 years, I will continue to follow the words of Zoe in the office:
“Remember Janine, the 3Rs – relax, rejuvenate and rock n roll!”