“Are you on a journey?” asked the kind woman sitting across the table from me. I’d just arrived at my destination after a wonderful, invigorating but long day on the road and was hungry and tired. I was caught off guard by her question and stared back blankly. “Aren’t we all on a journey?”
I was on a research trip to Pocahontas County, West Virginia and had been booked into Mountain Quest Inn (MQI). The woman asking me the question was my hostess for the next few days. Dr. Alex Bennet and her husband Dr. David Bennet operate MQI not only as a vacation getaway, it’s also a retreat and research center with a staggering number of books in their library.
Both Alex and David are world-renowned for their expertise in knowledge management, leadership, change management – for both individuals and organizations – and host executive retreats and are invited all over the world to train others.
Her question initiated quite a conversation and has stayed with me. I’ve now had had a few thousand miles to reflect it and offer this for your consideration.
9 tips for your personal journey
- Everyone is on a journey. Whether you realize, accept or believe it or not, everyone is cutting a path through life, enrolled in the classes you’re meant to take and hopefully learning the lessons. Otherwise, you get them again.
- You are on your journey wherever you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re working, on vacation or taking a sabbatical. Wherever you are, whomever you’re with is where you’re meant to be at that moment in time. Look for the lessons, opportunities and gifts. They’re all there.
- One day is no different than the next. No day or activity is more important than another, if you’re listening to your intuition. What you’re doing every day counts just as much, no matter what it is or what you’re doing. Right now I’m spending time on the road, but the riding and traveling itself is no more important than anything else I do. Nor does it require more courage. What does require courage is being open to learning about yourself, then following through on what your intuition is telling you. Now that’s scary!
- Busy does not equal fulfillment. Just because you’ve traveled 1,200 kilometers/800 miles in a day, traveled through 40 states, work 16-hour days doesn’t necessarily equate to the lives you’re touching, or the lives that are touching you. Notches such as those on your belt certainly speak to determination, persistence and drive. But the question to ask is, “What is the real measure of the difference you’re making?” Then focus on that.
- Looking at things from a different angle gives you new insights. An exercise that clients find useful in removing blocks is to close their eyes and visualize themselves as someone else would see them. It’s amazing the clarity this can bring. There’s nothing like putting yourself into a completely foreign situation to do the same thing. The distance doesn’t matter, however. What counts is taking yourself outside your routine and being open to what you see. It’s uncomfortable, awkward, frustrating – and insightful.
- Help is there for the asking. Whether it’s asking Spirit for advice or a neighbor at the next campsite to help set up a tent in the wind (although you usually they offer before you can ask), it’s amazing what happens when you just ask.
- It’s often easier to recognize kindness in strangers than those closest to you. Someone lends you an unrequested hand and you recognize the kindness in that person. The same thing is happening every day with those closest to you, it’s easier to expect it and not see it for what it is. Appreciate the gifts from everyone.
- Even truck drivers are courteous. I get frustrated with the barrage of transport trucks on the road. They’re hard to see around, create turbulence and slow you down when they pull out to pass another even slower truck. But they’re there filling their purpose, transporting goods that consumers are demanding across the country. Treating them with respect on the road by making sure you’re visible in their mirrors, don’t cut them off or cut in and out shows respect for the skill needed to operate those big rigs. They’ll reciprocate by protecting you when necessary. The point is, show respect to others, don’t judge and usually, they’ll do the same for you.
- There is no map for this journey. I like paper maps when I travel. I can see the big picture, see where I am and plan my route accordingly. Yet even with planning, you never know what awaits you around the corner; when a detour can force you onto a route you hadn’t anticipated and meet that person who can help you with the project you’re working on. Much as you think you can plan for your journey through life, that route is beyond you. You have your unique skills, attributes and gifts. You also have your intuition to guide you. Yes you can make plans, but ultimately it’s your unique gifts and the choices you make that map your journey.
Next time you’re looking for directions on your map, consider these tips for your personal journey. While the ultimate course you take may not be what you planned, it will be right for you.