Recently at an Agile conference, I was chatting with someone and they remarked “I realized that there was no reason for me to not start coordinating travel around where I wanted to go and not just where I was asked.”. I’m almost ashamed to admit that even as she said this, I thought “yeah, why wouldn’t you?” Yet, I wasn’t and I obviously didn’t accept this fact at that time.
I can own this now after this past week’s travel. I had the opportunity to travel to a client site in Dublin, Ireland for a week. This opportunity wasn’t sought out; it just sorta happened based on a request from the client. I arrived Friday morning and was able to spend the weekend exploring Dublin before the heavy week of training began.
I’ve wanted to come to Ireland. In fact, I had this plan in my head that we would come to Ireland for our 20th wedding anniversary. So as I walked around the city, I was both happy and felt a little bad that I was experiencing this without Pete. I spent days walking miles over different parts of the city, going on a train to explore other areas, etc. Despite any jet lag, I felt relaxed and lucky. That’s when I realized the difference. For example, I don’t explore LA or Atlanta. I enjoy both places but I don’t spend my days walking around. I don’t feel the need to buy a souvenir. I bunker down in the hotel or the same restaurants to try to catch up on work. This is the difference between where I want to go and where I am willing to go. Yes, I definitely say no to things for places that I don’t want to go but am I making choices to go where I want to visit? As of now, no.
I have this amazing career opportunity to make this choice a reality. I can setup a public training anywhere – even if I don’t have a client in that area. Why haven’t I actively thought about a plan for places that I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans, Miami, England, Italy heck even Australia. I’m not saying that will be my only traveling destinations but sprinkling them in definitely wouldn’t hurt my mental health.
So why does this apply to leaders…why am I sharing this here? In this reflection, I can’t help wondering how many choices I have made confusing willing for wanting. Yes, as leaders we have to be willing to do many things but we shouldn’t sacrifice what we want, especially if we can align them. I have even begun realizing that the times I’ve focused on what I want; are the times that caused me angst because I felt it was selfish. Yet it’s funny, I often say “I’m a better mom, when I’m a happy mom”. So as long as happy doesn’t mean neglecting/abusing/etc people, why wouldn’t this be true too “I’m a better leader, when I’m a happy leader”? I can coach and train and do it in places that I want to visit; and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
What do you want that will help you be a happy leader?