It’s interesting where your mind wanders when you are traveling on an open highway. Thoughts of the weather, the rustling of the wind around the car, getting lost in random thoughts. Wondering where the last 50 plus years have gone. Some memories leaking from the corner of your eyes. This weekend is one of these types of road trips. My wife, her mom, and her two daughters and I are traveling to central Texas for my wife’s brother Greg’s memorial service. Greg was her older brother and was 58. It is an emotional journey and offers plenty of time to reflect and talk. I try not to imagine my own kids traveling to one of their sibling’s funerals or, traveling to one of my children’s like it is for Teri’s mom. Teri wonders where the time went.
I look back on my life, my siblings, and my adult children and wonder the same thing silently in my mind. We try and focus on the love shared and not on the regrets. Stories intermittently flow out, some funny, some sad, some poignant, but all part of the tapestry that wove various lives together.
“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin
It seems life is full of these types of ‘road trips”. Times that offer us a chance to slow down, reflect, and have deep and meaningful conversations. A time to both grieve and celebrate, as paradoxical as that may seem. Many of these road trips are spontaneous and unplanned. They are part of the serendipity that characterizes so much of life. Many times, they present themselves and we do not slow down enough to recognize the opportunity. Sometimes we shut ourselves off because the pain of reflecting and the vulnerability of the possible conversations scares us. Can we be intentional and consciously tune in to these opportunities? Can we create the space to have these times of reflection and deep meaningful conversations about things that matter most, apart from times of loss?
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller
Organizational life is a microcosm of these experiences. Life does not just happen apart from our jobs and workplaces. We sometimes try to compartmentalize our lives, separating our sense of who we are outside of work and who we are at work. For some, emotions are shut off at work and deep, meaningful conversations and connections are avoided. Interestingly enough, for some, it is just the opposite. The opportunity for both, however, is there; to be connected and vulnerable in all aspects of our lives. Live is too short to just live for the weekends and vacations. Organizational life should be meaningful and fulfilling.
These “road trips” are there in all areas of our lives. Do we recognize these types of “road trips” in our organizations? Do we slow down to reflect and have deep and meaningful conversations? It seems much of organizational life is spent chasing goals, solving problems, worrying and speculating on what might happen and at the same time, wondering what happened. We so often miss the opportunity (and necessity) of slowing down, connecting, and having conversations about the things that matter even more deeply. What conversations could and should you be having with those closest to you, both at home and at work? When we come to the end of or careers and organizational life, what will be your memories? What stories will you recall? What stories and memories will your colleagues recall? How will you be remembered?