“It’s been a week. And I can’t shake it off. I can’t shake off the encouragement, the connection, and yes, the love of a group of people who get me.”
These are the words that started off a post I made to a group of colleagues recently. If you have ever travelled without your family for business purposes then you may have at some point asked a version of the following questions:
Do I have to go?
What will I get out of it?
Should I feel guilty for leaving?
Will my husband remember to feed the children?
Will my children remember to feed the lizard?
Should I come back early?
How much laundry will be waiting for me when I come back?
Do I have to come back at all?
Should I feel guilty for that last question?
Whether your travel is required by your job, something you think will be good for your business, or something you really want to do (the last two categories are where my travel fits in), it is probably a good idea to make the best of it.
Let’s say that the home front is taken care of, your family supports you, and guilt has no hold on you. Whether or not it was your idea, you are off and away on a business trip. I have compiled some thoughts that may help you look for the best during your trip.
1. The Content
The content is probably the first reason for any group to meet. What will you take away that will benefit you in your job or business? You may be learning a new skill set or taking an exam. It may be more elective content, in which case you may find that focusing on one new thing to implement when you return home is enough.
2. The People
You can learn things from people that they may not even be trying to teach. Perhaps the head of the company is a gentle, humble man and you learn something new about leadership just by watching him. Perhaps the facilitator of the event is awesome and you learn how to run an event simply by watching her. Maybe the teamwork displayed is a pleasure to behold.
3 .The Opportunity
Give and receive. In some cases you may have an opportunity to give back to a wonderful community of like-minded people. I actually think it’s a responsibility. By building your community, you can grow your community, and therefore continue to build each other up. There truly is joy in giving. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing by declining some events.
4. The Community
The purpose of your business event may be about community as much as it is about content. One of the hats I wear is that of a Simply Music Piano teacher. I will again quote myself from the post I made after a recent teachers’ retreat:
It wasn’t because of the content, although that was great! I wouldn’t have missed the content for the world. Almost more than the content, however, it was connecting with the people. There were people there that I wanted to see and be with. Each year I get to know somebody else a little bit better. We understand where we’re coming from as piano teachers. Our combined experience is powerful. …Why do we care about knowing somebody that lives across the country or across the globe from us? Because we’re in this thing together, baby! Each year I attend means I’ve taught another year longer. Each year I attend I reach out to people that I may not have reached out to in previous years. Each year those friendships I make only grow stronger. Even if I only see you once a year at this retreat, it’s a type of friendship I can’t have with anyone else besides another Simply Music teacher. As one teacher says, “This is my tribe!”
5. The Result for Me
Are you a better person because of this trip?
Notice I didn’t say “business person” or “teacher” or “entrepreneur”. This point is the most important. How am I letting what transpired on this “business” trip improve me?
6. The Result for My Family
How will this trip be good for my family? How can this time of separation from them be good? Separation makes the heart grow fonder. Yes, but. But I’m the type of person who wants/needs to immerse myself in my time away. I thrive in immersing experiences! Although the overarching statement of “I miss you while I’m gone” is true, in the moment by moment involvement of my experience I don’t miss my family and prefer not to think about them. My husband has come to understand my need for immersion where I’m at, and I have come to understand that I still need to poke my head out and communicate with him. That may seem like a no-brainer, but I can get tunnel-vision quite easily. More than the simple appreciation for one another that can occur after a physical separation, my time away has fostered a better wife for my husband, and a better mom for my children. I have allowed and invited myself to grow as a person during times of separation from my family. I think of it as a type of gathering of myself, of finding stillness because I’m away from home and family. In still moments, I grow. There is stillness in the separation.
If the result of my business trips improves me as a person, and therefore improves my interaction with not only my clients but also with my family, it’s a good thing.