For the last few weeks, I have been in Wyoming on my sabbatical (all Placers team members take one every 10 years). I’m accompanied by my wife, Kim, and two Aussie Shepherds, Ziggy and Gracie, in a small cabin-style rental.
Nature has welcomed us into its embrace as short-term guests in a place where Elk, Mountain Lion, and Moose roam free. Everything seems bigger in the West: The sunsets on the mountains – or “Alpenglow,” the deep snow, and wilderness that stretches uninterrupted for miles. I’m just passing by. Admiring its humbling grandeur. What a feeling – mankind, as powerful as we believe we are, is no match for the great outdoors.
For the most part, I am approaching my sabbatical as a time to be still. As many of you know by now, I enjoy continuous action – creating a to-do list and crossing things off gives me a perverse sense of satisfaction. I’ve discussed the importance of carving out intentional moments of stillness – my sabbatical requires me to do this for four weeks straight. To celebrate the day for everything that it was and for everything that it wasn’t.
Three weeks into my sabbatical and I have a newfound appreciation for the small, seemingly insignificant, daily events. Seeing, for the first time, the unique intricacies of a snowflake. Appreciating the quirks of my dog, Gracie, as she turns her head inquisitively. I am taking notes from my senses – savoring and cherishing everything around me. The sounds of solitude, the great smells from cooking with Kim (me watching her), or the breathtaking vistas from the mountains that surround us in almost all directions.
How often do you get to the end of your day and are unable to remember anything specific? It’s easy for life to become a series of repetitions until one day you look back and wonder where all the time went – you realize you haven’t partaken in your once-favorite hobby in years – you realize that your children are all grown up.
It’s no secret that I’m a recovering workaholic – decades ago I prided myself on 100-hour work weeks, but now I realize that there is infinitely more to life than work. A balanced life enables me to actually be more productive as a business owner and servant leader. For three weeks I’ve been spending my “still” time skiing, reading, snowshoeing, and the writing I’ve always wished I had time for.
All of this got me thinking – we can miss a lot on our journey towards “success.” We have tunnel vision – unable to see the small, beautiful details of life. Here’s what I could finally see when I took the time to slow down:
- The awe-inspiring beauty of the sun setting on the mountains – The Alpenglow. The kind of scene that makes you stop in your tracks and realize how grateful you are for our planet. One that has so graciously accepted humankind as its guests.
- That I not only love my wife, but I like her too. If you’re in a long-time relationship, you know the difference. Having a life partner of many years that you still look forward to spending every day with? Well, that’s something I took for granted when I would wake up at 4:30 am to get straight to work. I could write a novel about Kim and how the world is a better place with her in it. Think about your loved ones – I’m sure you could, too.
- That everyone has a story to tell and getting to know “the whole person” is never wasted time – even in business.
- My dog’s smile. Gracie has been smiling ear to ear ever since we reached our destination. We opened the doors, and she dove right into the snow. Her smile makes anything worth a 2,200-mile sojourn.
- That we have an abundance around us. We have choices – we can work where we want, do what we want – our opportunities are plentiful even if they may not seem like it on the surface. For me, abundance is simple – the less I think about myself, the more I can do for others as a servant leader and for the community that we serve. In doing this, blessings come back to me ten-fold – even in the most obscure ways. That is true abundance – and it has nothing to do with money. Because in the end, the only thing that truly matters is the positive impact you make in the world. There’s nothing like watching the sunset on a mountain to remind you of that.
So friends, what do you notice when you stop to slow down? What “small” things do you find yourself taking for granted? Share your stories with me. Let’s discuss.
Until next time!