I travel a great deal as part of my business. Often I'm away for three weeks out of every four. I get asked all of the time how I cope with all of this travel? Do I hate it? Am I sick and tired of it (I've been traveling a lot for many years)? How do I get myself to the airport, often several times a week? My response is the same, I don't hate it, in fact I love it because I've learned to look at it as an opportunity not a dreaded chore.
The reality is that it all comes down to the way we condition ourselves to think about a particular situation. For me, travel has always been a major part of my world, it will always be a big part of my business and if I hated it, my life would be unbearable. So I made the conscious decision to embrace it and use it for the opportunity that it is.
I make a point of using my travel time to get important things done, most of them work related. I write, I plan, I develop new products, I think about projects, I ponder, I reflect. And I get to do all of this without being disturbed by the phone or email. In fact I love to get on a plane because I know I will get more done on a three hour flight than I will for the rest of the day and sometimes the rest of the week.
So I've conditioned myself to look forward to traveling because I can work undisturbed and I can be super productive and that is what makes me feel great. If I started to resent it, it would become a chore and in time I would start to hate it. Because I've framed travel as an opportunity and something to enjoy, to thrive on, I look forward to every single trip to the airport, regardless of where I'm going or what I'm doing.
My point here is simple. Most of the time we take the easy route and complain about a certain situation or things we have to do, perhaps if we re-framed them, and focused a little more on what the opportunity was that they actually gave us, things might be very different.
I remember coaching a CEO of a printing company a few years back. He used to complain that he couldn't get enough done in his day, so he used his drive to work as the start of his working day and he really didn't like it. He used his commute to basically make calls whilst he was stuck in traffic. Most of the time he arrived at work stressed out, not actually feeling like he had been productive, as many of the morning calls were about solving problems. He dreaded the morning drive to work.
We needed to re-frame that morning commute and I started by slowly getting him comfortable again with just sitting in the car and not needing to be doing anything other than drive for short periods of time. I wanted him to not look at the time in the car as wasted time if he wasn't doing specific work related tasks, but rather look at it as an opportunity to retrain his brain to think a little differently. My aim was to get him to enjoy the time, to use it to think, to actually turn the phone off and let his brain go wherever it needed to go.
He started to change. The difference was quite remarkable as he learned to value his morning commute as the only time in the day where he actually got time to himself. He thought about things that needed to be thought about, he planned, he reflected, he pondered accordingly.
Within a few short weeks, his dreaded commute actually became his favorite part of the working day. He arrived at work relaxed, refreshed, calm, clear and ready for the day ahead. He had made decisions that needed to be made on the way to work, he had thought through problems and had the clarity to think about positive solutions and how we would implement them. And perhaps most importantly, he had time and the right head space to be appreciative of all the great things his business did for him and many others.
So a dreaded morning commute became a positive start to the day. For me, time spent at airports and on airplanes is something I look forward to because it's when I get some of my best work done in a "distraction free" zone. What day to day situations could you change to be more positive if you simply re-framed the way you though about them, perhaps turning them into an opportunity as opposed to a chore?
Most of us are quick to complain about the negatives in a situation, our self talk convinces us that we hate them or as minimum dread them, but with a flip in the way we think, and some time to reprogram, a lot can change. I'm off to the airport to get a pile of things done.