(Today’s post is courtesy of Lynn Townsend, a former Humanergist and veteran of the rat race who has lived to tell the tale!)
Recently a former colleague of mine, HK, retired. HK had spent more than two decades as an engineer for a Fortune 500 food company. One of my favorite memories of HK came from a long week on the road. HK and I, along with other team members, were working long days and nights to start production of a new product. One evening, after the rest of the team had finished for the day, HK and I left the plant for dinner. We were tired. Dragging. Exhausted.
On the return trip to the plant, we saw a dead raccoon at the side of the road. It looked like most road kill after a few days in the sun – like a balloon with four paws. As we passed the animal with the unfortunate fate, HK said: “That’s just how I feel,” stretching out his arms to mimic the bloated animal. I laughed. I don’t think I’ll ever get that image of HK out of my head.
Business road warriors, those who travel regularly for work, usually have great stories. Some, like the road kill, are funny. Others not so much. Like the time I returned to my hotel room to find the cleaning lady using my fingernail clippers. Not joking! Or when it took me 14 hours to make a 2-hour flight. Oh, and that subzero night when the hotel heat was out and the mattress factory two blocks down caught fire at 2 a.m. Ahh, business travel.
Fortunately, I did learn a few survival tips while my colleagues and I racked up the frequent flyer miles:
Play a little. Traveling with a team and working side by side for 14 to 20 hours, day after day, can max the most easy-going person. Take time to do something fun with your team. Order pizza. Sing karaoke. Cook dinner together. Shoot hoops.
Laugh! A shared team humor, like fun nicknames and inside jokes, is great glue to bond your team. Remember: Humor should be in good taste and acceptable to all teammates.
Put your own oxygen mask on first. Don’t forget to take a few minutes or an hour or two each day to revive yourself. Exercise. Read. Relax. A little down time helps restart your engine and gives both you and your colleagues a break from each other.
Stick together. When the speed bumps pop up in the road, stick with your team. Challenges will come. See past each other’s flaws and fatigue. Give a little grace, kindness and forgiveness.
Frequent business travel isn’t for the faint of heart (and apparently doesn’t bode well for raccoons). Nevertheless, you can survive admirably on the road when you know: Travel is glamorous only in retrospect (travel writer, Paul Theroux.).
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