When I first started as a business traveler a long, long time ago, I took my Type A, driven personality to a whole new level. It was unleashed on the “open road” if you know what I mean.
I dove into this new opportunity that now included traveling the country and eventually certain parts of the world.
And I loved it.
I already went 100 miles an hour at home and now I was given the freedom to do the very same things on my own on the road.
And I met hundreds and hundreds of business travelers who validated my theory.
Personal Drive which was inner
Road Drive which was outer
And I poured myself into my work. Nobody could and would outwork yours truly on the road. And if I found out you did, I would sleep less and try to wear you down.
I even coined a phrase I use often called the Travel Triangle:
- Board Room
- Hotel Room
Wash – Rinse – Repeat.
And between us girls, I got good and I mean really good at the Travel Triangle.
I prided myself on not being outworked and killing it on the road.
But here is the biggest misconception I thought to master the business travel life.
Are you ready for it? It’s all about WORK.
Um, excuse me. Aren’t you there to work? After all, it is called BUSINESS Travel. Touche.
But not ONLY work. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a free pass to slack off.
The Biggest Misconception to Master the Business Travel Life is it’s only about Work.
I believed this lie for far too long. I went from a not-so-suite job to c-suite.
I had the cheap rental cars and lousy hotel rooms and fast food meals to living large and driving cool cars right up to my plush hotel, eating the best of the king’s food and drinking the best of the king’s wine.
But in the end, believing this misconception, business travel is only about work, almost took two very important parts of my life.
What are they? Let me tell you how I found out first of all.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always gone 100 miles an hour in my life and it manifested itself with business travel.
I could get more done in a day than the average guy.
- More trips.
- More presentations.
- More meetings.
- More emails.
- More calls.
I was up late and up early.
This high-performance car showed no signs of any deterioration. At least on the outside.
Nothing but praises and raises were given to this high performer. But then when I turned 40, things internally were going wrong.
I was getting very strange symptoms:
- Heart racing
- Flush face
- Eyes glazed over
- Inability to absorb content
- Sleeping and never feeling any effects of the rest
I went to the doctor and they told me the good news / the bad news
And you know what I did after that? Absolutely nothing. I went harder. And harder. For years.
Until age 45, my body shut down and shut down hard. A complete and utter engine blowout.
It was like I took a turn marked 30 and I slowed down from 100 to 70, hit the wall and the race was over.
But wait, there’s more.
At the same time, I was always busy on the road so therefore had little to no time to check-in with friends and family back home. My friends understood or simply moved on.
They were feeling Dad’s distance both physically and emotionally.
To be blunt… It was not good.
My wife and I were fighting over stupid things when I left, and we were stressed while I was gone. It was brutal and hard enough leaving, and then to end with a massive fight just sucked.
Then the kiddos tension…
Kids cried when I left and were upset about what I missed while I was gone. I checked in at all the wrong times and was always distracted.
I was killing it on the road and getting killed at home. I was important on the road but invisible at home.
To be honest, I was a hot mess when I got home due to the exhaustion, and then just so disconnected with home trying to make up for lost time but feeling paralyzed on how to make this mess I created any better.
How’s that for a vulnerability bomb?
What resulted was the foundation of the Three Focus Areas of Elite Road Warrior:
- Home Life
Remember, the biggest misconception to master the business travel life was in the 1st focus area: WORK.
Is it important? Absolutely. In fact, it’s Energy Habit #4: PERFORM. It’s why we’re ON the road. But it’s not everything.
If you lose your health, how much harder is work, or how much does work matter?
If you struggle or lose your family, how much is work affected?
When I lost my health, everything in my life was on hold. I couldn’t work. My life revolved around my next medical test. Forced rest. Supplements.
When I had stress back at the Buckley ranch, my mind was elsewhere on the road. I felt the tension and handled it in unhealthy ways.
Not good, road warriors.
The stark reality is the three focus areas are all inter-related.
Eventually, I learned that when I had my health in an optimal place and my relationships back home with those I loved were strong, my work on the road actually improved.
This is key.
- I had more energy.
- I had less stress.
- I had more clarity.
- I felt more supported and connected.
Let’s be brutally honest…
The inbox will always receive emails.
There will always be calls to return.
There will always be another proposal to write, presentation to give, deal to close.
But nobody can take care of your health except you.
Will the business world end if you took 20-30 minutes to go for a walk or run or workout in the hotel fitness center or hotel room?
Hence energy habit one: MOVE.
I chose to take the challenge every single morning on the road.
Prioritize the 2nd Focus Area of HEALTH.
And those you love back home: What if you took just a couple of minutes to stop being the check-in guy or girl and became a connect-in guy or girl who learned to leverage the road to grow that relationship in ways you wouldn’t at home through energy habit six: CONNECT – connect intentionally, thoughtfully, and creatively.
It’s how I created the Not Forgotten Journal you’re now hearing about.
It why I created the Flat Kiddos.
It’s why I send postcards to my older sons.
It’s why I pre-write and pre-record intentional, thoughtful words to those I love back home so they know they’re still a priority to me while I’m not physically there with them.
Here’s the point:
Your business world will change entirely if you stopped believing the biggest misconception to master the business travel life that it only has one focus area: WORK.
Take care of your health because only you can. Take care of your family intentionally, thoughtfully, and creatively to invest into their lives.
Here’s a hard reality:
Remember, your family has a choice of whether to connect or reconnect with you if you’ve been physically and emotionally distant. They don’t have to come back to you so don’t put yourself in that position. Two are involved in this decision.
I’ve had too many conversations that break my heart with especially men of power after a couple of double vodka tonics who admit they’re on their 2nd or 3rd marriage and/or their kids could care less if they’re in their lives or not.
My heart breaks hearing this out of shape, lonely, broken but seemingly highly successful business traveler killing it on the road.
It doesn’t have to be this way, road warriors.
There are three focus areas to becoming and remaining an elite road warrior for a reason:
- Home Life
My hope is that this is a wake-up call to see how you’re personally doing in the three focus areas. You may be doing great in one, but what about the other two? Or maybe good on two but what about the other one?
Remember, you can always find another job but you can’t always get your health back or get your family back.
My hope and prayer is that you do whatever it takes to become and remain an elite road warrior and it starts by no longer believing the biggest misconception in business travel and excelling in all three focus areas of Work / Health / Home Life.
So, wherever you are on the road, do something, anything, just not nothing to master the business travel life.
You Got This!