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What I Learned about Motivation on My Summer Vacation

I’ve just returned from a two-week vacation in Israel, Jordan and Spain – and I am writing this email saddled with incredible jet lag, some squishy new love handles made from gelato, falafel and Manchego cheese, and many beautiful memories to last a lifetime.Deb_Jacob_Camels

What made this trip so special for me? My sole travel companion was my 15-year-old son, Jacob.

I knew that we would both enjoy sampling the local cuisines (luckily, gelato is always a local cuisine), taking history tours, shopping, swimming, and just wandering around. And I also knew that this trip would benefit from planning beyond flights, excursions, and lodging. It would require us to shift from a task focus (the what, where, when, and how of getting the trip off the ground) to a relationship focus (the who we were — separately and together – and why we were choosing to do this together.)

Admittedly, it’s that kind of focus that busy, driven people who are motivated by getting things crossed off their to-do lists often neglect — and the costs of that neglect include the loss of connection, collaboration, ownership, engagement, and meaning.

I didn’t want to look back on this trip and only be proud of what we did, where we went and how we got there. I wanted to look back on this trip and be proud of who we were and what we built together.

Can you think of a partnership or team you work on (or live with) that could benefit from a little more of that?

Here are 10 questions I asked my son and myself before our trip that you can bring to your next staff meeting, board meeting or Labor Day vacation.

  1. What’s our purpose for doing this?
  2. What could we do that would have each of us jump out of bed in the morning with excitement to get started?
  3. What would make each of us want to crawl back into bed and say, “I’ll pass”?
  4. What have we done in the past that we want to make sure we repeat?
  5. What have we done in the past that we want to make sure we don’t repeat?
  6. What do we each want to learn/get better at/get smarter about?
  7. How might we veto something that one of us really doesn’t like/doesn’t want to do?
  8. How should we let the other person know when we’re feeling stressed/sad/tired/overwhelmed/frustrated?
  9. How should we ask for personal time/space without it feeling “personal”?
  10. What would we want our sound bite about this [project/task/challenge/opportunity/trip] to be a month after? Six months after? A year after? 10 years after?

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