Sunday, May 9, 2010

Making peace with my commute

Today, Friday May 7th, I went to my first MBA-related event, The Chick-Fil-A Leadercast. Leaving my house at 6:45am to arrive by 7:45, I realized this was going to be my life. I live in Toluca Lake, a small neighborhood near Burbank, a good 35 or so miles from Pepperdine. My lease is not up until February, so for at least the first six months of school, I will be commuting.

During the simulcast, we heard from more then ten speakers, focusing of various subjects revolving around good leadership skills and tactics to employ if you are to be more successful in your life; job, personal, or otherwise. One speaker in particular reminded me of something very important. Steve Uzzell, a National Geographic photographer, spoke about the spirit of the open road. The “spirit of the open road” is not just the freeing feeling you get when driving through the Malibu Canyon toward Pepperdine, but is a specific mindset you can put yourself into in an effort to achieve greater clarity. He explained that by using the spirit of the open road, you could begin problem solving, as it helps to clear your mind and give you a different focal point. He, of course, had the luxury of using this concept literally, having traveled down many open roads throughout his life. Living in Los Angeles, we may not always be so lucky.

However, this is not just a literal experience, but can be a frame of mind. He said there are steps you can take to access the spirit of the open road.
- Make all preparations necessary. This means a few different things.
*Know where you’re going. You don’t need to know how to get there, but know where you want to end up.
*In addition, question all previous expectations, everything, and be willing to start at the beginning. Even things you thought you knew can be reexamined and perhaps reconfigured to suit your needs better.
*While attempting to challenge what you know, ask an additional question: “Are you sure?” In other words, is this the best way to go about this?

When you ask all the right questions, and put yourself in a prepared state of mind, you are more likely to solve even the toughest problems. Because you were in the right place at the right time. As Steve Uzzell said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
- Have the courage to always pursue your passions. This is something that, in business, sometimes falls to the wayside, as life gets in the way. Obviously having the ability to combine to two is ideal, but making time to pursue your passions, regardless of how it impacts your career, could surprisingly do just that. Impact your career. He explained that by expanding your knowledge base and becoming an “expert” in something, you are more likely to find a use for this surprising knowledge. No knowledge is useless. In addition, when you feel passionately in something, you are more likely to trust your instincts and be more finely in tune with them.

-Lastly, you have to love and respect the journey. This brings me back to my commute. My trip home began with the winding, sunny road and shadowy mountainsides along Malibu Canyon Road, a reflective smile across my face and enjoying the commute just a little bit. Hitting Calabasas, the nature I had been entranced in slipped away the closer I came to the 101. The ups and downs of this short trip turned into a near standstill as I creeped home, my car seemingly stuck in the rolling parking lot that is the 101. Eventually, once past the 405, my car picked up speed and I was briefly blessed with as close as one can get to an open road in the middle of a Friday in Los Angeles.

On this brief hour-long trip, I reflected on the many speakers I had heard and planned article after article in my head. Hastily jotting down notes when the traffic allowed me to, I realized what Mr. Uzzell was talked about. By respected my commute, and making peace with it, I could get a surprising amount of work done. The pre-planning stage unraveled in my head, barely noticing the annoying traffic or the people who don’t know how to use a blinker. I honestly barely noticed it had been an hour. And I respected the journey. I knew that there were beautiful moments thrown in amongst the chaos and on either side of this voyage were a stunning college campus with reflective ocean moments and on the other, a warm bed and a smiling kiss from my boyfriend. This metaphor may have not only opened my eyes to the benefits of a long commute but also reminded me that everything in our life is a journey, and as long as you start out with a positive frame of mind, you will end in a similar fashion. Just be prepared for the commute.

**For those interested in other reflective articles about the rest of the event, please leave me a comment with your email address and I’ll send it to you. It was far too fruitful an event to post everything here. Thanks!

No comments:

Post a Comment