I just spent a week in Dallas, Texas on business. Whenever I leave the office, people think I’m off having fun. They don’t realize that when you’re at a conference or a retreat, which this essentially was, it’s not like being in the office. When you’re in the office, you go in at 8 (or 7:15 in my case) and you leave at 5 (or much later in my case). You get to leave the office at the end of the day and leave your office persona behind.
When you’re at an off-site, there is no end of the day. Often you’re having breakfast with colleagues before you head into sessions. Then, lunch is a group event and whether it is a formal working session or not, work is often discussed. Then you head back into sessions. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an hour or two before the group dinner where, once again, work will be discussed whether in passing or intensely as a follow-up to the day’s meetings. After the group dinner, people will either congregate at the bar or in a hospitality suite. While this is optional, a lot of good discussions and ideas pop up during the informal networking that takes place with a round of drinks in hand.
At a conference or an off-site, you wear your office persona the majority of the time. And that’s exhausting.
But, if you’re with a group that you enjoy being with, it’s exhilarating and energizing. Even though the days are long, the time flies by because you’re with people who like you despite your personality quirks, who respect your opinions even if they’re not expressed as diplomatically as they could be, who want to hear your point of view even thought they know it’s different from theirs. When you’re with colleagues who are friends, work doesn’t seem like work and the impossible seems possible.
I wish things were like this at my office. But life is a series of choices, right? Even if I can’t be energized by the people in my office, I can choose to be energized by my projects. I can choose to be motivated by knowing my work has an impact. I can choose to look for bright spots in my day wherever I can find them. And in the meantime, I look anticipate my off-site meetings and conferences and I cherish the time I have with those colleagues.
The thought processor churns on!