In the late 90s, I was influenced by the writings of Dan Sullivan, the founder of The Strategic Coach program, a process for helping entrepreneurs grow. His perspectives helped me manage my career and life. One of his core processes is called The Entrepreneurial Time System where time is divided into three types of days: “free days” (off-limits days to rejuvenate), “buffer days” (preparation days), and “focus days” (performing days).
Although I couldn’t organize my time in this way, I did benefit from the thinking behind it. In particular, Dan believes that you create breakthrough ideas during a series of consecutive “free days” where you completely remove yourself from work (including emails or reading business journals). Mark, my friend and fellow Sullivan fan, and I would ask each other about our breakthrough idea after each vacation. They were usually good ones.
I thought of Dan this week when my family went skiing at Whistler. On day 3, my breakthrough idea came to me about half way up the mountain. I realized that my greatest achievements are ahead of me.This is true of most people but declaring it verbally and in writing creates the mindset necessary to make it real. Questions like “What are better achievements?” and “What would have to be true to achieve them?” have started forming the steps to reach them. My book is my next step.
As we left Whistler Village for the last time, a sign in front of the The North Face store captured the gist of my breakthrough: Never stop exploring (to become your best).
Last week, I heard that Ontario Place, a recreational park started in 1971, was closing. This saddens me because two eras of my life were closely linked to this attraction. I worked there for two summers while in university and visited every summer as our boys were growing up.
|1981 – I’m second from the right
I worked with 10 guys in the boutiques department, pricing and delivering merchandise to the stores on site. The warehouse was the first ‘man cave’ I had seen. It was located in the maintenance compound away from the public so we were free to talk, laugh, and play music all day long. The grounds included an open-air forum where musical acts played nightly. As a staff member, I got to see many diverse bands for free, including Blondie, The Spinners and Gato Barbieri. With 500 young people on staff, the parties were great, too.
One winter I also worked in the Cinesphere, which was the first permanent Imax theatre. My first paid public speaking job was welcoming people to the show and proclaiming the benefits of Imax technology – my first sales pitch. I remember the lights were so bright that I couldn’t see the audience.
Nostalgia for Ontario Place came early. In my late twenties my friend Dan, a fellow OP warehouse worker, and I planted a time capsule on site that we buried under a pine tree we bought for the occasion. It was our toast to a great place that sparked our great friendship.
|2004 – Charlie and Sam
As soon as our boys could walk we took them to Ontario Place. They loved the water park and rides just like the kids I saw while working there. I also smiled at staff members, knowing the fun summers they were having.
My most recent memory of Ontario Place was last week when I ran by the front entrance. It still looked great.
So what does this have to do with writing a book on change management? First, there is loss with change and you have to acknowledge it. Second, usually there are good reasons for making big organizational changes. Ontario Place has been operated with a 20 million dollar deficit for years and the provincial government could no longer justify the cost, which I support.Third, a picture of a better future is important to help people deal with their losses. A task force has been set up to look at options for the site. Without a clear picture of the future, the only thing known is the loss. This I do not support.
Every year during the holidays, a friend and I choose a destination to visit in the summer. We’ve been to many cities in the US and Canada. Each one has its special attractions and memories.
|Ernest Hemingway’s study, Key West
This year we discussed going to Key West, Florida, the southernmost city in the continental United States. It would be great to visit Ernest Hemingway’s home to see where he wrote ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro.’
Why are we fascinated by environments that produce great things? Is it the belief that we, too, can get something positive from these spaces, that something magical will rub off on us? If so, is it the physical space or the spiritual presence that holds this magic? Could we get it by sitting in Hemingway’s writing chair or by closing our eyes and taking in the essence of his study?
I started thinking about how my environment has played a role in my writing. What made it productive? What facilitated the connection between intention and output? Perhaps, like most things, it’s a collection of factors versus one ‘silver bullet.’
If you get inspiration by visiting famous places, that’s great. If you create your own productive space, that’s great, too. As long as an environment helps you get to where you want to go, you are in the right place. So far, it’s working for me. Phil
|Writing: 1. Source materials, calendar, to do list, and latest draft, 2. Where thoughts turn into words, 3. My plan – front and centre, 4. My printer that churns out numerous drafts, 5. Reference materials