Two years ago while on a site selection trip to identify a location and hotel partner for the LeaderSurf leadership development program I met Gilles Rusca and his girlfriend Aurelie Dafflon. Gilles and Aurelie are from Switzerland and had moved to Nicaragua to run the Buena Onda Beach resort and to build a new life for themselves. The Buena Onda Beach Resort sits on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and has some of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.
Each evening of the trip, my family and I would venture down to the beach to watch the epic sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. Each evening as we enjoyed the sunset I notice that Gilles and Aurelie were also down on the beach enjoying the sunset. At dinner one evening I asked Gilles about the fact that he and his wife were watching the sunset as well. He commented that when he moved to Nicaragua he committed to doing two things each day for himself.
1) Watch the sunset each day with his girlfriend.
2) Get in the water every day. Whether it is to surf or just to swim.
I loved the fact that Gilles was so deliberate in choosing two things to do each and every day just for himself. His daily rituals of watching the sunset and getting in the water made me question whether I had my own daily rituals and I struggled to find any. I questioned my wife about whether she had any and she too struggled to identify any. This was a good point of reflection for me. As an executive coach who helps leaders to become more self-aware and to find more happiness in their lives, I had a realization that I was not heeding my own advice.
Life gets too busy and we fall into the trap of living our lives to meet the expectations of others. We drown in our commitments and leave ourselves with too little time to do the things that are important to us. We all need more “me” time and the only way that will ever happen is if we make a conscious effort to carve out time for ourselves.
A challenge to you, the reader of this article, for the next two weeks commit to two things you will do every day for yourself. Indulge yourself in the activity and commit it to a habit. By taking that extra time to meet your personal needs, you will become more attentive and more patient with the needs of others. The actions could be simple things like making a journal entry every day to capture your reflections on the day, calling a loved one on the phone every day, walking the dog for 30 minutes each day, reading a novel for one hour a day, hugging your kids and telling them you love them every day, etc. You own the activity and the goal is to do it because it makes you feel good. Think of this as a selfish act that fulfills something that has been missing in your life.
Your goal is to create a daily ritual that selfishly fulfills something that was missing in your life. I know of many people who dream of one day living near the beach only to move to a beach town and then never take the time to go and enjoy the beach. The key is to not feel guilt for taking time for yourself.
So much has been written about servant leadership and being selfless. Through my own personal experience, I am finding that to be a good selfless leader, one needs to take the time to be a bit of a selfish leader too. Being selfish and selfless can go hand in hand. It is a matter of balancing one’s time and effort.
Fast forward to today, I just returned from my third full LeaderSurf program at the Buena Onda Beach Resort. Gilles and Aurelie have become close friends and business associates over the past two years. As I built the LeaderSurf program which combines leadership development modules, executive coaching, humanitarian aid, daily surfing lessons and mindfulness, I wanted to incorporate a daily ritual. The daily ritual which has been a participant favorite is an activity I call Sunset Reflections. Each evening our group of business executives heads down to the beach to watch the sunset. I was pleased to see Gilles and Aurelie on the beach every evening performing their daily ritual as well. Each participant must share their daily sunset reflection.
Daily Sunset Reflections
Please capture one key learning from the day. Something that you learned about yourself or about the world that you did not know when you woke up this morning.
This daily activity was derived from my learning from Gilles and Aurelie. By articulating your learnings for the day, you are much more likely to digest the learning and turn it into future action. We learn new things everyday about ourselves or the world around us, but if we don’t take the time to reflect on those learnings, they tend to escape us. We must be more mindful and take more time for ourselves.
Incorporating a daily ritual and a daily sunset reflection are two ways that you can be more mindful person. You will come to appreciate so much more of the world around you.
To Gilles and Aurelie, thanks for the life lesson and for being such good hosts for the LeaderSurf program in Nicaragua.