I’ve worked with a lot of people. Seriously – a lot. Very often I am happy when a project ends and I get to say good riddance to these characters. Equally often, I leave feeling grateful for having had the opportunity to work with them. But every once in a while, I say goodbye to a colleague feeling a pang of regret that it had to end so soon. Wishing there had been more opportunities to collaborate. Feeling like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this person’s potential.
Jen from Travel + Trust & Wanderlust is one of these people. Two years ago, the universe threw us together in Bali, where I had been living and working at the Green School. We worked together on the leadership committee organizing Michael Franti’s Soulshine Festival.
In the Bali expat world of flaky entrepreneurs and airy new agers, Jen stood out as a doer, a practical and productive beacon of Getting Shit Done. I saw her running around capably attending to a thousand details at once. I heard her reflect on her work with passion and inspiration. I admired how she managed the egos of the crazy people we worked with. She always had a hug, a word of encouragement, an immediate email response.
We were in the same orbit for just a month, and my heart broke when Jen had to fly back to the US before getting to experience the beauty of our creation. I printed a photo of Jen and stuck her head on a stick to remind her that she was present at the festival, even if she was a world away.
True to its name, Soulshine was two days of pure bliss. Families, travelers, locals and expats came together on the Green School campus for music, art, sustainability workshops, and inspiring speakers.
A year and half has gone by since then. Jen and I have been watching each other out of the corner of our social media eyes, mutually impressed with where our lives have gone since we left Bali. I was inspired by the 100 day writing challenge that she took on – and completed – last year. She watched me trek the Himalayas. We pressed ‘Like’ often, and even exchanged a couple of messages.
And then out of the blue, Jen contacted me to set up a call. I wasn’t really sure why, but I looked forward to the opportunity to reconnect and throw some ideas around.
Late last night, she appeared on my screen, wearing a virtual hat from some ridiculous Google Hangouts app. The ice was not just broken, it fully melted in laughter as we both played with hats, moustaches, and trippy backgrounds. We talked past midnight, sharing our visions, discussing our strategies, supporting each other’s paths.
It was SO powerful.
This call allowed me to express and refine my ideas in a way that has not happened quite as authentically through my interactions with mentors, experts, or coaches. Talking to someone who is on the same level as me allowed me to put my ideas out there without intimidation, without trying to impress anyone, without fear of capitulating to someone else’s expert perspective.
On the other hand, there was a level of professionalism and focus that is not there when I share my business ideas with friends. There was a lot less, “I don’t know…we’ll see…” and a lot more action words and assertiveness.
I’ve had so many calls and coffee dates lately, and their value is immeasurable. These experiences have planted a seed. I am finding a way to combine the energy and inspiration that arises from these casual conversations into a format that also creates accountability, encourages reflection, and provides actionable goals.
Speaking of actionable goals, one of the last things Jen and I discussed last night was the value of writing as a daily practise. So here I go, Jen – Day 1, done.