I was in the mid-west of the USA last week. Indianapolis and Madison to be more precise. Or to be more accurate…Chicago O’Hare airport…at least that is what it felt like. I flew in or out of O’Hare six times in four days – and every time I was delayed. By at least an hour. Weather. Number of flights. Not enough crew. One or the other, and once all three at the same time.
If you need advice about coffee, shopping, food, airline help desks at O’Hare – I am your man. Unfortunately.
It was my son’s birthday on Wednesday. I was in the mid-west of the USA. He was at home. Best I could do was to call him on FaceTime. He wasn’t interested in O’Hare airport. I heard about his day…gifts, lunch, cake. And how excited he was about driving lessons as his 17th birthday present (17 is the legal age to start driving in the UK).
No matter how good my meetings are when I am away, it is just hard to be away when events happen at home. It’s hard for me and it’s hard for my family. Sometimes its events like birthdays, and sometimes it’s just everyday stuff. Stuff that is simple to help with, or special to be part of, when you are present. Impossible when you are not.
My meetings were good. We were reviewing our talent – always great substrate for a great discussion. In truth, the meeting was very good throughout and excellent in parts. We blasted past my meeting criteria. My criteria are simple to state but hard to achieve. I want ideas that would not have appeared anywhere else.
Such ideas or opportunities are immediately apparent and such ideas immediately make any meeting worthwhile. They can appear at any time, but they require people, discussions, information and time. It is not essential for the meeting to be face-to-face. Although this helps, it also raises the (return on investment) stakes since many attendees will have invested time to travel as well as time to attend.
The beauty is that when it happens you know it immediately. Someone says or suggests something – and often you cannot remember who it was – and my mind sparks. It jumps to a totally different place…a different mind-set. How I view, or interpret, a specific situation changes from where it was when I arrived. My energy level soars. My engagement surges. I often have to stand up and walk about.
Such moments come from teams. It is never precise who said what…or exactly when. But it does not matter. What matters is that it happened. It happened at that time and in that place. Value is created. Options are revealed. New futures are fashioned. Such moments are a reflection of a team…and of the investment in the team by the leader and members. Such moment appear because of team debate, discussion and often from team disagreement.
I was still excited after I left. In fact I was excited when sitting in coffee shops and restaurants at O’Hare. There was no-one to talk to about why I was excited. I tried – I couldn’t help myself – to explain to the Airline help desk, but soon realised that the ‘how was your week’ question was more good training than it was real interest.
I reflected as I sat. This wasn’t the only new idea I arrived home with. It was just the biggest from my meetings. It wasn’t my idea. I wondered if I had helped others as much as they had helped me. I hoped.
I arrived home and I immediately started to plan…driving lessons.