I always used to wonder what it was about ‘road trips’ that made them so attractive. I hadn’t often found driving a long way with other people to be particularly enjoyable. Getting to where we wanted to go was always wonderful. The process of planning the trip was often exciting. Hours and hours in a car together was a mixed experience…depending on who the other person happened to be.
One of the most useful One-to-One meetings I have ever had though, turned out to be a road trip with my boss. I had only been at the company for a few weeks, and had only spoken to my new boss a few times on the telephone. And then all of a sudden we found ourselves together in a (very) small car driving together for six hours (or seven if you include the hour time zone change).
There was no one else. Just the two of us. Six weeks into my new job. Six hours together in a car. A little daunting in the planning phase…but in truth it was an amazing drive. We learned an immense about each other. I learned an immense amount about our company and our industry. I learned about our people, our business, our culture, our values and our partners.
We laughed a lot and sat quietly (occasionally). There were lots of flat fields, and what seemed like hundreds of wind turbines. But mostly we talked. And even now, some three years later, I still think back about some of those conversations. How much I learned. How much I realised I had to learn. How quickly the time went by. How much I like large cars for long journeys.
I may even go so far as to suggest a long road trip with your boss as part of any company induction program.
I thought of that road trip today. I have just got back from another road trip. Ten hours driving this time. No time zone changes, but one overnight stop. I took my daughter back to University – the start of the second semester. We set off Saturday and made it to Scotland mid-afternoon Sunday. We saw virtually no flat fields but a similarly large number of wind turbines. Unlike my ‘induction road trip’ which was in the late spring, this weekend’s mid-winter road trip involved howling gales and pouring rain.
But in truth it was an amazing drive. A wonderful weekend and a superb experience. I learned so much about my daughter. Or do I mean re-learned? I learned an immense amount about myself. I learned about my family. But most of all I learned about…and from…my daughter. We laughed a lot. But mostly we talked.
She is twenty one. Just. And in her third year at University. We keep in touch all the time when she is away by email and phone and text and face time. But it is not the same as when she was at home. She has grown up. She is so bright. And so beautiful. She knows so much. She does so much. She has amazing friends. She makes me think. She asked me questions. She told me stories.
And then she was gone. I drove back by myself. It was too quiet. I called my wife. I spoke with my son. I spoke with my dad. I called my wife again. I turned the music up. It was still too quiet. I stopped for coffee. I texted my daughter. She was happy. Birthday cake with her friends. Swapping stories and unpacking. I felt better. She is so good. I am so proud.
I like road trips.