Posted: 31-Dec-2014 Category: Inspiration, Leadership
It is that time of the year. An old one is passing and a new one is about to start. 2015 can be the best year of your life. Even though I am a believer in letting life put in front of you what it needs to, I also know the importance of starting a year with focused intent.
Bear with me as I jump around sharing my scattered thoughts about my trip back to Nicaragua, my experience, the 5 people I met, and how I will let them shape my 2015. In the process, I hope it helps you look at your 2015 from a different perspective.
I spent much of my time working alongside some incredible people. We fed kids in schools, cooked for and fed an entire neighbourhood of people who live in the garbage dumps, and helped deliver the first fire truck to Corn Island!
Throw in a little yoga and the chance to get back on the surfboard and you’ve got an amazing experience.
Someone asked me what was the most important thing I took away from this trip. My mind instantly gravitated to a specific group of people I met. I met them all at one of the most amazing camps I have been to, Monty’s Surf Camp ran by Gerry Caceres and Don (Monty) Montgomery. Each of these people I met capsulated what I believe the essence of leadership is.
Now for all my scattered thoughts.
The faces on those kids when we brought them all hotdogs during lunch was amazing. While feeding the kids hotdogs, I was struck by how happy and appreciative they were and that got me thinking about how we’ve forgotten to appreciate the simple things in our lives.
Not one of them complained about a thing and I felt so much respect for these young kids. What a great example of being happy with what we have.
In 2015 I will be focusing more on the little things that matter in life. And not lose those gifts that people give us by focusing on what we do not have.
We spent time with some beautiful people who live in the garbage dumps. They survive by building homes and eating what they can find there. Most people reading this might find this disturbing and yet this ‘neighbourhood’ is filled with people who are so happy with what they have.
In this day and age of wanting more it seems most of us have lost sight of this precious gift – the ability to be truly happy with our lives. We’re always chasing more, wanting more and, in turn, losing sight of the treasures we have right in front of us.
Being with these happy people reminded me that if you cannot be happy with what you have, you can never be happy with what you want more of.
In 2015 I am going to focus on the people I have in my life. Connect with them, play with them, smile with them and love with them.
Doing yoga with the kids reminded me of how important it is to truly just enjoy the moment and not worry about always trying to be better, hold a pose longer, stretch out further… It is quite wonderful to just simply have fun, laugh and enjoy the moment.
(Yes that is me – what you do not see is the next second when I fall on my face in the sand)
Those that have ever taken a yoga class with Tara Greer will have experienced how she instills fun in the moment for every pose and life. If you are ever considering doing a yoga retreat, highly recommend you connect with her.
Tara, thanks for letting me help with the kids – it truly reminded me of what Yoga is all about. And more importantly of reminding me to simply just play and have fun.
In 2015, I will focus more on being true to myself, how I feel at the moment, and smiling and laughing my way through it all.
Now for the lessons I learned from these 5 incredible people.
On this trip I met a group of people who collectively reminded me what it means to be alive; what it means to make a difference in this world, and what it means to be a true leader.
Leadership Lesson #1 – Truly Care for those that cross your path
David Sakaki, one of the most amazing people I have had the pleasure of meeting in a long time. David Sakaki runs Operation Nicaragua. Here is a fellow who focused on the little things, truly cared as he did things that no one would ever even know about.
I left my cabin key on a hanging sign as we were running late for our boat. 3 sec. later he asked us to continue, as he ran back in the storm to grab the key and drop it off at a location where he knew for sure the care-takers would see it. His modesty shone through as he genuinely cared – not because of what people would say or think of him.
And the most important thing David reminded me about was the secret behind happiness. It was simple - he was always happy and smiling no matter what! ☺
Why is that? He always went out of his way to take care of people and put a smile on their face.
You can’t help but be happy when you’re making a difference to everyone who crosses your path.
One of the most powerful leadership traits you can have is to simply care about people. David reminded me of the importance of caring for even those who will never know they were cared for by you. That to me is one of the most powerful and respected leadership traits one can have.
Leadership Lesson #2 – Respond to unexpected situations with calmness and a smile
Sona Esmaili (David Sakaki calls her Iranian Princess). Not only for her external beauty, but more so for the elegance in how she lives her life.
This picture was taken shortly after a 16 hour barge ride through a storm when delivering the fire truck to Corn Island. Still smiling and happy even though an unexpected storm came into the plans.
I found it incredible to watch how she never let any situation or circumstance bother her or impact her mood – simply readjusted and kept moving forward.
There were so many situations that most people would have let ruin their entire trip but to her they were all part of the adventure and she welcomed them like she welcomes life - to the fullest.
Even after 16 hours on the barge to deliver the fire truck to Corn Island, Sona was still smiling. Despite being cold and soaking wet from a storm that doused her and having had no sleep, I never heard her complain about anything.
Anyone can plan for situations and possible outcomes, but true leadership to me is part of your character - how an individual responds to situations unexpected.
Leadership Lesson #3 – Love people for who they are
I feel in love with Andy Evans and Megan Evans the minute we met. How they loved each other, cared for each other and enjoyed each other for who they are within that relationship, is precious.
It was my pleasure to spend time with this most beautiful couple. They reminded me of what it means to be connected. Simply loving each other for who we are and in turn letting our true essence shine.
Andy, my selfie (photos) buddy, loves life and lives it to the fullest. He danced and sang when he wanted to and Megan always smiled, watching him be him. In relationships, we need to love each other for who they are instead of always trying to change them to who we think they should be.
Look at those around you, in your personal and professional lives. What are the parts of them that make them unique? Once you’ve got those parts identified, start loving them for those things. Instead of always focusing on the things we would like to change about them.
Leadership Lesson #4 - Just Be Yourself
Every employee I met at Monty’s Surf Camp were absolutely incredible. I cannot remember the last time I had experienced such service. That being said, there was one that stood out in everyone’s experience - Carlos, AKA Tyra Banks.
I have never met anyone that understood the essence of customer service like Tyra. Everyone who crosses paths with Tyra, no matter what age, gender, race or personality, can’t help but smile, laugh and have their hearts filled with joy.
Tyra does all the things a text book tells you to do in order to give the best customer service possible. But there is something more - something that gives life to all of it. He is one of the most authentic people I have ever met.
In a world where everyone is trying to be something they are not in order to be accepted and loved, Tyra stands out. He is who he is - he has nothing to hide and no mask to wear.
What Tyra reminded me of is the best way to connect to others and leave a lasting impression in their hearts is to simply just be you.
Leadership Lesson #5 – Let Passion Run Through Your Veins
When you meet Gerry Caceres, you know in an instant that there is no other Gerry out there in this world. There are some things in life you simply just have to experience, Gerry Caceres is one of them.
Gerry is part owner and runs Monty’s Surf Camp. But he is more then that, he truly makes a difference in the lives of many communities in Nicaragua through all his Volunteer and charity projects.
You don’t have to agree with what he says or does, but you will still gravitate towards him.
He reminded me that passion is not only connected to an outcome.
Gerry is passionate when he describes a tree or a leaf floating through the air or his life stories and experiences. That is what having passion for your life does – and it’s contagious!
Most people talk about their passions and what they want to do and what they will one day do. Gerry truly reminded me of how important it is to follow through with your passion - live it, chase it, and not worry about the outcome. More importantly, do not worry about what others think.
Oh, and one more thing. This boy can dance like no other.
Passion is one of the most power characteristics you can have. Any outcome that comes from passion is an outcome that will change your life.
So, along with making some life-long connections, some of the basic lessons in leadership were reinforced for me on this trip to Nicaragua. Leadership is not about what you say, or think you are going to do; it’s about how you live your life each and every day. True leaders are consistent in the way they live, in any and every situation.
How you do anything is a reflection of how you do everything.
As you go into your 2015, take the time to create your year with intent. That simply means, take the time for the following:
Lesson #1 – Truly care
Lesson #2 – Face all situations with calmness and a smile
Lesson #3 – Love people for who they are
Lesson #4 – Be yourself
Lesson # 5 – Let passion run through your veins
One of the best ways to achieve your goals is to talk about them, share them, make them part of who you are.
So please take the time to share yours below what your 2015 is for you.
Let this be your year