One Extremely Important Lesson

Vacations are great, aren’t they?

It’s a great time to relax, reconnect with friends and family and enjoy the moment.  The week before last I was in the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.  I was there with Trisha, my brother and a few of our friends.  We had such a blast.  I love vacations.

I’ve enjoyed vacations in the past, but this one was extra special.  It was extra special because I learned an extremely important lesson.

What I learned in Mexico

Before we left for our vacation I was working on a few different projects.  And when I work on these projects I’m focused on results.  I put a lot of energy and attention on setting targets and achieving goals.

To an outsider it appears that things are great – and for the most part they are, but there are those times when I’ve got this emptiness inside.  It makes me feel uneasy and unfulfilled.  It’s like there is no feeling of purpose for what I’m doing.  It’s like why should I even bother?

Then one night in Mexico it became very clear to me.  Trisha and I were walking back to our room and I said,

Steve: “You know honey, I realized something this week.”

Trisha: “What’s that?”

Steve: “People are more important than results.”

Trisha: “Well yeah, but what do you mean?”

Steve: “Well, I think there are times when it seems to me that results are more important than people, but I realized that’s not the case.  Results are important, but only secondary to people.  Relationships come first.”

That Uneasy Feeling and Relationships

Earlier that night a group of us went to dinner at the local Steakhouse.  The restaurant had a reservation for six.  My brother and his wife just flew in the day of and were joining us last minute for dinner.  We got into the lobby of the Steakhouse and the place was jam packed.

I spoke with the host that was busy arranging seating.  Here was our conversation:

Steve: “Hi.  I’m Steve and you are … ?  It’s really nice to meet you.  I was wondering if you could help us out.  You see, we have a reservation for 6 but my brother and his wife just flew in today and I was hoping to have dinner with them.”

Host: “Sir, it’s very busy here as you can see.  We have a reservation of two tables for 6 people.  An 8 person reservation would mean adding two more tables.  I don’t think we have the room to accommodate your group.

Steve: “I understand.  Well, like I said my brother just flew in and I would really love to eat dinner with him and his wife.  I’m just wondering if it would be possible to arrange seating for eight?  I’m just asking if it’s possible?”

Host: “Ok.  One minute sir.  I’ll see what I can do.”

One Extremely Important Lesson

Five minutes later he looked over with a smile.  We had our reservation for eight.  I went over and shook his hand to personally thank him.

What did I learn?

People and relationships always come first.  Results are a distant second.

You see, prior to Mexico, I had my priorities reversed.  Here’s how it looked with Trisha and I:

I had results first.  I was relating to Trisha as results.  And since I was doing that, I had created this barrier between us, which made me feel empty inside.

Then we went on vacation and my priorities changed.  I tore down the barrier and began to focus on people, relationships and creating connection.

I started relating to Trisha and others.  I started listening to people, to really become interested in others.  I began treating people like people, instead of like results.

When my priorities changed so did my relationships.  I started to get that feeling again of connection, compassion and fulfillment.  The funny thing is that the results still showed up.

This is what happened at the Steakhouse restaurant.

I focused on connecting with the host.  I got related to him by introducing myself first.  I was polite, courteous and compassionate.  I was interested in what he had to say and I listened to him.  I acknowledged him when he had finished speaking.  I treated him the way I would have wanted to be treated.

I didn’t force him to find us a table.  I asked if it was “possible.”

I treated him like a human being.  An easy thing to do, but so many of us forget to do it.


  • Libby

    Reply Reply April 14, 2009

    Hi Steve, The relationships distinction you make is captivating. As a result, I am asking the question: Am I living in my family and treating my five children as results or prioritizing our relationships foremost. It is easy to slip into a results focus when getting projects over the line. Thanks for your reflection. Libby

  • Steve

    Reply Reply April 14, 2009

    It’s my pleasure.

    Yeah, no doubt Libby – it can be tricky.

    I guess one way to look at is by reaching for a new experience. When I focus my attention on people, relationships and making connections, I feel it in my heart. On the other hand when I’m results focused, I get a tingle sensation in my head. The feeling or your experience tells you where your focus is.

    Thanks Maren.

  • Maren

    Reply Reply April 14, 2009

    Thanks Steve,
    I believe that things happen right then when it is best for me and in this case the right thing to happen was me to read your entry.
    I just wanted to leave this note to thank you for writing it.
    Keep up the great work, Maren

  • Libby

    Reply Reply April 14, 2009

    I agree Steve, the juggle is getting the tingle balanced with the heart and recognizing the feeling of being out of sinchronicity and doing something about it to change focus. Libby

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