I got married 12 years ago. We honeymooned on the French island of Saint Barths, officially called Saint-Barthélemy, 35 kilometers southeast of St. Martin and north of St. Kitts – tucked away in the West Indies. Women dream of planning their wedding day. Men think about the honeymoon. Or at least I did.
When we checked into our boutique hotel, our oceanfront room could not have been more perfect. If I have stayed in 3,000 hotel rooms in my lifetime, this was by far the nicest. Rose petals on the floor. Champagne. Island music playing. Doors open so you could hear the waves crashing. Jill was in heaven.
Within minutes I told my bride I would be right back. I had something to do.
I went to the front desk and asked the French woman if she could help me plan our week. And for the next hour we planned the honeymoon of the century. Swimming with the dolphins. Four-wheel driving. Horseback riding on the beach. Sunset cruise. Seven dinners at the best restaurants on the island. Massages at the spa. Whatever this woman said was special, I booked it. I wanted only the best for Jill.
When I got back to our honeymoon suite, Jill was laying down in the exact spot I left her an hour before. And for the next fifteen minutes I proudly shared with her the rundown of our week. Day by day. Every minute and detail of all the wonderful activities, adventures, meals and excursions.
My wife listened to every word. And at the end of my “activities briefing” she said in her sweet and soft voice, “Obviously, you’ve never been on a honeymoon before! I want you to go back to wherever you made all these plans and CANCEL everything!”
I was dumbfounded. In shock. “Everything,” I exclaimed?
“Yes, Everything,” Jill replied.
So, I went back to the front desk, embarrassed and confused, and watched as the poor woman cancelled everything we just booked minutes before.
I told that story last night at my wife’s 50th birthday dinner. I shared with our family and closest friends that it was that moment I learned what my wife is all about: Quality over Quantity. Less is More.
I had chased quantity my entire life. Always trying to fit twenty-six hours into a twenty-four hour day. Always wanting more. More success. More things. More on the resume. More things to do. More, more, more.
Jill changed my life, starting on that honeymoon. I’m embarrassed to admit, I’d never woken up before without a plan. Without something to do. Without something to achieve. And those seven days on St. Barths were life changing. Having days unfold, rather than be planned. Controlling the calendar, rather the calendar controlling me. I had never experienced anything like it.
I’ve been coaching leaders for over a decade. I work with over a hundred different companies a year. And I’m seeing the same thing over and over. Quantity over Quality. More. Busy. Over-committed. Over-scheduled.
What would it look like if we all, as leaders, slowed down. Listened and laughed with the people that choose to follow us? Not having every minute of our work day planned, booked and scheduled? What if we spent time walking down the hallways of our office truly connecting with our people? Or how about calling a customer on the phone just to say hello (and wanting nothing in return)?
How would that affect our cultures? Our bottom lines? I have a hunch that we would see astounding results. And you don’t have to travel to St. Barths to figure it out. You just have to stop chasing quantity and start living, leading and loving quality – one day and one person at a time.