I am on a trip with a bunch of foodies, touring Scotland and Ireland for 17 days. Our plan is to learn about these countries through sightseeing, local cuisine, whiskey, wines and enjoying the company of the group and locals. I was (and still am) excited about this trip and the chance to experience new things and meet new people. Most of all, I am excited to spend 17 days away from my daily life for the first time ever. I love to travel and have always been in awe of people who are able to get away for long periods of time on a regular basis and forget about their daily routines. I’m with a group of people I haven’t met before, but am looking forward to getting to know each of them. For context, I am the youngest in the tour by almost a decade; everyone in the group is in their 60’s or 70’s. The varying backgrounds, interests and generations travelling with me has led to interesting, thought-provoking conversation. As early as our first group dinner, one of the gentlemen in the group during a conversation stated that he was “a product of his time”. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I think this is a very strange statement. It seems to imply that we are who we are simply because of the times we grew up in. It also suggests that we do not change. I don’t see how that is possible. How could we not be impacted by personal experiences and the world around us? And if we aren’t, what does that really say about us? How do we grow? I believe that while at our core we mostly remain the same, we continuously evolve through our experiences and what we learn from them. Our personalities change slowly and subtly over time by our relationships and the world around us. If you think about it, we each carry some traits from our youth into each succeeding decade, but none of us are the same as we were at 10, 20 or even 30. We are all (hopefully) better versions of ourselves. I hope that my new friend who commented that he was a “product of his time” is referring to the core values instilled in him as a child, and not his evolution as an individual. After all, there have been a lot of changes since the 50’s! If he didn’t change, he wouldn’t be as successful as he is today.
So, where am I going with this? Folks in my generation (and a few before it) are often tagged as workaholics, myself included. It’s how we were brought up; in fact, you could say it’s a “product of our time” 😊. Several years ago, one of my direct reports commented that I needed to understand that not everything was about work. He viewed me as a workaholic. He was right, I was a workaholic. I still am.
I work differently now than I did then. Here I am on vacation in Scotland writing my FFfT. I am also emailing, organizing meetings, and answering questions. To an outsider, it might appear that for me, everything is about work and I cannot turn off. But here is the difference, I am in Scotland for 17 days! I’ve found a way to relax and enjoy myself without feeling stress from being away and without feeling obligated to work constantly. I’ve evolved and learned that I can blend the two. I am enjoying myself; I have plenty of downtime and I choose to work during long bus rides or breaks when most are napping. It seems my new friend and I are both right. We are all a product of our own times in some ways. I know I am, but I am changing, hopefully for the better!
“Life is a progress, and not a station.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
How have you changed over the years? Let me know!
Have a great weekend.