Finding Your Central Park
Last week I took advantage of Holiday and took my family on a quick vacation to unwind. My wife, three kids, my parents and I went to New York City for a couple of days. It was the first time the kids experienced the magnificence of the big apple and it was great to re-live NYC through their eyes.
If it was just my wife and I we would probably had stayed somewhere outside the tourist hangouts because we would skip the typical sightseeing fare and enjoy New York for the things we love, restaurants, good shows, night life etc. However, since the kids were seeing the city for the first time we HAD to give them a taste of all the great attractions in NY. We went to the Museum of Natural History, went on the Staten Island Ferry to see the skyline and Statue of Liberty, attended a Broadway show, and saw the sunset at the Top of Rockefeller Center. We ate pizza and Junior’s cheesecake and had a grand ole time.
Now, because we wanted to be centrally located, we decided to get a hotel in Times Square. 48th street between Broadway and 8th Ave. to be exact. It was walking distance from Rockefeller Plaza and from all the Broadway Shows. Seemed like a great plan at the time. Here is the actual experience. In order to get to anything, we needed to go through Times Square. The busiest place on earth.
When I say that Times Square is busy, it is busy everywhere and in every way. There is an overload of stimuli from every which way. There are electronic billboards all around promoting the latest play, TV show or movie. In our case there was a 30 foot Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on a skyscraper promoting, you guessed it, the movie “Skyscraper”! There are also tons of people. Everywhere. Tourists, street performers, New Yorkers, street vendors, food carts, people dressed as Batman and Mickey Mouse hoping to get you to take a picture with them. It is smorgasbord of sights and sounds that can easily overwhelm you. Especially when you are trying to keep track of the three kids under 10 that you decided to bring along.
As I was experiencing going through Times Square, I could not help to correlate the feelings I was having to the ones I often have as a professional and small business owner. At work, there are certainly times when you can feel like you are in the middle of Times Square. There are multiple priorities to juggle, e-mails with different requests coming in at the same time, you have business trips to attend, all while having to deliver on a project or two. Your clients are going through crises, and so are your employees. There is so much to deal with that you can get overwhelmed and a little lost in the grandness of it all.
In New York there is a place where you can escape the craziness of the city. It is called Central Park. 843 acres of peace and mindfulness in the middle of the busiest city in the world. You can go for a run, or a bike ride, or you could rent a rowboat at the Boathouse. We took the kids there and it completely changed our trip. The kids played mindlessly and climbed rocks with beautiful views of the city surrounding us. We ate ice cream and just sat a while. It was an amazing experience. After all of us were feeling a little depleted from the energy spent trying to take everything in, it was magical to be able to regroup and see what was most important. Going to Central Park recharged us and made the trip so much more enjoyable. It gave us what we needed to keep going and to continue to appreciate the city. I wonder what would be of New York if there was no Central Park. If there was no place where you could go to get centered. To get away.
In our professional lives, it is important for us to find OUR Central Park. The place, or activity we can do to get away for it all. To put things into perspective. The one thing that will recharge our batteries and give us strength to keep going.
I have been asked by a colleague to be part of a panel on August 1st (invitation here) to discuss the importance of having a Happy Place. In NY my happy place was Central Park. In life, my Happy Place is live music. Nothing can get me going like attending a general admission concert. If it is a band I am deeply familiar with even better. Just being in a crowd of people, listening and signing along to music changes everything for me. That is why I make it a priority to not get too caught up that I can’t attend a show. It does more for me than just entertainment. It centers me and allows me to get focused once it is all done.
As you go along your personal and professional life, make sure to identify what YOUR Central Park is. Whether it is going for a run, meditating, going to concerts, or spending time with your family, what is the one thing that allows you to disconnect from your anxieties for a moment and allows you to refocus so that you can keep going? Once you find out what it is, make it a priority. Our happy place should be non-negotiable because it allows us to operate at a much higher state.
Love you NYC. Especially you Central Park.
Andre Mello is a Certified Business Coach and might think of himself an unofficial New Yorker. He has been in marketing and leadership for over 17 years. If you would like to connect with Andre please visit www.wysecoaching.com