As a kid my grandparents took me across the country multiple times camping. I got to experience and see some of the Nation’s historic (Mt. Rushmore) and God’s (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone) creations before I was 12 years old. I still remember those long days by car and my grandfather telling me stories about his childhood. Those experiences have meant so much to me, I have always wanted to create that experience for my family. Except their mother isn’t really the camping type. She is a “glamper” at best.
Now, I love baseball. I have almost 40 years of playing and coaching baseball memories that are ready to be shared at the drop of a hat. My wife has been with me for more than half of those years and loves the game as well. So we decided as a travel goal we would visit every Major League Baseball stadium. This past week we traveled to Toronto to see the Blue Jays versus the New York Yankees. I’ve been a Yankee fan since I was a kid and my son, well he basically roots for any rival of my favorite teams. My daughter, who is eleven now, has fallen in love with ice hockey. Toronto is also the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame, so we added it to our list. Finally, as we thought about how we could really maximize this trip we booked our flight into Buffalo so we could drive across the border and see Niagara Falls on the way.
So off we went, the four of us, spending the next 96 consecutive hours side by side by car, bus, plane and foot but no barrels over the falls. We saw walk off home runs, we saw the Stanley Cup and learned about 100 years of hockey, we took selfies in front of Niagara Falls. I am not sure what memories will come from that trip, but I am sure it will be something small like my son being rescued from the airplane bathroom or my daughter ordering a special poutine breakfast. There were highs, and there were lows. I cherish them all because it’s the time you spend with the people you care about most that are going to create memories.
As a school leader or business owner, you spend a good portion of your day, some days half, with your team and staff. What memories are you creating? Now I am not saying that every weekend you have to travel or spend countless hours together as a team or family but to win with people through creating memories, it does take a little effort.
Initiative - Make Something Happen: Memories don't find us - we find them. When you are intentional, you can make memories. Find a way to get your team or family to experience something outside of the daily routine. Visit another school, take a different walking route. Whatever it is, leaders take the initiative to make something happen!
Time - Set Aside Time to Make Something Happen: There is a great debate between quantity and quality. As a father and business owner I have found that I cannot have quality without quantity so as a couple my wife and I map out the year and block of six weeks for family experiences and travel opportunities. As a business owner this is challenging but critical to achieving my overall goals as a spouse and father. If you don’t schedule what’s most important first, you’ll constantly be on someone else’s agenda.
Planning - Plan For Something to Happen: Most people don’t lead their lives they accept their lives. It doesn’t mean that every weekend needs to be planned out to the minute but my mentor Paul Martinelli once shared, “If you are overwhelmed, you are under-purposed.” So, at minimum be really clear of how you want to spend your time and who you want to spend it with. Otherwise you are living by default, not design.
Creativity - Find a Way To Make Something Happen: When we were in Toronto we did a great deal of walking. The kids were constantly complaining that they just wanted to go back to the hotel for some tablet time. I happened to notice a store Canadian Tire and led everyone in. WOW! What an experience. When I say they have everything, they had everything. We spent two hours in the store playing hockey in the isles and checking out the latest camping gear. Who would’ve thought that Canada had over 30 types of candy bars, we left with a sample box of each.
Shared Experiences - Make Something Happen Together: Memories compound when you share them with someone you love. When you spend four days traveling in a foreign country you experience lots together and create experiences together. As I mentioned we went to many tourist attractions but stopping for dinner together at an A & W diner, and sharing four root beers and burgers will always be something we will have together.
Momentos - Show that Something Happened: Almost everything you do daily will be forgotten in a matter of weeks. We have things we love not because they have material value but because they remind us of places we’ve been and things we have experienced. Oddly, of all of the opportunities we had to purchase souvenirs it just happened to be Zombie Night at the ballpark and each of us received a Frankenstein zombie bobblehead in a Blue Jays uniform bobblehead doll. When we got home it was the first thing my children asked to make sure made it back with us! Take pictures and store them where they will come up in the future (Facebook memories or rotating digital picture frames).
If you’ve read any of my blogs or attended trainings I share that one of my greatest challenges is staying still. Sometimes I feel a little guilty when I don’t have anything planned for the day. I have realized that FOMO is real, and a dangerous place to live. Take each day one at a time, and live it to the fullest with those that matter most. As one of my mentors Budd Dingwall used to share, “Tom, the to-do list, the school and the kids will be there tomorrow. But you might not.”
Those are wise words that we all need to remember each day. Take care of you first so you can make a memory that lasts multiple lifetimes!
To apply this lesson into your life…
Trying to have quality time to make a memory if aren’t willing to invest the quantity of time it requires.
What memories have I already created with people in my life that we need to relive together?
Plan an experience that will commemorate an achievement or milestone that people will talk about years from now. And don’t forget to create a memento of it.
We shouldn’t wait for memories to happen to us. We need to make memories happen.
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