Recently, I traveled to Tulum, Mexico and visited Sian Ka’an, a 1.3 million-acre biosphere reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The trek to find the reserve involved a multi-day effort, and several hours on undoubtedly the worst “road” I have been on in my entire life—including roads I traveled on while on safaris in Africa. You’d think at 1,219 square miles, the reserve would have been pretty easy to find with at least modest ingress and egress—you’d think.
After many hours of driving and coming upon several amazing – if inaccurate – examples of signage, we were at a loss as to the exact location of the reserve’s visitors center. As seasoned world travelers, my travel companions and I refused to give up. Finally, late in the afternoon, we inquired with a tour agency who assured us they could take us right to the reserve! (Sigh…I know. What tech-savvy, seasoned world traveler stoops to seeking information from a tour guide?)
Fast forward $100 and 24 hours later and we were happily moving along in an aluminum boat in the heart of the reserve. It was in one of those wonderfully picturesque and inspiring quiet moments where you can’t help but be captivated by the beautiful aquamarine-colored water. My pseudo-reflective moment was abruptly interrupted by our guide Alejandro when, while positioned at the boat’s bow with outstretched arms, he exclaims:
“I have no money, but I am rich!”
A Different Lens
I’ve heard this kind of proclamation before, having traveled to similar locations in Asia and Africa in my late 20s and early 30s. Now, nearing the end of my 40s, I understand life quite differently than this well-intentioned, highly content man at the boat’s bow.
After two decades in the engineering and environmental industries, I am quite skillful in stretching resources, working to find the middle ground, and of course, compromise. But now, I view life through a different lens.
The Turning Point
During my year-long coaches training program, the question: Where is the “both-and?” was posed relentlessly by the trainers to class participants. And, in the end—that relentlessness proved to create an amazing shift in how I view life and approach creating the results I want.
The “both-and” concept is best described as the opposite of “either-or.” The “both-and” is grounded in the belief that we can simultaneously have two, three or even more things in our life that we value beyond measure. Both this AND that. For instance, one can be “rich” AND have “money.” Our society often operates from an either-or paradigm. You can have either quality of life, or lots of financial freedom. Or, how many of us have said: You can have it fast, cheap, or good—choose two? This kind of either-or thinking is a paradigm with a foundation in limitations—rather than in expanding resources and possibilities.
Alejandro used to work in pharmaceutical sales. He said he had money back then, but traveled three weeks out of the month. Now, he has his dream job and makes the 4-hour drive home every couple of weeks to visit his children for the weekend. Where’s his”both-and?”
I worked for many years in engineering and environmental consulting. I also worked for several years in a more soft-sided non-profit. I had an either-or kind of career. My vision for Emerald Quest Coaching is that it is an expression of both intelligence and intuition—that our coaches and our work is an inspiration to those we serve. It is MY “both-and.”
Where’s your “both-and?”