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The 5 Business Lessons I Learned from a Hippie on a Jeep 4.8/5 (5)

Last week, I took some time away from my business in the mountains of Colorado. I visited Garden of the Gods, where I met a hippie doing yoga on the roof of his Jeep. With Zen music playing in the background, he was smoking…something.

“Surely,” I thought, “this person knows where I can find a great adventure.”

I asked him where the best views could be found for some quiet reflection and journaling, he directed me to a high mountain road. Following his slightly vague directions, I found the adventure I was looking for.

Along with adventure, I found a new perspective on my business, a new team member, and learned some interesting life lessons. Here are five business lessons I learned on Range Rampart Road:

Always Take the High Road

Normally, when we talk about the high road, it’s a moral metaphor. What I learned on the literal high road in the mountains of Colorado wasn’t about moral superiority, it was about perspective. From the high road, you’re able to see the big picture. Looking out over the mountain road, you can see where you’ve come from, where you’re going, and the valley below — all the places you could go. This perspective is not only awe-inspiring but also invaluable for CEOs. As CEOs, we are required to think strategically about the big picture while also being able to execute the day-to-day tasks required to keep our businesses running successfully.

No Turning Back.

When my hippie friend said it was a “short trip,” I never thought to check the gas gauge. By the time I realized I might be in trouble, I was too far gone to turn back. It was about that time I discovered I didn’t have cell service. I won’t lie, there were a few tense moments as visions of explaining to my always-prepared Marine husband how I ran out of gas on a mountainside flashed through my mind.

When I finally found myself on the other side of the mountain, in a quaint town, eating at an amazing Mexican restaurant, I was glad I followed the path all the way to its end. In business, when times get tough, it’s easy to wonder if we’re on the right path or if we should turn back for the safety of what is known. I choose to face these moments knowing that I can always go back to what is known, but I’d rather explore the unknown first. If, at the end of the trail, I find it isn’t for me, then, and only then, should I go back to the known path and try again.

No Turning Back — Rampart Range Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Listen to Others, but Follow Your Gut.

As I turned onto the remote path, the driver of a Ford Focus driving the opposite way told me the road was closed. I almost listened, and I would’ve missed out on an amazing adventure. It was a great lesson — what is right for one person may not be right for another. When advisors and mentors share their advice, always listen, but sometimes you have to remember that a road that is unpassable for a Ford focus is easy for a Jeep Wrangler and decide which you want to be in that moment.

Make Time for Stillness.

As I’ve listened to business experts, entrepreneurs, coaches, and other CEOs, I’ve learned one thing consistently: there will always be more on your to-do list than you can do in the time that you have. The key is accepting the fact that you will never complete your to-do list. The CEO’s job is to create a vision and mission, to set the strategy for an organization, and to empower his/her team to accomplish that mission. Your responsibility to your team is to care for yourself so that you are able to constantly evaluate the big picture and adjust as needed. Whether self-care means eating healthy, going to the gym daily, or taking regular retreats, you must find time to step away from tactical items and focus on strategy. This can be challenging for many of us, but we have to remember what our warriors know: if you focus solely on tactical matters, you can win many battles, but still lose the war.

Seeing the big picture in business is like looking over the valley at all the possible destinations.

Hippies Shouldn’t be the Only Ones Who Get to be ‘One with Nature.’

I’m grateful to my hippie friend for pointing me in the direction of the adventure I needed. I’m grateful to my friend, Brage, who recently told me to always choose adventure. I’m grateful for my team members, who encourage me to take time away to benefit our business. I don’t know the exact value that will come from this trip, and I’m not sure you ever do, but I know it’s there and am excited by what I discovered about myself and about Hire Served on this journey.

One with Nature – Author, Jean South taking time for stillness (and a selfie) on Rampart Range Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Don’t let the yoga-doing-hippies be the only ones taking the time to be one with nature. Talk to your team to determine the time and place that’s right for you to inject creativity, strategy, and rejuvenation into your business. It may be a week or it may be a day, but take the time for stillness and escape the day-to-day rat race to see what benefits it brings your organization.

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The Author

Jean South

Jean South

Jean is the CEO of Hire Served, a military talent recruiting and coaching firm. She is a Marine Spouse, the daughter of two Army Veterans, and a former FBI Special Agent. As an FBI Agent she focused on Russian Organized Crime. She transitioned out of Government service in 2014 and joined McChrystal Group, founded by General Stan McChrystal, where she was a consultant and recruiter. She founded Hire Served in 2016.

In her "spare" time, she is a Board member with Semper Fido, a non-profit which pairs veterans with PTSD and TBI with service dogs, and a volunteer with The Weekly Fight, an organization dedicated to bringing attention to the high rate of suicides in the veteran community.