Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Traveling expectantly…for business

by Steve Brock on November 2, 2010

Veiw from airplane window

When you leave on a business trip, you never know what to expect. And that can be a good thing...

Previously, we looked at the idea of traveling expectantly and differentiated it from traveling with expectations. The idea of traveling expectantly may strike you as viable on a vacation where you have more free time and an open itinerary. But what about more structured trips such as business travel? Can you travel expectantly for work?

Yes you can, but your mileage may vary. Sometimes, traveling expectantly for business is like pulling on a sock over a damp foot: slow going with fits and starts and only somewhat satisfying once you’re done. Other times, the restrictions imposed by business travel – appointments, tight connections, limited or no free time – actually help you to travel more expectantly. They prevent you from forming expectations so that you’re more open to any surprises that God brings your way.

To illustrate how to travel expectantly, let me do an experiment on your behalf (and mine). I have a trip coming up next month to San Antonio, Texas. I’ve always wanted to visit there but have never made it past Austin. So how can I travel expectantly on that business trip? Here are some questions I’ll be asking myself both before and during the trip:

  • Will I have any free time? Doubtful. I arrive at 6:30 p.m., go immediately to a client dinner, then start meetings at 8:00 a.m. the next morning that go straight through until I leave for the airport at 6:00 p.m. But can I take time after dinner or before the morning meetings to wander around? Maybe. But I will go expecting (you can’t completely escape expectations) that I will have no free time. Thus, if I do, that will be a pleasant surprise. 
  •  Do I know what to look for there? No. I’ve seen pictures of the River Walk, but that’s about it. Thus, I have no expectations of what I should see. This actually frees me to pay attention to what I do see, rather than worrying about looking for something else.  
  •  How can I be present? I’ll rightfully be concentrating on my client meetings and what I’ll say and do. I’m there for business, so my client deserves my best and my full attention to the work. But in the meetings themselves and in the breaks or travel times, how can I listen better? How can I pay attention to people and new sights, sounds, smells and tastes? 
  •  How can I bless others? Ultimately, we find our greatest meaning in sharing in the lives of others. How can I bless the woman at the rental car desk? The receptionist at the client’s office? The server at our dinner? My clients? The people next to me on the multiple flights it takes to get there and back? 
  •  In short, how can I stay open, even on a business trip, to God’s leading? How can I see him in every encounter or new experience? I won’t have the time for any typical tourist activities. But it doesn’t mean that this trip can’t be meaningful.

I will let you know next month how well I was able to travel expectantly on this trip. I don’t know how it will go.

But that’s exactly how it should be when we travel expectantly.

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