At The Quad, we have folks commuting a significant distance to come and train with us (when our physical centres were open, obviously.) Spending 30-45 minutes each way is insane to me. But that's just my preferences speaking i.e. I am not a fan of driving and I prefer to be within a mile or thereabouts of places I frequent. Initially, I was flattered that folks would choose to make such a choice and not just invest the time and money to train but to go through significant pains to get to it.
These people must be bonkers though, to drive so much.
but then, so was I
Then, I realised that I do the same thing as well when something really matters to me. For example, I moved from the Mission to the Presidio to be closer to my gym, cutting down a 3.5-mile commute through the city into a drive through a national park.
They are coming in to train because they connect with us, with our values. Something deeply resonates with them about training and being a part of our community. And when that happens, you go to significant lengths because a deeper yearning is fulfilled.
the wrong lens
But I kept thinking about this entire situation wrong. I would keep thinking "I'd never do that." And while that did not affect my coaching adversely, it just showed my narrow lens of thought and framing. All of us have our quirks and prejudices and likes and dislikes, which have very little to do with common sense. Just because I wouldn't do something does not mean anything except I wouldn't do it.
Initially, I was a bit flattered as well that folks would commute this much. And then I realised I was missing the point.
Truly believing and knowing that we are the best solution out there, especially as we connect on our values, I dismissed this without adequate thought. And missed out on a valuable lesson.
not always about efficiency
In my head, I was thinking "efficiency". To train for one hour, someone was spending 1.5 hours in their commute. When you look at it with my aversion for driving, it makes no sense. When you look at it as time being a valuable commodity today, it makes no sense.
Not everything is about efficiency. Sometimes, the shortest path is not the literal shortest path - and I already know this. The fastest path is also not the shortest path.
In this generation, most of us are time-poor. In our quest for meaning and purpose, we are all constantly trying to figure out what to do with our time, as there never seems to be enough of it.
To the couple that train with me who also happen to be startup founders, the commute is when they get to de-stress and talk about their day and their lives. Because in the growth phase their startup is at, it is all go-go-g0 once they switch to work-mode. That commute is an important part of their day. The hour they train with me is the only part of their day that is solely about them.
As soon as I understood this, my previous blinkers went away. Every student that I have had this conversation with about their commute, I suddenly connected with their intent a bit deeper. While I do not know all their stories, I now know all of them to have a story. Just like you and me.
Your commute might be the time you get to de-stress. To switch from your work mode to family mode. Or to listen to your favourite music. Or to a podcast that helps you grow. Or a million other things that I would not know.
And the commute is just one thing.
updating my 'note to self'
One of the first principles in coaching, I think, is to ensure you do not pass on your prejudices to your student. I've always been conscious about this and actively introspect and investigate this aspect.
But this taught me that maybe every prejudice and preconceived notion of mine might be affecting how I view things, coach people, and approach conversations.
As part of this generation where time is a scarce commodity, I've always tried to protect my time. But I learned something about myself 2 years ago - I thrive with a lot of slack in my system. When I cram things up, sensibly and efficiently and whatnot, I feel drained and my work quality is poor. When I have enough slack, when it feels like I am maybe not doing enough work, I end up doing rather interesting work. More slack does not mean shirking work (I love my work!)
There are always more perspectives. More lenses. More prejudices to wipe away and look at situations anew.