I’m on board my Qantas flight heading home from Australia after one of the most enjoyable conferences of my life. Sydney is a city in which the short distance between the buildings and the beaches is an ever-present reminder that we are not meant to work too hard, that the natural world will ultimately win and that we must always remember to play.
On my third day here, as some of you already know, I was hit in the head by a large fruit bat while I was on my way to a formal dinner. Neither I nor the fruit bat were injured but I am only now, days later, beginning to understand the true significance of this bizarre incident.
I am something of a workaholic (to put it mildly) and I honestly believe that this fruit bat was sent down to earth to smack me in the head as if to say, “Josh, you are getting old. When are you going to stop writing e-mails and start enjoying your life already?!”
And I have enjoyed myself since then. In the days after my run-in with a Flying Fox (as they are known in Sydney), I have taken my time with each new person I have met. I have gone for a run whenever I felt like it. I have eaten lots of Haigh’s chocolates. And I have even laughed out loud. In short, I have felt as I did when I was ten years old and it was summertime and my only job was wearing sunblock.
Is there a chance this good feeling will slip away even before I hit the tarmac in New York, the big, bad wolf of cities? Absolutely. And so, as a type of insurance policy, I have resolved that if I find myself getting sucked back into the unhealthy rhythms of running a business or the insanity of a tight production schedule or the frustration of trying to read my deals, I will simply jump back on a Qantas flight, fly fourteen hours across the globe and stroll along the paths of Sydney Harbor until another fruit bat swoops down and slaps some sense back into me.
Until then, I plan to focus more on the pace of my days. Perhaps have fewer meetings but try to be more present during each one of them. Perhaps produce fewer shows but make certain each and every episode is as well crafted as a good Shaker Chair. I think this sort of less-is-more approach will suit me better than the more-really-sucks approach I’m used to. And I believe my new Sydney worldview will yield better results and make for a healthier and happier me. (Not to mention my staff!) I learn very slowly but I do learn.
So I return home with a bit of a tan and a few new business prospects in Australia. I have a box of chocolate koalas for my team and a lovely leather bag for Mary. But, most significantly, I believe I have been changed by Australia. I don’t know if it was my morning runs in the Royal Botanic Gardens, my daily hugs from the wise Cate McQuillan or the thud of a fruit bat against my head but I have been woken up in Oz and I hope I’ll never go back to sleep again.