Returns Welcome

This past week my wife Kendra departed with her parents for one of our favourite places to relax. the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. I’m not as fortunate as Kendra when it comes to time off so I chose this time to take a tour of our branch offices in the US and connect with customers and our team. I enjoyed my trip through three cities over 4 days and then boarded a flight to Calgary, which is home for us.

A return, but only in name as I promptly boarded a flight to Comox in order to join them and help out on the 15 hour journey home.We’ve done this drive (and ferry) a number of times. And we will be in the midst of returning home when this post is published. We will have driven, and taken a ferry, and overnighted in a beautiful community with a nice dinner out. We will have laughed, conversed, dreamed, listened to music and sat in silence.We will have appreciated the beauty of Canada on the water, in the mountains and finally on the plains for the last hour home.

departingIn short this trip is solely for the purpose of returning, and it got me thinking about the topic.

First off I usually feel that returning is good. In its simplest sense returning is about being back in one’s home. Our nest. Where we are most comfortable. Things are familiar, or more importantly, ours. The place of our clan. There isn’t a lot of asking permission at home. We are comfortable in all aspects of our space.

But usually, returning also means returning to loved ones. Our son, our daughter, our granddaughter, Kendra’s parents. Family grounds us. Friends do too. Even though we were with friends travelling, being in our community is important.

We return to routines. To things that make us whole. Exercise schedules. Clubs. Classes. Our arts. Coffee we love. Our comfortable schedules. We go back to where we were. There is comfort in that, and there is nothing wrong with that. But there is also a returning to our energy before our vacation … something somehow regressive if we let it be.

We return to work. We aren’t on vacation anymore. We might start looking forward to our next time away. And our next opportunity to return. And then do it again. There is a risk of being in a space where we wish we were elsewhere again.

Why can’t we return differently? We often grow on vacation. We learn, discover, express, wonder, experience! What if we returned from vacation with one new thing, with one thought, that was going to alter routines. What if returned with the idea that we would change one thing in our routine that had become stale or limiting? What if we committed to growing in some way … whether small or significant?

returningA bit of this thread might look towards duality in our lives. When we are away from home and anonymous in some way perhaps we feel more free to be who we really are. That is usually true when we are with our good friends where we are comfortable in our “warts and glory”. But work sometimes seems like it is about security, providing, status, competing, evaluation, etc. so there one might strive to protect (or project) one’s image.

As leaders let’s think about what might happen if we focused on the return of a team member from vacation, or indeed any other significant ” out of office” experience, as a pivotal moment of growth? What if we shifted from the standard protocol of “welcome back … we missed you … did you have a great vacation … we have a lot to catch up on” to “welcome back … I’m excited to hear about your experiences … what will you miss most about your time away … how do we build some of that into your time at work going forward?”

It’s an interesting concept. We know that vacations are about relaxing, rejuvenating, re-energizing. Is it necessary that we let that go when we return? Can we use that as an opportunity to “level up” as we discussed in a previous post?

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Ian Munro @

Ian Munro is a leadership and vitality coach with a primary passion for working with senior professionals who wish to improve their connection to and vitality in their career, or who wish to make a transition to a meaningful and rewarding retirement. His methods are focused on helping clients understand why they present as they do in day-to-day life, discover their authentic self and give themselves permission to build a meaningful and rewarding future, both professional and personal. Ian’s love for this work has developed naturally as he built his career as an executive and leader in the IT services industry, serving in many roles and facets of this industry over 25 years. As he reached the pinnacle of his career he began to search more deeply for meaning and alternate rewards from his own career and to begin to plan for his own “first retirement”.

11 thoughts on “Returns Welcome

  1. I like how these thoughts and ideas Iand. So often, when I am away I can actually feel the creative juices flowing in my body. Sustaining that sense of being connected to the creative flow is always a challenge when I’m back in the city.

    Great food for thought… and growth.


    1. That’s true for me too. I always seem to be more creative when away. All those things I should/need/must do at work seem to jump up and command our time with busyness. Off to jump in the car to continue returning!

  2. I love those questions and the idea of incorporating parts of our time away into our work lives. I was just jokingly thinking that one could have a drink with an umbrella served to them in the afternoon.

    And then I remembered while employed at a previous job, I once had the pleasure of addressing a group of employees at their month staff get together. One Friday of each month, the company ended the work day early. Staff could go home or attend the staff get together. I was amazed to see that a very high percentage of the staff stayed and chose to be with each other.

    Sometimes they had a guest, like me to address the group for 10 minutes and answer any questions, or a staff member could share what their group was doing with the rest of the staff, again 10 minutes and questions.

    The rest of the time was bonding with each other and social. The company ordered pizza, beer, etc. Attendants included reps in all areas from the big bosses to interns and people made a point of meeting new people. It was awesome! Long story short – that could be a version of my drink with an umbrella, yes?

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on this Diana. I think this idea of bringing the social aspects of being on vacation to the office is great. Anything that allows us to be more authentic is awesome.

  3. We have both previously described human needs and in this post you describe this as you return home to your needs (home, comfort, security of routine, companionship, meaningful projects through work etc). One of the parts on needs I have not been able to fully fathom is where ‘fun’ and ‘experiences’ fit in. Robbins puts it as ‘variety’ lower down, Maslow and others higher up. Don’t we all need it, all the time? Whether that be ‘relaxing’ by quiet activities on a daily basis, or higher-level ‘experiences’.
    I agree that we should put this into our lives but how and how often can be a dilemma.

    1. A couple interesting thoughts here Elizabeth.

      First, in returning I wasn’t thinking about needs but that is true … there is a need for income, place to live, family, etc. That certainly is a driver to returning home and in that sense probably does say that we return to routine.

      Second, this concept of fun and experiences and where they fit into a needs hierarchy. I think the need I was getting at here would be near the top of the Robbins pyramid and that would be growth. When away from our normal surrounding the new stimuli, experiences, people, etc will open our eyes and minds and cause us to grow. I think what I’m really wondering about is how to bring some of this growth back into our routine as well.

      1. I see where you are coming from now and I like this concept. It would be fantastic to bring growth back into out ordinary everyday lives. It is probably the distinction in some people of seeking out long-term contentment or personal growth as opposed to short-term bursts of ‘fun’.

  4. Nice read Ian! I am fortunate to return home to my parents in Calgary every month now. although I am not returning from vacation, I still feel this renewed sense of enthusiasm for life.

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