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The art of traveler and travel manager happiness


My initial inspiration came from Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s chief executive. A few years back now, I read an article penned by Jeff which explains the importance of managing compassionately. From the article I learned that his personal vision is founded on two books – Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Fred Kofman’sConscious Business.

Admittedly, it was Kofman’s title that first fired my imagination (and I’ve since become a big fan of his work), but I quickly recognized that the two books are kind of intertwined. In order to reach Kofman’s level of ‘consciousness’ you need to understand what it means to be human. The Dalai Lama’s belief (and indeed that of all Buddhists) that humans are inherently kind and gentle, and unlike other mammals able to understand the impact we have on the world, is one worth aspiring to in all parts of our lives.

From reading the books that Jeff recommended, I learnt some important lessons. Lessons that have not only had an impact on my personal life, but have also informed how I behave in the work place. Yes, it might sound a bit touchy feely, but I believe strongly that these apply to the role of the travel manager too. So here goes…

1. Bring your full self to work

Work should be such an important part of one’s life that being happy and fulfilled while you do it should be core to your values. It’s not about balancing work and life; it’s about integrating the two. That’s our philosophy at Roadmap where we invite all our colleagues to bring their ‘full self’ to work. We want people to achieve to their full potential, as human beings as well as professionals, while having fun. Come close of ‘play’, we also want our employees to return home with their full self in tact; we want them to have the energy to give their loved ones the attention they deserve! By applying Jeff’s compassionate management principles this is possible. And the result is happy well-rounded people! All resulting in happy customers!

2. Become more conscious

Having said that, nobody but you, not a manager, colleague or partner, has the ability to reach this ‘full self’. And by this I mean in both personal and professional capacities. You, yes, you alone, will have to consciously work at it. So step back, take a deep breath, and reconsider the purpose of your job. Remember: your job is not what you do, but the goal you pursue.

Think about how your behavior impacts your work, the lives of your colleagues or employees, even your loved one’s. Ask yourself: what is preventing you, your relationships or your company from moving forward?

3. Make others happy

Coming back to the Dalai Lama then. The essence of happiness, he says, is to make others happy. Think about it; it makes perfect sense. If you feel true love – how you feel about your children or spouse – what you really want for them is happiness. Ok, that might be the hardest part, but if you start out in your daily life trying to make others happy – showing genuine, sincere interest – you will surprise others and yourself. Smile at the owner of the corner shop, thank the waitress in the restaurant, crack a joke with the polite hotel receptionist or flight attendant – all those hard working individuals who have to face disgruntled customers day in, day out. Show them genuine interest and the respect and courtesy they deserve.

I’ve hit the road happily this year, and while I still have a long way to go, it’s working. I’m already feeling much happier. So dear (travel) manager why not test my hypothesis? Dream up ways to make your colleagues (and road warriors), who are slogging it out to build your company, truly happy. And do let me know how it goes. That will make me even happier than I already am right now!