Sylva was a wonderful surprise for us. We stayed at a farmhouse from 1909 in the valley surrounded by dense forests. There was a stream nearby, and you could hear the water rush over the rocks, but that was the only thing rushing in this place. Occasionally a bird chirped. The sun was bright, and the breeze was cool. My sons were running around and rolling in the lush green grass, enjoying the freedom. Everything felt at peace.
Given the manic pace of the last few weeks of packing, planning, shipping, organizing and then, of course, driving, it was the first time I felt that I was on a break. So I sat there on the porch sipping a cup of tea, watching the flag swirl in the wind and savored the moment.
Jag and I talked about how such a place would be perfect to live in at some point when the kids no longer need us to live near more urban surroundings. Even my parents in Australia, who got a tour of the valley on a live video call, could see the beauty and imagine the peace I felt.
Later, it got me thinking. Why can’t people live anywhere secluded yet participate in learning and earning from wherever they might be? If one thing the COVID pandemic has taught us over the past few years is that we should challenge and question some of the assumptions about what it means to go to work and school. Entire organizations and schools operated for years entirely remotely. Yet, in the news, we see CEOs pleading with (e.g., Starbucks) or scaring their (e.g., Tesla) employees into coming to work out of the buildings that were relics of a different mindset or management style.
I believe that most leaders insisting on getting their employees back to work out of largely empty buildings are doing so for two reasons. First is personal biases (economic, confirmation, self-serving, etc.) that they are blind to. The second is a lack of skills in hiring, coaching and leading remotely. The world has seen plenty of evidence (pre and during COVID) to challenge some of our old social operating models. Those who pivot, adapt and kill stupid rules/assumptions will more likely thrive – financially, physically and emotionally. Ultimately, organizations must decide what they prioritize more – their team’s vitality (joy, productivity, creativity and well-being) or traditional-minded leaders who are defaulting to what they are comfortable with.
As my family and I will live this ‘digital nomad’ life for the next two months, I am curious to see how it feels for someone who works or learns from anywhere they can while being connected.
Today, it was so good to enjoy the cool air on the summit of Mount Mitchell with my family and drive the winding roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Roanoke, VA. Living in a place like the tiny farmhouse in the mountains and yet being connected globally is a very satisfying way to live, earn and learn.
Recommendation: Coffee and Avocado Toast at White Moon Cafe, Sylva NC
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