By Stephanie Heinatz, Founder
Looking out over Grace Bay, feeling the sunshine and 90 degrees of Turks and Caicos air beating down on my neck, I strained to see the point where the deep blue hues of the sky ended and the bright turquoise waters of the sea began. The crisp, white sandy beach beamed in the light. People all around were sprawled out on lounge chairs. Some floated in the salty water, bobbing along the shore. Others kept their heads nestled inside the pages of books and magazines.
Admittedly, I kept glancing at my phone. It was the first hour of a vacation a long time in the making and the thought of being away from the office petrified me. What if someone needed something? What if I couldn’t respond quickly enough? What if…
I kept wondering, and checking, to see how strong the Wi-Fi connection would be. Would it reach only the pool at the resort? Or would it stretch down to the beach, where I suspected we would spend most of the week.
It was in that moment that I met Shawn.
“Welcome to Turks and Caicos,” he said, sporting a royal blue polo shirt branded for Ocean Club Resorts, flashing a bright white smile that’s warmness competed only with the sparkle in his eyes.
“Thank you,” I’m sure I replied. “How are you?”
“I’m doing better than the weather.”
That stopped me. How could that be? It was late October. The weather here in the British West Indies was a far cry from the dreary, wet and chilly Virginia I’d just left.
“Even when it rains, it’s still beautiful,” Shawn would tell me on a different day.
That’s when it hit me. It’s all about perspective and attitude.
And over the course of the next five days – and on each day Shawn told me he was better than the weather – Turks and Caicos gave me much more than the vacation I craved. It left me with peace and deep lessons on life and business.
Better Than The Weather
It’s true. It’s all about perspective and attitude. As a small business owner – and fellow small business owners and entrepreneurs can relate to this – the day to day grind of the hustle and meeting deadlines can quickly catch up to you. Instead of seeing the beauty of the work, the gift of people trusting you to support them in their life and business, you see the deadlines. The boxes to check.
My guess is that if it was storming and raining outside, Shawn would have the same reply when asked how he’s doing. That is the point.
Look around you. See the blessings you have. Focus on them. And have the vision to see that no matter what storms may come, you are always doing better than the weather.
Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin
It’s true. Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos has been named the best beach in the world. THE WORLD! The white sand. The turquoise sea so salty you can float in water over your head for hours without treading water. The shoreline that doesn’t suffer from rough seas (generally) or strong underwater currents.
I spent many mornings walking along this shoreline, from Ocean Club Resorts (west) to a nearby conch shell mecca of a beach just over a mile or so away.
The first day, along my walks, I saw many men and women in bathing suits that I myself would never wear, showing far more skin than I would ever be comfortable revealing given my constant (and typical female) feeling that I’m never thin enough or fit enough or good enough. Nobody wants to see that.
By the middle of the trip, though, I had learned something vital. These people – 60-70-80-year-olds in thongs and men in Speedos – had something I craved. They were comfortable in their own skin. They were happy with who they were and didn’t care.
By the last full day on the beach, I took my cover up off for longer stretches of time. I sat in the sand and built sand castles with my son. And I stopped worrying about sucking it in and what people thought.
I came back to the States, ready to dig into work, with more confidence. You see, this lesson is vital in business, too. Be confident in what you do, your ideas. Be open to constructive feedback, but always be willing to show the best of yourself.
Take Care of Your Health
All that leaves you is tired and foggy, unable to think clearly and creatively. And in my business – the intersection of public relations and marketing – that is a dangerous place to be.
Every night in Turks and Caicos, I fell asleep well before 10 p.m. and didn’t wake until 7 or later. And every morning, on my beach walks and runs, I couldn’t stop my brain from thinking up new ideas – ideas I had to jot down immediately and am acting on now (like this blog post).
Run Along the Shore
Before leaving for Turks and Caicos, I treated myself to a new pair of running shoes. There’s nothing like the feel of a fresh pair of shoes. The tightness that confines your feet as you run. The plump cushions.
My goal was to run or walk each day along the water’s edge.
On the first day, I ran in the loose sand, far from the point where the waves lapped the land. I didn’t want to get those new shoes wet. It was the safe route. But by the next day, my ankles ached from having to adjust to every step.
Eventually I got a little braver. I ran close to the water. Sure, the waves threatened to wash over my new shoes, but the sand was more compact. I ran faster, harder, better.
So run along the shore. What’s that mean in business? Take the risk. You may get wet, you may have to dry out your new shoes if it doesn’t work out quite right, but the reward will be that much sweeter.
Jump From the Top
Will Heinatz, my sweet, blond haired, blue eyed, curious and cuddle loving five-year-old boy, stood on what had to be 12 or 15 feet above the surface of the water, on top of a snorkeling excursion boat. We’d pulled into a small cove after an hour of exploring a nearby island and snorkeling on a coral reef for some good ole fashioned water fun – and Will wanted to jump off the top of the boat.
And jump is just what he did. He had no fear, just a smile and excitement.
Have an idea in business? Not sure what will happen? Jump right in. The worst thing that can happen is you get a little wet and don’t want to do it again. The best thing? It could be a ton of fun and you might just climb right back up to do it all over again.
That’s definitely what Will did on the top of that boat.
Shuffle Your Playlist
Just because it’s the way you’ve always done things, doesn’t mean it’s the best way.
I have the same running playlist that I switch on every time I hit the streets to break a sweat. It’s a mix of classic hip-hop, today’s R&B and some hard, pumping rock. I particularly love 80s rock! Sometimes I’ll get a little crazy and turn on Pandora’s LL Cool J station, but in reality, it’s no different than my playlist, just a different station.
Somehow on one run along Grace Bay Beach, I neglected to turn on my playlist and instead hit shuffle on my entire music library.
And then I was hit with it – Otis Redding and The Dock of the Bay rolls on.
The softer music, the lighter lyrics, caused me to run faster. Harder. I didn’t want to stop, even when I reached my targeted end point.
Shuffle your playlist every now and then. Try different things. Life evolves, business evolves, and forcing yourself to change will give you a new perspective, renewed energy and new goals.
Dive Right In
In the very last hour of the visit to Turks and Caicos, that same precious Will wanted to spend in the pool. I went for a run. He splashed around. On my walk back up to the resort, he was laughing, smiling, swimming – and all I wanted to do was be in that moment with him. Looking at my watch, I knew there was no time left to get to the condo, change into my bathing suit and still have time to swim and make our flight.
I untied my sneakers and….dove right in. Running clothes, baseball cap and all.
Will just looked at me and smiled.
“You are a crazy Mommy,” he said laughing.
That’s all I needed to realize that sometimes you just have to dive right in. Even if you aren’t ready, you’ll never know the joy or success you’ll find unless you try.
Don’t let perfect conditions get in the way. A client once told me – and he’s a West Point and Harvard Business School graduate – that you should never let perfection get in the way of good. Make sure you leap.
If I had made that moment perfect – taken the time to get on my bathing suit – I would have missed the look of glee and surprise on that sweet boy on seeing his far too often busy Momma taking a moment to be crazy and diving right in.
The Wi-Fi, as I found out, worked wonderfully well at the Ocean Club Resorts. But despite my day one anxiety about not being able to check email and respond to work requests, I didn’t log in nearly as much as I thought I would.
Why? I realized the power of unplugging.
I did check email. I did respond to a few things – as small business owners I’m not sure you can ever really be completely away. Your business, in many ways, is like your baby.
But I did spend entire days without looking. I sat on the beach, looking out on the waters, just thinking. I took notes on pad and paper. I read magazines and articles that had been piling up for months in my “when I have time I’d like to read this” stack.
The result? I’ve come back more energized than ever, filled with more ideas than ever. I’m seeing work we’ve done before the trip and looking at fresh ways to enhance it.
All because I took the time to unplug.
And today, I’m doing better than the weather.