Take a Walk on the Beach

September 23, 2022

By Dave Bushy, PCC

Ever do some deep and reflective thinking while you were walking or hiking? 

It happened for me one day some years back when my best friend invited me to walk the beach near our home.  It was a Sunday and I had just finished a few hours of catch-up on emails left over from a work week.  I felt relieved that I had at least 20 hours before going back to work in New York City, to which I commuted nearly two hours each way from Long Island.

My schedule was hectic, but I had convinced myself that it was manageable.  After all, I had invested nearly three years into a start-up and I was still relatively young.  Investing 60-70 hours into a workweek seemed reasonable enough.  And there was the sheer excitement of being with a new company, opening up new locations and creating a new approach to customer service. 

Everything seemed so manageable.

We headed to a beautiful beach near Northport, New York and stepped out onto the sand on a beautiful sunlit day.  The temperature was just right, and walking together seemed nearly perfect.  For a while my friend walked with me silently, as we both noticed the shimmering water and gulls flying by the shore.

Then it came.  My friend asked, “How do you think things are going?” 

I readily answered: “It’s going great – work is keeping me engaged and I think I’ve got just the right work-life balance.”

“And what does that mean to you?” came the reply.

“Well,” I said, “I’m taking Sunday afternoons off and I try to be helpful when I’m home.  And I keep up with friendships as best I can.”

“And what about your personal relationships?”

My answer: “They’re working.”

Her response hook me: “It’s hard for me to say this to you.  Actually. I feel very sad saying it, but it’s not working for me.”

I looked at my wife, my best friend and partner of more than 25 years.  I didn’t answer for more than a minute.  My reply was measured, and yet it still did not quite hit the mark: “What isn’t working?”

She looked into my eyes and said, “You’ve got everything under control at work, don’t you?  She paused and motioned to each of us and then both of us together and slowly said with her eyes, her heart and her hands, “This – this ‘us’ is not working – not in the way that you think it is.”

That conversation sits with me still and I am so thankful that the person closest to me had the courage to help me open my eyes.  That walk was the catalyst for a change in my perspective and a dramatic shift in my behavior.  It emerged from a courageous conversation – one that was perhaps the most timely and meaningful I have ever experienced.

Everyone deserves a walk on the beach.

While it isn’t always about a job change or a new career pathway, it is always about perspective and linking the heart with the mind.    And it can be done by asking yourself questions or being fortunate enough—and open enough—to have someone ask a few questions of you.  

To experience a courageous conversation.  With a business colleague, a dear friend or a partner in life.

It might just provide a shift in perspective that changes you.

Dave Bushy of Boston Executive Coaches – bostonexecutivecoaches.com – is a an ICF-certified coach who was trained at the Gestalt International Study Center (GISC).  He is a former U.S. Army officer and senior airline executive who works with leaders throughout American industry.

Photo courtesy of CANDICE CANDICE at Pixabay

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