| I have arrived. I am home.
This statement by the venerable Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh, came to me at Mar de Jade this week. I have been coming to this retreat center north of Puerto Vallarta with my family for fifteen years, and it holds some of my fondest memories. It was here that Rafael built his first sand cities and Santiago inherited my passion for boogie boarding. But after being away for three years, I wondered whether the magic would still be there. When I arrived, the owner, Laura del Valle, greeted me as though no time had passed. She gave me a big hug and a snack then sent me off to the beach. Within the hour, I felt the stress and demands of daily life disappear. I felt grounded but lighter at the same time.
We have all had that experience where we have arrived somewhere and thought, “I have arrived. I am home.” And while aesthetics play a role, it is mostly about spirit and intention. Patrick Makuakane, my kumu hula, is a master at creating such spaces. Four nights each week, he teaches Hawaiian dance, language and culture to hundreds of students in a humble school auditorium. And no matter how we are feeling or what kind of day we had, it all melts away when we walk through those doors because Patrick has sanctified the space and makes sure each of us is seen and appreciated.
Patrick and Laura teach us important lessons about hospitality and creating sanctuary. At the very least, I have found that the ability to bring that feeling to your clients and guests is essential. It conveys a message about how others matter. Think for a moment about what a person’s first point of contact is with your organization. Does your staff greet people with kindness and respect? Would you consider your staff to be good ambassadors for your organization? Are you providing enough support, training and pay for them to recognize the importance of their jobs? As leaders, it is important to to set a welcoming and respectful tone and to infuse that tone throughout the organization. Anyone crossing your threshold should be able to say “I have arrived. I am home.”
And as leaders, you need to create such spaces for yourselves as well. For me, this point became clear when I was doing HIV work years ago. There was one point in my commute home when I reached the crest of a hill and saw the Pacific Ocean. Just at that moment, I released the stress of the day and claimed space for my own rest and rejuvenation. It became a daily ritual that allowed me to cultivate my internal capacity to create a welcoming space for others.
Where is that space for you? What do you need to do to claim it? Can you find such spaces in your day-to-day life? It may be as simple as closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. Or playing a special song on the way home. Or creating your own quiet space at home to ground yourself. Sanctify your own space where you can truly say, “I have arrived. I am home.” Then you can create such spaces for others.
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