11 Leadership Lessons from Moving

Allison and I moved across country with our cat Buddy, and with the help of Allison’s parents (who are pictured here at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota) and my sister.

My wife Allison and I just moved across country, as we begin new roles for this year as Allison will serve a pastoral internship and I will serve as a congregation’s mission developer. This partly explains why the blog has been a bit quieter than usual lately as we have moved and been settling into our new roles.

Today I am thinking about our move, and as I do I am reminded of at least 11 lessons about leadership which were inspired by it:

Stay Calm Under Pressure – Moving is not easy and can be stressful. Emotions are involved, long days of packing, unpacking, and driving are involved. Unfamiliar beds and bedrooms are slept in. Not to mention that moving is change, and “change is hard.” For your sake as a leader, and for those around you, stay calm. Remember to take deep breaths and think before you let your emotions and stress get the better of you.

Have a Sense of Humor and Stay Positive – Not only is change hard, like the change experienced in moving, it can be unexpected or lead to unexpected situations. Having a sense of humor, and being able to laugh when something doesn’t quite go as planned helps make the day easier and more enjoyable.

Take Intentional Breaks – Hard work is good. But if you don’t take time to stretch your legs and remove your eyes from the many screens you work from, you’ll likely pay a price. The same goes for moving. Though I am an advocate of long road trips, it is important to take bathroom breaks when filling up your car’s tank (or when visiting Wall Drug). It’s also important to stretch your legs and clear your head. It will refresh you and make your day that much better.

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore

Admire Beauty – If you can take a break that allows you to get outside and enjoy the beauty around you, it’s that much better. While moving we did just this at places like Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, and Multnomah Falls.

Use Your Time Wisely – When moving, if you are fortunate enough like us to have a team of family to help with the driving, take advantage of when you aren’t driving or navigating to get some work done (like me writing while riding in the backseat), or getting some extra rest in with a nice little nap. In your leadership, use your time fully, so that you aren’t scrambling at the end of the day to get everything you wanted to get done that day, done in the last half hour of work. If you know your energy levels at different times of the day, shape your day to maximize your productivity. For example, this usually means for me that I am best at writing when I get up early to write in the morning.

Our moving crew (including Allison's parents and my sister Tamara), as well as two great friends, Svea & Cori Jo, who were among the crew who helped us unload our truck.
Our moving crew (including Allison’s parents and my sister Tamara), as well as two great friends, Svea & Cori Jo, who were among the crew who helped us unload our truck.

Be Able (and Ready) to Adapt – The unexpected will happen- someone might get sick, you might get a flat tire, a storm might move across the country and you end up driving through it… Life happens. When it does, be able to roll with it.

Plan Ahead of Time – Being able to adapt is often made easier when you plan ahead. For our move, I put together a binder like this with a potential itinerary for each day. Of course we didn’t always stick to the exact times, but the overall sketch and plan enabled us to have fun and full days, with the assurance that we had hotel rooms each night for a good night’s rest and good food too.

Listen – Unless you are moving by yourself, you aren’t the only person traveling across country. Being able to listen to those in your group (and around you) is critical for a positive experience and good energy.

Eat a Good Breakfast – You know the old saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Well, when on the road, be sure to fill up. If you are staying at a hotel, you likely have a breakfast included. Take advantage of the breakfast for the sake of your wallet, but also to eat a balanced and filling meal which gets you energized for a day on the road.

Get Plenty of Sleep and Rest – This one really goes without saying. If you don’t have a good night sleep, you likely won’t have as good of a day the next day, much to the detriment of your work (or move) and those you work with.

Our Adventure Cat
Buddy, our Adventure Cat

If the Cat’s Happy, You Probably Are Too – We moved cross country with our cat Buddy. It turns out he is an adventure cat. As long as he could know that his needs were being met (eating, drinking water, and being able to use the litter box) and that his people were nearby, he was golden. If you can take care of your cat’s needs, you probably are meeting your’s too. The worst thing would be to travel cross country with a cat meowing and whining the whole time. Thankfully, that did not happen and we had a happy move.

What lessons have you learned about leadership when you have moved? What questions do you have about leadership based on these thoughts?

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