Well, today is my last day in the US for a while…6 months to be exact. Tonight, I’ll be embarking on a journey that has been in the works for quite some time now. From May to November, I will be working with Rise Up Surf, a surf & yoga wellness retreat in Nicaragua (picture featured above!). As you now know, exploring health and well-being practices has been a passion of mine for a while and I am extremely grateful to my company for the opportunity to get hands-on and go much deeper in this field over the next 6 months.
So, what is a sabbatical you ask?
Aside from the incredible people I get to work with, one of the coolest things about my company are the numerous opportunities they provide their practitioners to grow and develop – making them more well-rounded individuals and ultimately, better employees. The sabbatical program is one of those opportunities. If you meet the criteria and get accepted into the program, you can pretty much write your own ticket and craft a unique experience for yourself – as long as it facilitates personal/professional growth OR volunteering (which I still believe leads to growth so ha.) It’s a win-win-win situation – my company wins because I come back sharper and happier, Rise Up Surf wins because I’ll be consulting for them free of charge (while my company pays me), and I win because I get to enjoy an incredible experience while pushing my limits and accelerating my growth. Damn, what a cool program.
Why surf + yoga? Why Rise Up?
To say I took this decision seriously would be an understatement. Think about it – if you had an opportunity to create what could be a once in a lifetime experience – wouldn’t you put some serious thought into your decision too? When I began searching for the right fit, I did a ton of research and spoke extensively with multiple organizations to start dreaming up what the experience could look like. At the core however, there were a few key things I was looking for:
o Focus on Health and Well-Being: After my previous posts, I don’t think I need to elaborate too much here. I love it, it’s extremely important to me, and I wanted to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are equally as passionate about this topic as I am so I can learn from and share with them.
o Located in Latin America: For some reason I connect to Latin/South American culture more than anywhere else I’ve traveled. Maybe it’s the food, the music, the passion, or the joy that they bring to the table…or maybe it’s because my mom was born in Ecuador, lol. Whatever it is, I knew that’s where I wanted to spend my time. Also, my Spanish speaking is “asi asi” and I am determined improve so that I can come back and have deep and meaningful conversations with my grandparents without my mom filling in the blanks.
o Mutual Value Exchange: One thing that was extremely important to me when filtering my search was the opportunity for a mutual value exchange. I was not looking for a place to take a vacation. Instead, I wanted to find a place where I could contribute my particular skills in a meaningful way and also learn from the people around me. My main value add will be business consulting services to help Rise Up improve and grow their business. In return, I get to learn from experts in surf, yoga, and nutrition/culinary arts.
o Connection: Finally, and most importantly, was connection. One thing I’ve learned through years of partnering with organizations is that the key to a productive and sustainable relationship is a strong connection between both parties. This is really what set Rise Up Surf apart from most of the other organizations that I interviewed. When I spoke with Phillip, the owner at Rise Up, I immediately connected to the way that he talked about his staff and his customers, with love and respect, referring to them as “La Familia.” Growing up in a Latin/Italian home, family and connection was at the foundation of everything we did. Knowing that I would be apart from my immediate family for 6 months made this criterion of connection all the more important. I am eager to meet the rest of the crew at Rise Up as well as the local community and build those family style relationships over the next few months.
Aside from all that – I am especially looking forward to the stillness and presence of mind that I will be able to access in this environment. I see myself as a perpetual work in progress and these unique opportunities to go deep and peel back the layers of my onion are a gift. Throughout my life, I’ve found that when I meditate or practice stillness, true insights are revealed to me – whether it be my true heart’s desire about a specific choice or silencing my ego to realize that I was completely wrong for how I acted in a certain situation.
It’s also going to be nice to get out of the building for a bit. As much as I love my company, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s easy to get lost in the sauce every once in a while (and to be clear, I am sure this is the case at any big company.) Coming out of undergrad into Management Consulting, you quickly notice that there is a pretty standard path – work hard, go to business school, and from there you either come back and work your way up to the executive level, or move on to a different top shelf organization – and if you stray from this path, it’s not uncommon to be met with an “Aww don’t worry, I’m sure things will work out…” Being surrounded by brilliant, high performing individuals is amazing, but it’s also easy to mistake the amazing things others is doing for what you should be doing. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that path at all – many close friends and mentors have taken this path and I know they will go on to do great things. But for me, I’ve always liked to do things a bit different and I think it’s going to be very healthy for me to take a few steps outside of all of the bustle and really listen to my heart. I’m stoked excited to see what I discover.
So, there you have it – that’s my general plan for the next 6 months – but as Mr. Mike Tyson would say…“Everyone has a plan until that get punched in the face (or…the fathe).” And I am sure there are a few left hooks waiting around a few corners for me – so stay tuned!
If you are curious to see more, be sure to follow this blog (just click the button on the right hand side of this page.) You can also follow my Instagram account @thebusinessathlete (much more content to come once I settle in!)
P.S. I am kicking this trip off with a week of R&R in Peru – so don’t be confused if you see some pictures/posts about that 🙂