What a Receptionist Taught Me About the Secret of Life

As someone committed to lifelong learning, I embrace the lessons the universe teaches me. Some are more elusive than others, and most of the time, you don’t see them coming, or the people who show up in your life that are your greatest teachers. Everything, and everyone are significant. Here’s a powerful lesson about life I was reminded of by a wise receptionist at a remote hotel in Peru. Open your eyes, and you’ll find your greatest teachers are right in front of you.

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A Journey Back to Your-Self

It was almost 11am when I arrived at a small bed and breakfast in Machu Picchu, Peru.

It’s been long journey and I was ready to lie down for a much-needed rest. I approached the front desk, only to find no one was there. After a few minutes, I walked around the front desk into the back office and found a gentleman, sitting, reading a book, relaxing and enjoying the breathtaking view.

“Hi. I’m checking in,” I said, half asleep.

“Welcome!” the man said enthusiastically. It turns out this receptionist was also the owner. After confirming who I was, he handed me my room key.

“Thanks! Oh, one more thing. What’s the password to connect to the internet?” I asked.

“We don’t have internet access here.”

Maybe it was jet lag or pure exhaustion. Maybe I misheard him. So, I respectfully asked again. “I’m sorry, did you say you don’t have internet access?”

“Correct,” the man softly repeated. “We don’t have internet.”

I was shocked. “How can that be?” I thought to myself. The caring coach in me needed to understand why a business would not have internet access.

“How do you get online and run your business? How do you access the information you need or stay on top of the news, latest business trends and technology that could help build and manage your business? I’ve traveled the world and every hotel has internet, at least for the guests. Why don’t you?” I inquired with great curiosity.

“How would that help me?” he asked.

“Well, if you were online, you could also put up a website, since I booked my room here through a third-party website. Then, you could advertise and create more awareness of your beautiful bed and breakfast. Maybe discover new resources that can help manage your business.”

“Why would I need to do that?” the man asked with mild curiosity.

“If you did have an online presence, you can better manage and build your business.”

“Why would I want to build my business?”

“For one, you can bring in more guests.”

“Then what?” the owner inquired.

“Then you have an opportunity to expand your business; maybe open up another bed and breakfast.”

“Why would I want to do that?”

I complimented the owner on the beauty of his bed and breakfast and asked how long it took to build it. He replied that it only took a little while and had everything here to support his family’s needs.

I then then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The man said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends. I have a full and busy life, sir.”

“But with two properties, you can generate more revenue, make more money, and hire a staff.”

“Why would I want to hire more people?”

“If you did, then you’d be able to delegate some of your responsibilities, as you build a bigger, more profitable business.”

“And, why would I ever want that?”

I encouragingly shared, “You would initially have to work harder and spend more time to get these additional properties up and running. But with the profit, you can open another bed and breakfast. Before you know it, you can own several bed and breakfasts.”

The owner asked, “But how long will this all take?”

To which I replied, “Anywhere from five to fifteen years, depending on your goal.”

“But what then?”

“And then,” I concluded, “You can kick back, relax, have more time to do the things you want to do, and enjoy your family and the quality of your life.”

The man stopped and thought for a moment. I’ll never forget his response. Looking at me with a warm smile and wise, elderly eyes, he profoundly said,

“What do you think I’m doing now?”

Wow. I had to travel across the world to be reminded of this life lesson. Often in search of our true self and what we think success looks like, on our quest for more; more money, acknowledgment, success, self-awareness, a better job, material possessions that we think would truly make us happy, it was this man from Peru who gave me a wonderful gift. A gift of perspective and enlightenment.

By pursuing a different path to build his business and improve the quality of life for himself and his family meant giving up the very thing he already has! And I thought I was the teacher, only to find out from this experience, I was, in fact, the student.

There Are No Coincidences – Everything is an A.F.G.O.

Most people don’t realize that throughout your life’s journey to achieve what you think you want, the search isn’t where you go, but where you look. And the meaningful journey to discover who you are and the life you want starts by looking within. While many of us work hard to amass what we think we want, it doesn’t define you or who you are, and it won’t bring you the authentic fulfillment and joy you seek.

The journey to lifelong fulfillment, health, meaning and happiness always starts and ends within you.

Many people resist the universal lessons we get tested on. That’s why I refer to them as A.F.G.O.’s. Another Freaking Growth Opportunity! Often, while uncomfortable, they are your greatest opportunities for personal growth.

The irony is, if you adopt this mindset, especially as a business leader, it removes all the self-imposed pressure to constantly look good and prove your self-worth, so that you can be more present, and live in a healthy state of abundance. And if you’re more present, you will be able to honor your core values, connect with people on a deeper, more meaningful and personal level and, subsequently, achieve what you want as a natural byproduct of honoring who you are.

As I get older, life becomes less about what material possession I want, and more about who I want to be and the people I can help. Giving and living simply is the gateway to true peace and prosperity.

Stop Chasing the Ether

The answer to attracting meaning, happiness, health and peace of mind into your life isn’t out there for you search and find. And if you do, similar to hitting your quarterly business objectives, the reward is a fleeting feeling of success, as you chase the ether for the next win.

Stop. Take a few minutes for silent reflection. If you want to accelerate your growth and personal evolution, keep this parable top of mind every day. Park your ego and open your eyes, so that you can recognize your teachers that show up; whether they are family, friends, coworkers, customers, even strangers. Embrace the lessons that each experience and every person gifts to you. You’ll see how life’s greatest lessons are already right in front of you.

That’s why if you can embrace every moment, the secret of living an extraordinary life is already within you.