Wake Up and See the Airplanes

By ZACK BARNA, Class 24
Owner, Guidelight Marketing

I love my job.  I love building relationships and connecting people.  I also love my community involvement with Scottsdale Leadership and Scottsdale 20-30.  It seems that the adage, ‘the more you give, the more you receive,’ is constantly at work in my life.  My only problem is stopping long enough to come up for air. But ever since the birth of my now year-old daughter, Camryn Grace, I have a newly realized desire to stop and smell the roses – or, in Camryn’s case, notice the airplanes.

Since her birth, the lessons she has taught me are immeasurable, and many of these lessons happen in the simplest moments. For example, she has an incredible ability to hear airplanes overhead. No matter what she’s doing, whether splashing in the pool or romping around with our bulldog, she never misses an airplane flying through the sky.  She’ll be running and laughing and then, all of a sudden, she’ll freeze and shoot a finger high into the sky, showing all of us the airplane she spotted (which none of us adults had noticed).

So now I pose the question: Are you seeing your airplanes? Or is your Blackberry’s incessant buzz drowning out the cues of life’s simplest pleasures? I’m certain that I missed my share of airplanes over the years, but Camryn’s birth renewed my connection to the things that make me happy and fulfilled, and inspired me to compartmentalize the other areas of my life so they don’t interfere with what really matters.

As business owners, my wife and I constantly strive to achieve that elusive work-life balance. To that end, we have created some household practices that help us establish boundaries between our professional and personal lives, even during the craziest of weeks.

  • We have “technology free” family dinners – no TV in the background, no Blackberries on the table.
  • On the nights that we have to do some work, we wait until our daughter has gone to bed so we can be fully present with her during dinner and bedtime
  • We designate “No Work Nights” each week. That means no laptop, no Blackberry, no tweets, no blog updates
  • We relegated our phones to other end of bedroom instead of our nightstands, so they aren’t the last thing we see at night and the first thing we see in the morning
  • Each day, we nurture ourselves with a little dose of nature, even if it’s watering the outdoor plants together. Not only does the fresh air revitalize us, but the airplane-watching is far better outside… 😉

As technology continues to evolve, I think balance will become even more elusive for all of us, and even more important. So, I challenge you to take a moment to stop to identify your ‘airplanes,’ and spend some time each day looking for them.

In a recent article by Russell Helwig in the Scottsdale Republic he explains that taking breaks is important for leaders.

I want to know- what do you do to take a break?



Filed under Alumni, Leadership

9 responses to “Wake Up and See the Airplanes

  1. Thank you Zack. A refreshing blog post to say the least. Luke and I will strive to do the same. Thanks for leading by example.


  2. Thanks Naj! It’s amazing how much you can learn from a 1 year old mini-human! 🙂

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  4. Zack, great post. A reminder to NOT wait for the wake up call to focus on what matters most. Cherish time and be in the moment. Thanks for the gentle reminder.

  5. It sounds like you need to talk your wife into letting you and the little lady come up and enjoy the friendly skies with me!!!!!– great post.

  6. Joy

    Those guidelines are a great starting point! I’ve caught myself a few times playing on my phone during dinner when I SHOULD be discussing the day with the little one. He notices the planes too – usually as I’m trying to get him to hurry along if we’re running late for something that’s not nearly as important as taking a moment to really soak it all in. I grew up on an Air Force base so the sound of a jet will stop me in my tracks – maybe cos the “younger me” knows better.

    I hope my son and your little one continue to hear the planes for a very long time…and that we all can hear them WITHOUT the help of those who know better. 🙂

    Kudos on the post. I look forward to more!

  7. Wow – Great Message Zach – thank you so much. Family Dinners are a big deal at my house too – when I was young we had family dinners and there was no technology involved (an occasional dinosaur interruption but no tv – LOL). This was a great message thank you!!

  8. Zach,

    great reminder and really well written piece. it read as if professionally written. (something to think about 🙂

    Susan and I try to do what you suggest, but you articulated it better and gave real life ways to do it.

    I dump the BB when I am home, and don’t see it again until I leave in the morning. And I try to start each day thanking God for
    1. that i woke up, and 2. for the day ahead and the opportunities to come.

    Thanks for posting

    Jim Duchene
    Class 18

  9. Lisa

    Great post Zack, it’s so easy to forget about the little things in life when we are constantly reminded & surrounded by all the chaos of life. Imagine seeing the world again through a 1-year olds eyes… pure joy!

    Thanks for the reminder Zack!

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