How much baggage are you carrying?

Whenever I travel by air and I’ll be away from home for just one night, I travel as light as I can – one appropriately sized carry-on bag and that’s it.

It’s such a pleasure arriving at one’s destination and being able to walk past the baggage carousels where your fellow travellers have to stand and wait to collect their checked in luggage. One is usually able to get to the car hire outlet ahead of the crowd and get out of the airport and on one’s way with the minimum of fuss.  

As an addicted people watcher, I am fascinated by the baggage other passengers carry on to planes, particularly those travelers who simply have more carry-on baggage than they can handle (despite the well-communicated baggage restrictions of the airline).   

Airlines generally provide for passengers to carry one bag of about seven kilograms onto the flight, as well as a handbag, laptop or briefcase. Invariably, there are passengers with all of that, and more – bottles of wine or other gifts, and a bunch of other extras, resulting in the person holding up everybody behind them as they struggle to negotiate steps and aisles, and then, wait for it, fill up the limited overhead space with all their extras, leaving the other passengers booked in their row to have to wander around until they’ve found spare space in the overhead compartments somewhere else. Of course, these passengers then have to wait for everybody else to disembark so they can proceed 10 rows back to collect their carry-on baggage where they were forced to stow it.

Baggage is a necessary part of long distance travel. When you’re travelling to a destination far removed from where you are – and you’re going to stay for a period of time – you’re going to need to take some luggage, otherwise known as baggage, with you. Of course, if you’re carrying too much baggage while in transit, your mobility will be severely restricted and the simplest undertaking in terms of moving from one place to another becomes a major undertaking, not to mention the inconvenience you cause your fellow passengers.

The trick is to carry only the baggage necessary for your trip and no more. That helps you to remain mobile and independent, not requiring the help of airline staff of other travellers, to get to where you want to.

What kind of baggage do you carry on to a flight when you travel? Are you a light traveller or a traveller that carries too much baggage?

More to the point, as a leader, what kind of emotional baggage are you carrying in your life?

Leaders don’t have the luxury of being able to carry too much baggage because they have to be focused on their people. They can’t afford to be weighed down by their own baggage because they will then be unable to help anyone else.

Have you ever noticed how little baggage tour guides carry? They carry the bare minimum – so that they are able to focus on their tour group. Imagine a heavily weighed down tour guide trying to shepherd a bunch of tourists through an unfamiliar airport. It would be an absolute circus.

The same applies to business leaders. When you carry too much baggage in the business world, you are continually under a lot more pressure simply because your baggage is weighing you down.

Stop and have a look at the baggage you’re carrying at the moment. Is it necessary? Is it baggage you’ve become so used to carrying that you no longer notice it and can’t remember why you’re still carrying it – but you are.

In my age management programme for senior executives, I deal mainly with leaders from 50 years and up. Many of them are carrying a tremendous amount of baggage, and they’re all united by one common fact: none of them are happy and fulfilled. If carrying baggage were to make you happy, I’d say, “Carry all the baggage you can!” But it won’t. So drop the baggage!

Take a good look at how much baggage you’re carrying and make a conscious effort to drop all of the unnecessary baggage you’re carrying. That will set you free to be the leader you were meant to be.

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.

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