17 days in the air …

I fly a lot. My work responsibilities are global, so I am often traveling to one of the Siemens locations around the world.

I recently looked at my frequent flier statement from Lufthansa, which showed that I have been seventeen days, twenty-one hours and fourteen minutes in the air since January 2010. Not door-to-door travel time, not days away from home, but actually in the air. Trapped.

It’s sobering to see this in print.

To be honest, I had a mixed reaction towards this, trending to negative. Yes, it’s quite the cocktail hour conversation piece—most normal people can’t fathom this level of travel. But do I really want this road warrior’s badge of honor? Is this something to astonish people with?

No, it’s not.

And then I remembered, it’s an “input” statistic—and it does not measure anything other than the effort needed to achieve something else. For all of those hours in the air, I got to be in amazing places—Beijing, Sao Paolo, Singapore, Munich, Orlando—spending time with people who I love being with face-to-face.

For example, just last week I was two days in Lisbon with colleagues from Global Shared Services, the company I was the CEO of two years ago. The team in Lisbon has achieved amazing milestones since I last visited them four years ago and has had business success well beyond my expectations. It was so much fun to see them again and to celebrate their successes. This is the important statistic, not the hours I spent flying to get there.

I would encourage you to make the same discovery I did: distinguish between “input” and “output” statistics, decide if the investment is worth the outcome and if yes, be happy!

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