Your Cup of Joe Doesn’t Have to Be to Go


Picture the downtown Chicago scene right now — coffee shops on every corner and people walking to their destination with a cup of joe in their hand. It’s become a new normal for us.  We don’t even stop to question it.

I just returned from a trip to a few of my favorite places abroad, Italy.  It was my first time being able to experience everything they had to offer, instead of working. 

Three learnings that I want to share with you:     

1)    Did you know every cup of coffee I drank was in a mug with a saucer?  

Every little café, train station, even the airport!  It forced you to sit down and enjoy that wonderful tasting coffee, cappuccino, macchiato or latte.  Nobody walked around with a to-go cardboard cup of coffee.  It just didn’t happen. 

2)    Meals were not a necessity but an experience. 

You didn’t see people eating as they were walking to their next destination.  In every place we ate, you had to ask for the check because they weren’t willing to disrupt your experience — especially in non-touristy areas where we pretended to be locals.  The only fast food option was an excellent sandwich at a café.  That’s it.   

3)    Everyone is active all of the time, walking or biking most everywhere. 

There were no gyms.  Getting everywhere was easy.  I averaged 6-8 miles a day of walking throughout my trip.     

I would enjoy this lifestyle for a more extended period.

When coaching leaders I often hear stories of maximization — feeling the need to maximize every moment that they have.  These leaders are so busy, often eating lunch at their desks if they are lucky, grabbing a coffee to go and sitting through meeting after meeting.   I can relate. I have the same challenges.  High five?  

No, no high fives.  It’s an issue.  

Self-care is a leadership skill, and it is essential. 

  • Don’t take your cup of joe to go.  Sit, meditate, be with your thoughts, and think of your hopes and fears for the day. 

  • Get out from your desk, eat anywhere else.  Grab lunch with a thought partner or friend.  Enjoy the meal, just not at your office.  

  • Walk… just to clear your mind or come up with alternative ideas to a challenge you are facing.  I have been following Andrea Hoig, publisher with metro Magazine and her journey to become more active.  She sends out messages on social media inviting you to join her in a morning walk and talk.  It is inspiring to those who join her!  

Taking breaks increases productivity, jolts your creativity and helps create healthy habits.  A few small changes can create powerful habits in self-care. 

It is a reminder to slow down and enjoy; our coffee doesn’t have to be to-go, our lunch doesn’t have to be at our desk, and we don’t have to join a gym to be active! 

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Nicole Bianchi