An Impossible Journey

Thoughts about friendship in the workplace and traveling with co-workers.

When I first heard about Kwamecorp I immediately discarded it as just another innovation agency trying to look cool, boasting big client names and P.O. box addresses around the world.

In defense of my prejudgment, I was currently in a loveless relationship with my dream job. Somehow the passion and hunger started to fade away. Something felt missing, though I couldn’t exactly pinpoint it.

In an attempt to rekindle my professional flame, I decided to take a break and travel to Tokyo for 6 months.

Being on my own, 11.136 km away from my comfort zone, allowed me to detach from my innate patterns and immerse completely into a different culture. It felt as if I had been granted full access to my inner self, along with the freedom to experiment with emotions and reactions, while being exposed to new ideas and challenges. It quickly became a very introspective experience, making me realize that sometimes moving on is required in order to continue growing.

By coincidence, I stumbled across Kwamecorp again during that time. They were sharing a story about their outside-of-the-office working experiences, which they used to call pods. In my mind, a pod was the receptacle which allowed Neo to be reborn and virtually integrated in the Matrix. Sounded exactly like what I needed. This was my red pill. So I requested an interview and quit the job that I loved.

(Not in such dramatic manner, to be fairly honest.)

The entire time until the interview was spent either bugging people around me to pretend they were the CTO of a company that sent off their employees to work from Bali, or daydreaming about actually working in such a company. The picture they had posted on social media was imprinted in my mind. Except in my mind, I was in the picture.

This picture. More on this Creative Healthy Lifestyle experience here.

I was so nervous during the interview that I cannot recall what was talked about, except the moment when Kim, Kwamecorp’s CTO, asked me:

“Are you willing to travel?” I just smiled and said “Yes.”

I got accepted and came back to Lisbon with renewed excitement and motivation. While at Kwamecorp, I was seamlessly introduced to “Creative Healthy Lifestyle”, which essentially describes a way of cultivating work-life balance. It intends to empower people by providing them the tools and environment to grow in, while sharing a great story and using their passions to create a positive impact. Although it’s meant as a part of the company culture on a daily basis, it reaches its’ strongest manifestation through the occasional small getaways, where it is more volatile to the energy of the people who engage in it. I think that occurs because being outside the office pushes co-workers to interact in unfamiliar situations. Some examples are:

. Sharing cramped spaces to sleep in.

. Peacefully (to some extent) cohabiting with ginormous lizards and jumping spiders.

. Scrubbing lime on reef cuts.

. Almost getting struck by lightning while taking shelter under a thatched awning.

. Escaping falling trees and flying tin roofs.

. Breaking surfboards.

Team building.

Having participated in three Creative Healthy Lifestyle escapades so far (France, Bali and Nicaragua), I can vouch for the fact that such, and even the more common daily-life events (like having a meal together), encourage sharing and mutual engagement, allowing people to build trust and meaningful relationships. These deep interpersonal connections in the workplace impact not only happiness but also effectiveness, as friendship fosters cooperation and commitment to common success. Also, being exposed to challenging new experiences requires improvisation, which can boost creativity and cognitive health.

As I see it, Creative Healthy Lifestyle is the Schrödinger’s cat of work-life balance, cultivating a mindset of being constantly at work and never being at work at the same time. This allows teams to clear their minds and come up with creative solutions, as work related discussions are commonplace and arise naturally.

Kim and João discussing pros and cons of wearing the same boardshorts strategy.

At its’ core, Creative Healthy Lifestyle is simply another model aiming to break the ‘9 to 5’ establishment, giving people the freedom to live the life they choose to. In my opinion it differentiates from other similar models by creating balance between being completely caught up in a corporate structure and living as a full-on digital nomad. It gives me the opportunity to expand, dedicate to things I’m passionate about and feed my cultural hunger whilst allowing me to return to my comfort zone and continuing on building support around family and friends.

This experience has taught me that, through acceptance of responsibility for our actions and emotions, we gain power and freedom to shape ourselves and our lives. And in order to foster that change:

Don’t settle. Take chances. Travel.

Like what you read? Give Yolanda a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.