Personal Writing

Life lessons learned in Bath, England

Last month, I successfully led two (re)Discover Your Spark travel experiences in Bath, England. I co-led a couples one with Dr Marry and led an individual one “by myself” (see the second to last lesson to learn how not alone I really was).

After some time to reflect, I’ve realized much of what I learned are actually valuable life lessons. Here they are:

Embrace the Rule of 95/5

The book Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara talks about the Rule of 95/5: “Manage 95% of your business down to the penny; spend the last 5% ‘foolishly.’ It sounds irresponsible; in fact, it’s anything but. Because that last 5% has an outsize impact on the guest experience, it’s some of the smartest money you’ll ever spend” (46). 

Simply offering a trip to a foreign country might not be enough to entice people these days. We made every aspect of the (re)Discover Your Spark experience memorable, but small details, like a homemade English fry up breakfast, don’t make a trip unforgettable.

One of my secret weapons for all in-person Spark experiences is my son *Quinn, an exceptional mixologist and past Spark participant. He created signature Spark cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages for each experience, including a custom simple syrup for morning tea and coffee.

We also created casual Spark Nightcap events each evening, where everyone gathered to talk about the day, get to know each other better and enjoy simple food and beautiful custom-made cocktails.

Quinn serving up a Spark Nightcap cocktail in the garden of our beautiful house in Bath.

Quinn’s care in creating brand new cocktails takes a simple plate of cheeses and crackers to a completely different place. The way he talks about the inspiration and the ingredients both delights and informs guests and invites them into conversation with him and each other.

Bringing Quinn to England was expensive, but absolutely worth it. His care in creating new cocktails and engaging with guests created a truly unique and exceptional experience. In fact, the Spark nightcap events are the number one positive comment I’ve received about the entire experience.

Enjoying Quinn’s NA Burrata Spritz as we kick off the (re)Discover Your Spark couple’s experience.

*For tips, inspiration and recipes, follow Quinn’s mixology journey on QDVdrinks.

Rely on your strengths and past experience

When attempting something new, ensure you have enough elements you’re certain of and leverage your personal strengths.

I have extensive experience planning events and had organized two large trips to England in 2022 and 2023. Plus, Dr Marry and I had been to Bath in 2020. This background reduced much of the anxiety about pulling these two events off.

I’m a “dreamer move quickly to doer” type. Once I’m on board with an idea, it’s almost always only a matter of minutes to days before I have the entire event planned and am ready to promote it. That’s a strength in terms of taking on an audacious plan like inviting people, perhaps strangers, to join me in Bath, England, at a house I was dependent on AirBnB’s photos and reviews of, for a retreat I hadn’t held in more than two years and in a format that was entirely new.

Trust that you are doing enough

In the dark hours of night, when you wake up in a cold sweat because you’re attempting something new, it’s important to trust your first instincts about the plan.

That’s not to say you can’t continue to tweak your agenda or work, but don’t throw out your initial instincts to attempt to assuage anxiety and imposter syndrome’s heavy grasp.

When I started planning the trip, I purposefully didn’t jam pack the days with events and activities. I left a lot of free time for people to have down time, visit attractions, stroll through the city, etc.

As we got closer to the actual event, I started to panic. What if I wasn’t doing enough? What if people felt like I had charged too much money for what I was providing?

But I stuck with my first instinct and kept the agenda open.

The free time allowed participants to follow their own curiosity, make new discoveries and connect with others, enhancing their experience.

Share your idea to hear new perspectives

When developing a new project, sharing your ideas can provide valuable insights.

When I first started talking about this experience, my friend Marcie said, “I can see how inspiring the architecture of Bath Abbey could be for someone to discover a new Spark.”

The awe-inspiring interior of the stunning Bath Abbey.

This comment shifted my perspective and helped me integrate the beauty, architecture and history of Bath into the Spark experience much more actively.

Have a Dr Marry on board

That header’s a little bit tongue in cheek, but I can’t overstate the importance of having someone who takes care of the behind-the-scenes details that no one notices…unless they aren’t being taken care of.

Dr Marry played a significant role in the success of these two experiences.

Beyond co-leading the couple’s experience, when the eight women arrived, he stepped in in ways I hadn’t thought to anticipate. He became the most over-educated sous chef as we prepared breakfasts each morning. He was an efficient and cheerful busser after meals—clearing all the dishes, filling and emptying the dishwasher, making endless pots of tea and more. He carried luggage up and down stairs, ran to the grocery story for last minute supplies, answered navigation questions and so much more.

Dr Marry spent an incredible amount of time filling that kettle in our days in Bath. Both he and Quinn were excellent care takers of us during the individual experience.

There’s no way I could have done what I did, could have engaged with the participants so fully and been so present without Dr Marry, and Quinn, to step in and take on those less-than-glamorous service roles.

When all is said and done, have fun!

Putting on events, launching new programs, starting a business…taking whatever leap you’re considering taking is never easy, but regardless the work it requires, you better be able to say it was fun to do or what in the world is the point?

I was “on” from the days leading up to us leaving for England to the hours after we said goodbye to the last participant at a train station in London. While I might not have done much physical labor, it was a tremendous mental lift to juggle all those event balls while also being present, fostering relationships and creating an experience that was worthy of people’s time and money.

Needless to say, I was exhausted when it was all over.

But, nearly four weeks later, I still have a smile on my face because it was extraordinary to see my dream of an international (re)Discover Your Spark experience come to fruition. In fact, I’m already planning next year’s Spark experience (see below to learn more).

Over to you

Where can you consider and incorporate one or more of these lessons into your work and personal life?

  • Embrace the Rule of 95/5
  • Rely on your strengths and past experience
  • Trust that you are doing enough
  • Share your idea to hear new perspectives
  • Have a Dr Marry on board
  • When all is said and done, have fun!

Send me a note—I’d love to hear what you’re thinking.

Here’s to trying something new and learning from it, too!

Want to be the first to know about next year’s (re)Discover Your Spark experiences? Sign up for my newsletter, which is where I’ll launch the details very soon. There will be a significant discount for early bird registrants!

Lead photo caption and credit: Bath at night by Shyla Thompson

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *