Authenticity Disruption Kindness Mindset Qualities

Wildfires, DNA, and life lessons

We packed our stuff; you never know when you will return and drove away from the fire.

What a week it was.

Our vacation started with spending the night in a different place than planned.

Our rental for the week was not accessible because of wildfires near the house.

We got this message as soon as we landed in Heraklion, Crete.

First thought? Here we go!

Murphy’s law.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

Yes, we had to sleep in a small hotel for our first night, but we also got to enjoy our first taverna for the week on the south side of the island.

The people representing the house were terrific.

They knew this was not the way we wanted to start our vacation. But a backup plan was in place even before we landed.

They kept us informed about the situation, and the next day by noon, we could enter our beautifully designed home for the week.

And continue to enjoy the Greek hospitality that’s rock solid and encapsulated in the DNA of every Greek.

“DNA is the fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something, especially when regarded as unchangeable.”


I’ve worked and vacationed in Greece many times. I was part of a team with many Greeks. I wrote a story about the work part, which you can read here.

Many Greeks are outspoken, like to debate, and do so with passion, energy, and an occasional loud voice.

I call it authentic.

Most Greeks are also generous, friendly, kind, and hospitable.

One of the tavernas embodied this attitude by stating:

“When you’re here, you’re family.”

Taverna Apanemia

And it always felt that way, including the complimentary watermelon, ice cream, sweet, or raki after our meal.

Even the second interruption because of wildfires went smooth.

When we started to see the helicopters picking up water from the sea and noticed the first smoke coming our way, we knew what to do.

We packed our stuff; you never know when you will return and drove away from the fire.

Our contact person confirmed the evacuation and promised to keep us informed again.

We headed north to a nice resort and decided to make the best of it.

Getting out of the area was a little complicated because of a herd of hundreds of sheep using the same road and not always agreeing on the same direction.

Once we knew we were out of any immediate danger, we started to enjoy the trip.

There’s nothing else you can do.

This is an act of god (influenced by lousy human climate control), and it’s certainly not the fault of those who rented us the house.

Getting upset is a waste of energy.


We checked in at a beautiful resort on the north side of the island. We enjoyed the sunset, the wild waves due to the heavy winds, and the excellent food.

The next day we packed up our stuff, did some sightseeing in the north side (which we planned anyway), and returned to our house.

Like the first night, all expenses were covered by our host.

For the remainder of the week, the winds were less, and the fires stayed away.

We saw the fire department patrols in the area and saw the devastation up close. A large area completely blackened with years of recovery ahead of it.

The last days we enjoyed the house, the water, the weather, the food, the people, and our time away as a family.

Everywhere we went, we felt welcomed and appreciated for our business.

Here’s the reason why all this matters to all of us:

During our visit to Matala, we witnessed the quote from local fisherman George painted on the harbor side wall:

“Welcome to Matala. Today is Life. Tomorrow never comes.”

Fisherman George

For forty years, he repainted the quote every year. A local salesperson told me this was how George lived his entire life.

It became the motto of this lovely city and a reminder of our mindset during our week of vacation.

It had been a few years since I’d been in Greece. I promised myself I would return from now on every year.

It’s an inspiring place to be.

Your turn: Today or Tomorrow?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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