The Surprising Lessons of Travel

I distinctly remember thinking – when I grow up, I’ll get a job that sends me to all kinds of interesting places around the world. A few years ago, I realized that I had created that job for myself. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for the invitations to speak in so many places around that world over the last few years.

The truth is, the novelty of travel has worn off – yet I still love to go. Here are the top 7 surprising lessons I’ve learned over the last few years of traveling for work in  over a dozen countries:

  1. Changing your environment DOES change your mindset – no matter what concerns or challenges you face at home, when you travel to a different place, you almost immediately get a new perspective. This is not just a shift in your general perspective but a specific change in the way you think about the challenge you face at home.
  2. There’s heart in every place – you’ll have these moments that you’ll never forget in every place – they’re not necessarily where or what you might expect – a place or interaction that put a smile on your face and warmed your heart; a tattoo pallor in Mardrid, a piazza in Rome, a cake shop in Warsaw, a waiter in Latvia, an elderly couple at the next table in Oregon.
  3. You’ll Miss Stuff – the kids concert scheduled long after your travel plans had been confirmed, the spontaneous decision for a few friends to spend a night at the beach – and you’ll miss people when you’re gone. It’s just a part of the commitment and the experience, but the less fun part.
  4. You may not meet anyone interesting at all – of course that depends on you. If you go to a conference, do your talk and then leave straight away. If you assume that everyone else is a learner and you’re the teacher – you won’t have anyone to speak to. If you’re too buy telling your story to listen to others telling you theirs.
  5. It’s up to you to get out & experience the amazing – sometimes your host will go out of their way to take you around, wine and dine you and give you the time of your life. Often they don’t, so you need to do it yourself. Get out and keep moving.  It’s sweet and wonderful to taste new foods, walk the city and get a feel for the place (even if you’ve been there before).
  6. You don’t need to wait for an invitation – for the first few years, I applied to speak at conferences, paid the expenses and didn’t get any fee. Yes, it’s costly so you have to choose wisely but that’s only at the beginning – consider an investment in your business, if you want to be a speaker.
  7. Planes are great places for inspiration – I’ve written some of my best programs, strategic plans and stories on long haul flights. You have to battle the urge to just sleep and watch movies the entire time, but if you can take an hour or two of your flight time and work – it can be really productive.

Bonus surprising lesson – Nothing comes without intention, planning and hard work. The is true of travel for work. It sounds exotic, fascinating, exciting – and it is. But it’s also exhausting, time consuming and simply hard work.

I still love it! I’ve learned to take some buffer time, to recover from travel. And I’ve learned not to complain about the challenging side of it, not to turn a blessing into a curse.

The bottom line – like anything in your business, if you want it, go out and create it. Be intentional, take tiny steps every day and keep focused on what you want. There is nothing you can’t make happen in your business if you’re prepared to figure out how to do it, get the help you need and then work like hell for it. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve. I never imagined that I would become an entrepreneur, yet here I am. And I’m thankful for every minute, every challenge and every opportunity.

So what will you create? Share it here.

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