Abel Travis

Why traveling makes me a better leader.

Oftentimes, I reflect on the places that I’ve visited throughout the world and realize that I’ve gained a world of experiences that I can leverage in my day to day environment.  Being able to travel has enabled my ability to utilize these experiences and made me a much better leader than I would have been without them.

Ever found yourself in the middle of an international city, where you don’t speak or read the language?  Have you had to negotiate your way to your hotel, pay the fee, catch a taxi, and engage with people from completely different cultural backgrounds in that city?

In that one example, you had to communicate in a way that satisfies both you and the person you are interacting with.  You had to deploy problem solving skills to determine how to get from point a. to point b.  Not to mention, there are many combinations of things that could occur divergent from what’s been planned.  This will force you to improvise and develop an alternative solution.

One of the biggest benefits traveling helps you gain is understanding and a broader perspective.  I often engage with people whose native language may not be similar to my own.  Others may have a sense of frustration when they are unable to clearly understand the communication.  I’ve been on both sides of the coin.  I’ve negotiated my may through discussions which I did not speak the native language and was not easily understood.  Because of this, I know that while others may become frustrated, I must convey that the world is much bigger than my understanding of it, and I must adjust to engage beyond my comfort zone.

This enhanced cultural awareness enabled me to learn about diversity beyond what I understood diversity to be.  As a leader, you must take into consideration all perspectives in addition to your social norm as diverse perspectives typically leads to better outcomes.  If you mix flour with more flour what do you get?  Now mix in butter, sugar, yeast, eggs, water, and oil.  You have something more than flour, a cake.  Leaders must be able to balance the experiences and the expertise of everyone on their teams to create the result the better results that drive cohesiveness, and growth. When you travel, understanding these perspectives becomes more pronounced so being able to work within them becomes all the more important.

Seeing these different perspectives can inspire innovation, by exposing you to things you may not even considered.  Not only will it generate new ways of thinking, but it will push you beyond what you consider as your comfort zone.  I grow when I learn new things, and when I do things that make me a bit uncomfortable.  Traveling drives that perspective, and pushes you to reconsider just defaulting to the norm.

Get out, travel, get inspired.  When you return use your experiences to become a better leader.

~Abel Travis

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