Travel is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It’s also one of life’s greatest educators.
In the last few years, our family has spent our summers traveling abroad to places like Amsterdam, Paris, and most recently, Italy. The history, art, customs, and food were like a living classroom for all of us. We always came away enriched culturally, and I believe the experience will help shape our daughters’ worldview to be one of broadness and curiosity.
Many of our team members have enjoyed the offerings of foreign destinations such as China, Japan, and South America. All of their collective experiences seems to have given each a greater appreciation for the world around us (and even for the United States, where we call home).
For most people, to see the world through another cultural lens gives the traveler a gift no amount of money could buy (save the cost of a ticket to travel somewhere).
In business, travel offers other benefits, and they can be applied in tangible ways to help your enterprise thrive:
Resourcefulness: As well prepared as one may be, travel hiccups almost always arise, from currency questions, language barriers, or local customs. It takes critical thinking and decision-making skills to find the answers to challenges large and small, and this resourcefulness – the ability to think on your feet – is one of an entrepreneur’s most coveted skills.
Openness: Our world is getting smaller, and the ability to approach these changes with curiosity rather than suspicion opens new doors of opportunity that otherwise may not present themselves. Without openness, entrepreneurs may miss a chance to form partnerships or take calculated risks with big payoffs.
Relationship building: Even if it’s just making small talk with a local shopkeeper in a European market, each encounter is a learning experience in building bridges with someone new. This skill is imperative in order to grow both personally and professionally.
Patience: Many places around the world have a slower pace of life than the manic beat of a major U.S. metropolis. Modern conveniences are more than likely an anomaly in certain places. These are opportunities to appreciate differences and learn about other cultures without hedonistic distractions.
Humility: There are so many places in the world where people have to live their lives without even a tenth of the luxuries we take for granted every day. By glimpsing this reality first-hand, it opens the door to a gratitude mindset based in compassion. Humility makes each of us a better human being, which makes us better entrepreneurs.
Perspective: Travel reminds us that of 7 billion people on the planet, we are each just one soul taking our place and living our individual lives. It helps to not take ourselves so seriously. Such perspective can lift our mood and remind us to appreciate the small things with grace.
Ultimately, our experiences shape us both as people and as business owners. The lessons learned from traveling the world can be some of the most richly instructive experiences we can have – and the wise application of them can also translate into bigger profits.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.