As I mentioned in last week’s note, I am just returning from an extend trip in Australia with my family. This trip reminded me of the many personal and business benefits of travel. In fact, many founders of well-known companies, including Warby Parker and TOMS shoes, have credited travel as the inspiration behind the launch of their companies.
Acceleration Partners recently created a new travel-focused benefit for our employees which requires staying unplugged from work for at least five days. That means no responding to Slack messages, work emails, phone calls, etc. The goal is for them to be truly immersed in their experience. We also recently helped make a few employee’s travel dreams a reality.
I decided to keep track of the benefits I was experiencing from this trip and three major themes emerged from doing so.
- Challenges Comfort Zones
Although most of us know that getting out of our comfort zone is important, many of us struggle to do it regularly. When you travel, you’re pushed out of your comfort zone by default because you’re removed from your regular routine. As such, it becomes easier to try new things which, ultimately, leads to gaining new perspectives.
For example, despite her fears, my daughter scuba dived for the first time at the Great Barrier Reef as she did not want to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She loved it and now, we’re talking about getting certified together.
Similarly, I always said I would never drive on the other side of the road as I thought I would get too overwhelmed and make a critical mistake. Then, at the last minute, we decided to rent a car while in Australia. I was very nervous and cautious at first, but then really enjoyed the experience.
- Turns Off Our Autopilot
Ever drive home and have no idea how you got there? Related to the one above, when your routine is altered by travelling, it takes you off autopilot; the use of your conscious mind is called upon so much more.
On this trip, even walking on the right side of the sidewalk wasn’t taken for granted. I couldn’t get from point A to point B without keeping my head up. The same was true for crosswalks and driving. This awareness led to more observation of what was around me and more presence in each activity, something I realized I need to get better at in my daily life.
- Questions Our Assumptions
When you have a routine of doing something in a certain way, it’s easy to not question whether there is a better or different way to do it. Many deep-rooted assumptions are tested when travelling.
For example, when I tried to tip several people on this trip, they seemed offended or even refused. My friend from Australia explained to me that service employees are generally compensated fairly; many feel that they should simply do their jobs well without the need to be tipped. Also, many casual restaurants were set up so that after you ordered your food and beverage at the bar and found a table, it was brought to you. Not only was this efficient, the bill was already paid when you wanted to leave, which was ideal for a family with tired kids.
That model of prepayment has led me to think about some new business ideas and how it could be applied to our existing business. When you see things being done successfully in ways that differ from what you’re accustomed to, it can make you question the status quo and think about both new problems to be solved and new solution to existing problems.
As you kick off the year, I’d encourage you to make a plan to change your scene or your routine, whether that is through travel, taking a Bucket List trip, or simply changing what you do each day so you can see the world in a different light. Pick a different stop for breakfast/lunch or change how you walk or drive to work. When you do this, you will get off autopilot. At the very least, you’ll experience something new.
Quote of the Week
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”