How can travel make you a better business leader?

Right after completed my MBA last year, I decided to take on the world trip by myself. My purpose is pushing myself out of comfort zone and be agile to brand new environment.

After visiting 15 countries, 27 cities, the learning during the journey has been tremendously rewarding. These are four areas I have reflected throughout my trip. Hopefully, it could give you some sparks of good ideas.

1.Push beyond your comfort zone.

Be comfort with the uncomfortable as uncertainty is the only certainty. Travel has given me greater tolerance to risk by forcing me to step out of my comfort zone. Camping in the Alps Mountains or trekking through the jungle is far removed from the creature comforts of Western life, but it’s these experiences that build the tolerance to risk and have allowed me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. As a business leader, I like to be a little uncomfortable at all times.In fact, I’m always pushing my team to be just a bit out of our comfort zone, because I never want us to sit back and stop innovating. The challenge we are experiencing today is going to become the strength we have tomorrow. The moment we stop growing, it is the moment we are out of the game.

2. Outstanding leadership means creating a community.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I have taken from my travels is that leadership is about building a community. Rather than the old style of leadership where the captain leads his troops into battle, I believe leadership as building a collective of minds and hearts. It’s not what you can do, but how you can influence a group of people with your believe and actions. Through my travels to Europe countries, I have seen how businesses have rallied together to achieve a common goal. Employees and business owners are bounded together by a common set of value and believe. Those value and belief are like constitution law, carried through generations. Products and service within the businesses are the byproducts reflecting those organisational values. The values-driven organizations are more than ever demanded in the current economy.

3.Communication is more about language. 

Strangers are just the friends we have not met yet.Building connection is shifting focus to others instead of myself.  Traveling alone is a bit similar to starting up business by yourself: you look for various ways to build connections. The good news is: there are people everywhere! I made so many new friends just by talking to Uber drivers, tour guides, and the local coffee shops. I have found: regardless of culture and language, we fundamentally have similar desire to connect and communicate.

4.Appreciate diversity.

Experiencing other cultures inspired me to open my mind to different ways of thinking. In the business climate, the growth mindset could enable you open to people who think differently. The same pattern of thinking that has gotten us to where we are now will not get us to where we want to go.Travel opens your mind to think of new possibilities and new ways you can do things.When you go to countries that govern their lives so differently and have different modes of thinking, you take those influences and bring them back to the reality of your life. Understand and appreciate the diversity and cultivate business structure to be agile towards diversity.

One final thought: traveling is not the only way to learn about other cultures and discover your decisions making patterns. However, I believe traveling is one of the most effective ways to invest in yourself, and it is a powerful guiding force to enforce business leaders develop the “response-ability” to thrive in the ever-changing business environment today.

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