“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Mark Twain
I traveled to Europe this past week for work.
After a long Covid hiatus, I've traveled a few times domestically this fall, but this was the first time I've gone abroad in over a year and a half.
I am frequently asked, “What do you do at the top of an S Curve when you are afraid to jump?”
Practice. Disrupting yourself, jumping S Curve's is a muscle to be developed.
I've noticed with our Disrupt Yourself podcast guests that I'm over-indexed on immigrants, probably because someone who has picked up and moved to another country knows how to disrupt themselves.
Traveling is a microcosmic version of immigration and good practice for bigger disruptions. In times past, a person was not considered well-educated until they had spent time broadening their experience in a few places with different languages, cultures, cuisines, and so forth than they were familiar with at home.
The S Curve of travel is familiar to me. I loved being back on an airplane, where time seems suspended. And this was an easy trip in some respects, like language. In Denmark, everyone I spoke to spoke English.
My hotel was next door to the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, which holds the Christus and Twelve Apostles sculpted by Bertel Thorvaldsen. These beautiful, symbolic sculptures reminded me that all of the disruptions in our lives can chip away the waste rock to reveal the beauty within us.
There was also the unfamiliar: incomprehensible conversations all around me conducted in Danish. Narrow, European streets with bicycles everywhere. And many tall people, this is a country where I feel unexpectedly short.
Eating a Toulouse burger—a burger in a bowl—at Halifax Burger. Dinner at NOMA, which was recently voted the world's best restaurant. It has beautiful grounds and all sorts of unexpected food, like wild boar and a pickled quail egg. Another dinner at Llama, Mexican with a Danish twist. As I write in my upcoming book, Smart Growth, food is a LOVE language. I felt a lot of LOVE during this trip.
This time, I brought a work colleague, Chelsea, with me. This is not something I've done often and is a different S Curve than traveling alone. It was nice to get to know her better and a comfort to have someone on my team along for the unfamiliar ride.
Meeting new people, potential friends, and colleagues while speaking at an event provided just some of the many enriching, fascinating, delightful conversations. Traveling changes us, as Mark Twain so eloquently explains. With today's media and ease of communication, travel isn't quite as essential as it was in the 19th century, but change is the purpose of a new S Curve, and travel can meet that need.
So, that's my a-ha. If you want to practice a low-stakes way of jumping to new S Curves, then travel a bit. It doesn't have to be in a different country. A new town, or province, or state can be pretty different than your own. Travel can strengthen the disruption muscle in preparation for making bigger, more challenging, and more permanent changes.
This week, our podcast guest is Tanya Dalton, an inspiring person and productivity expert with a new book, On Purpose, that explores topics like perfectionism, fear, psychology, and bias in the context of our purpose.
She wants all of us to know that when we don't know what's possible (and who really does, anyway), then anything is possible. Please join us.
As always, thanks for being here.
P.S. At the Thinkers50 Gala, November 15-16, I will be in conversation with the wonderful Dan Pink, moderated by Thinkers50 founder Des Dearlove, on the topic of The Purpose of Regret and Disruption: Finding Our Own Purpose and Impact at 10am Eastern, Tuesday, November 16th. If you would like to join the Live Stream for free, here's a link. If you'd like to also listen on the first day, here's that link. The password is T50PARTNER.