At 23 I set out on a cross-country road trip by myself.
I couldn’t tell you why I needed to do it, I just FELT something deep inside me calling me forward.
I had to listen.
So I did.
The first night was in New Orleans, and it was extremely difficult. The hostel was dirty, the people were a little weird, and I couldn’t help but feel I made a major mistake.
My expectations didn’t fit with reality. I jumped into the deep end without even dipping my toes in the water.
“What am I doing?!” I thought.
That was night one. As far as I was concerned I just made the biggest mistake of my life. Thousands of miles from home, I swallowed my sadness and (barely) got to sleep in my scorching-hot room.
It’s sad, right?
Yeah, I guess, but it also marks the first time I really took a risk in my life on my own.
The day after that was easier, and so was the next day, until finally I found myself walking down Bourbon Street with a ton of new friends that Saturday night.
Yeah, this introvert was doing that!
Confidence Can Be Learned
That first week in New Orleans taught me something. It showed me that leaping into the pool is always the hardest part, and that it’s only afterwards we get used to the temperature.
I recently spoke with another pair of Digital Nomads named Leila Mezoughi and Gelareh Darvish about this same topic.
“Through your travels you were able to increase your self-confidence,” they said.
“For example, simply getting on a plane to a new place can be daunting at first, but when we do it and “handle it” we increase our self confidence.
Traveling thrusts new situations in your way every day. These situations show you parts of your character that you didn’t realize existed, and you prove to yourself that you are more courageous than you first thought.”
Risk Taking Reveals Who We Really Are
I remember that scene in Lion King when Simba sees his Father in the sky.
Mufasa tells Simba to “remember” who he is, and that he is more than he’s become. It sets up a pretty daunting moment for Simba, who has to decide whether he’ll take the risk and return to Pride Rock for the very first time.
In the end we all know what happens — Timon and Pumba do the hula, somehow a rock catches on fire, and Simba finally becomes King (which is good because he really couldn’t wait).
In order for Simba to become King, he had to take the risk.
As Leila and Gelareh said above, risk taking is really the best way to find ourselves, because it forces us to adapt to new situations.
How could we know how we’d handle a cross-country road trip if we had never done it?
Pushing the envelope and putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations is kind of like doing some sort of a Vision Quest, where we come out the other side just a little bit more enlightened about ourselves.
“I Can Handle It!”
How do you take risks?
Just trust that you can handle it. How many other times in your life have you trusted that shit will work out?
How about when you drove your car for the first time, or went on your first flight, or even asked someone out to Homecoming?
“Ultimately, it comes down to having the mindset of “I can handle it!” When we have this mindset, we become braver, we take bigger risks and we become a lot more present.
When we are present — we are without worry of past or future consequences and we start to fully live in the moment, going for things with bravery and conviction. It’s a liberating place to be!”
-Gelareh and Leila
Living In The Moment Is Essential
Ahh, so there’s the rub.
When we’re in that magical place called the present we aren’t busy overthinking things — we just do them.
We are fully ourselves.
It all stems from telling ourselves that we can handle it and believing that to our core. As soon as a bad thought comes into our minds we need to zap it with:
“I can handle it!”
Surround Yourself With Risk Takers And Watch What Happens
One final piece of advice from Leila and Gelareh was to watch who you surround yourself with.
“The other crucial factor is the change in environment,” they said.
“You were probably in an environment surrounded by people that embrace bravery and risk taking — therefore in this supportive culture you were much more confident and comfortable to express this daring version of yourself.”
And what about when we surround ourselves with the opposite? Maybe we aren’t taking many risks because we aren’t around the right people.
If you want to become a better version of yourself, you need to get around some A-players who aren’t afraid to fail. Put yourself in crazy situations and watch how you take it.
It’ll be a lot easier to take risks when you’re with a bunch of other people who love pushing the envelope, too.
And that’s really the thinking behind Leila and Gelareh’s program for Digital Nomads. They’ve doubled down on cultivating the “I Can Handle It!” thinking while also providing an environment for risk takers to network with others.
“These two factors are the drivers behind the modern nomad’s program — supporting people to build the “I can handle it” mindset in business by immersing them in an environment full of adventure, encouraging them to move beyond their fears, and really get them to know the best version of themselves.”
Given the fact that they’ve already had a successful first retreat, I’d say they know what they’re doing and their formula can work for anybody.
I am a full-time Digital Nomad and travel quite a bit. If you want to learn how to work wherever you want, download my ebook called “You Work Where?”