Friends, travelers, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to tell you why I’ve written The Traveler’s Edge, not to praise it (although I hope in your hearts it is praiseworthy). My answer might surprise you. The idea for the book did not stem from travel, but rather from the question of how we (myself included) can be more successful.
How do we become more successful in our lives and our careers? It’s a big question with a lot of answers. I found that one of the most compelling, well researched, and comprehensive collections of guidance for success was assembled by Leon Ho, the Founder and CEO of Lifehack (which is itself a community dedicated to individuals seeking self-improvement). After researching thousands of books, articles, and findings, he summarized his work into thirteen core principles to succeed:
- Think big.
- Find what you love to do and do it.
- Learn how to balance life.
- Do not be afraid of failure.
- Have an unwavering resolution to succeed.
- Be a person of action.
- Avoid conflicts.
- Don’t be afraid of introducing new ideas.
- Believe in your capacity to succeed.
- Always maintain a positive mental attitude.
- Don’t let discouragement stop you from pressing on.
- Be willing to work hard.
- Be brave enough to follow your intuition.
It’s tough to take issue with any of the principles; they certainly resonate and feel like things we should do to succeed.
But after reading Leon’s strategies (and hundreds of others similar success frameworks), I was left with the same question: How? How do you get from here to there?
My quest through the research for my book The Traveler’s Edge was to confirm what my gut told me: the how is through mindful and intentional travel. I feel stronger in that belief now than I did at the beginning of my journey.
The Traveler’s Edge is designed to showcase how travel can help you to:
- Spark your creativity;
- Expand your perspective;
- Increase your confidence;
- Acquire new skills;
- Improve your wellness;
- Build your network; and
- Deepen your spirituality.
(And it will outline how to do each of these things whether you’re traveling for study, work or leisure — even if you’re traveling in your own backyard.)
There is a multitude of scientific studies to back up these claims — which I will dive into in the book — but all of this is intuitive and only makes more sense the more you think about it. It makes sense that your creativity grows when you are exploring new environments and your brain reacts to new inputs.
It makes sense that you will gain perspective when you see different parts of the world and experience it as other people do. It makes sense that you will gain confidence the more you step away from your safety net and find success outside of your routine. It makes sense that you will be healthier physically and mentally when you spend your time exploring instead of shuttling between your desk and your bed. It makes sense that you will find your personal world has gotten bigger when you expose yourself to more people and places. And it makes sense that you’ll feel more spiritually connected when you open yourself up to the world at large.
Now, it’s important to note that I’m encouraging mindful and intentional travel as a tool to increase your success in your career and your life.
This means that travel can be mindless and without intention. That doesn’t make it bad travel per se, just not necessarily the travel that’ll improve your chances of success. Think of that travel as the traditional business trip where you never step outside the work bubble (you go from flight to cab to hotel brand to office and back). It’s travel, but it’s also not travel at all — more like the same old job in front of a green screen showing new backdrops. The same can be said of a vacation at a resort, or a vacation spent doing a narrow band of tourist-friendly activities. These trips can be relaxing and enjoyable, but again may not be intentional or mindful — the travel equivalent of going to a restaurant and ordering the same dish you cook at home.
Travel can be an advantage when it’s more than just a “vacation.”
The majority of people view travel as a reward for their hard work or a way to get away from the stresses of “the real world.” I believe that travel is the real world. Many people will have travel to some country or another on their “bucket list” — a phrase that creates a sense of nebulousness and lack of immediacy. I contend that you should move travel from your “bucket list” to the top of your “to-do list.”
I will state it outright: it is a mistake to hold off on that life-changing trip that you’ve been dreaming about. The earlier you travel the better.
If you had the option to make yourself a better person, would you wait until later in your life to do it? There is a reason people have thirteen or more years of education at the start of their lives; what would be the benefit of waiting to learn later? The earlier you learn a skill, the better; and travel teaches you countless valuable skills.
The experiences that travel brings will not only help you grow as an individual, but also help you build a more fulfilling and financially stable life for yourself. It is an investment in your present and future. And it is never too early or too late to go out into the world because each time you do it may bring new lessons.
Some folks say that all they need is a weekend away to feel their creative juices flowing. Some contend that you need long-term travel, or to relocate entirely, in order to feel the benefit. Others believe that you need to challenge yourself. Most would agree that a weekend of partying in Cancun won’t do anything other than kill some brain cells and make your liver want to pack its bags for its own vacation. I am here to tell you that any and all those things can be true.
Like most things in life, the benefits from travel depend on entirely how present you are in your situation, what you choose to do, and how you choose to do it. If you are open to trying new things and being out of your element, then creativity and inspiration are not far behind. Even if you are not, I firmly believe that with enough time, traveling can help you grow into that person.
The book is a collection of stories and life lessons from successful individuals; some of them I know personally, or have long been aware of, and others I’ve only discovered through research for this book. Some of their names will sound very familiar, and others are complete strangers. All of these people share a common thread.
They’ve all changed — for the better — because of travel.
Over the next weeks, I’m going to be sharing excerpts and stories from my book, The Traveler’s Edge: How to Use Travel as Your Unfair Advantage in Business and Life in this blog series. Each week I will be covering a different attribute (creativity, perspective, confidence, new skills, wellness, network, and spirituality) that you can level up through travel.
If you’d like to get a copy, you can order it on Amazon. If you want to connect, you can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Instagram @thestandbyguy. I would love to hear your feedback so please let me know what you think!
And regardless, thanks for taking this journey with me. I hope it’s the first of many.