Merge's Blog

Approach travel (and leadership) with an open-mind

TravelA couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a statement made by Paulo Coelho, celebrated Brazilian lyricist and author, that was quoted by the valedictorian at my niece’s high school graduation. Since then I have been reading some more of Coehlo’s work, and one of his blog posts caught my attention, primarily because it illustrates, eloquently, something that I believe in passionately myself — that it’s critically important for a leader to have an open-mind and be accepting of continuous learning. Since we are presently in the throes of summer (at least those of us who live in the northern hemisphere) which often leads to thoughts of travel, it seems only appropriate to share Coelho’s article titled My top 9 travel tips. In summary, here they are:

  1. Avoid museums. His reason: it’s far more interesting to focus on the present rather than on the past.
  2. Hang out in bars. Not nightclubs, but the places ordinary people go. So that you can learn from the locals.
  3. Be open. To what locals can tell you about what they love most in their city.
  4. Try to travel alone or with just one other person, but not in a group. His logic – that is the only way you can truly leave your own country behind. The danger of staying with the group is that you will speak your native tongue, eat what you always eat, do what the group does. And you will miss out on the uniqueness of where you are.
  5. Don’t compare. Anything – prices, standards of hygiene, quality of life, means of transport – nothing! His point: you are not traveling in order to prove that you have a better life than other people; your goal is to find out how other people live, what they can teach you, how they deal with reality and with the extraordinary.
  6. Understand that everyone understands you. Even if you don’t speak the language, you will find support, guidance and useful advice; don’t be afraid to get out and explore.
  7. Don’t buy too much. You can gets products on the Internet; spend your money on experiences such as tickets, restaurants, local encounters.
  8. Don’t try to see the world in the shortest time possible; far better to stay in a city for four or five days than to visit five cities in a week.
  9. A journey is an adventure. Enjoy the freedom of looking for something that you don’t quite know what, but which, if you find it, will change your life.

As I read through his nine tips, it struck me that they all celebrated the importance of seeking out opportunities to learn, and perhaps more importantly, keeping an open-mind. I have always felt that one of the true joys of travel is the opportunity to learn how different people utilize different ways to achieve the same objectives. Not unlike what a leader should be doing in his/her organization. True, some of Coelho’s nine tips resonated with me more than others, but I couldn’t completely disagree with any.

So … what do you think? Do you agree with Coelho’s nine tips? More importantly, what lessons can we carry over into our roles as leaders? Would love to hear whether this connected with you as much as it did with me?

P.S. For my readers in the northern hemisphere, hope your summer is awesome!

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