What do you do to get away from the daily grind?
Because how you answer the question determines the longevity of how long you last as a leader. There's nothing wrong with putting your head down and working hard. There's nothing wrong with creating a leadership culture that supports one another. There's nothing wrong with being able to report to your authority that things are on the rise.
But there is something wrong when you never leave. I think the common phrase for this is "addiction." We don't talk about "leadership addiction" all that much but it exists. The reason we don't talk about it is because those with "leadership addiction" are the most likely to succeed. Their output is so much higher than their peers with whom they're measured against but it similar to being really gifted at building the biggest sand castles; it's impressive but it doesn't take much to bring the whole thing down.
I was absolutely addicted when I first became a leader. Which, makes a lot of sense because most of my identity was wrapped up in being seen as a good leader. And we should want to be good leaders, we should want to be great leaders but there is a balance if we still want to be leading in 10 years.
This is where travel becomes an important part of a leader's life. I discovered travel is one of the best things I can do to keep me in the arena of leadership. As you grow up, add numbers to your family, and your responsibilities increase travel becomes harder. And the worse way to travel is incurring debt because it makes your life heavier instead of lighter. So, travel requires commitment, budgeting, accomplishing goals, and the the discipline to leave work behind.
I've discovered the three following things about travel increase my longevity as a leader:
1. Adds Adventure to My Life - There is greater fulfillment to be had than success. Traveling increases our sense of adventure. Going to places we've never been, not knowing or being able to control the outcome can build us as stronger leaders. We simply have to enjoy the process. And this is good for those of us who are output control freaks. This kind of trust in the process reminds us that life is more enjoyable when we live "in the process" and not in the results.
2. Creates Space for Reflection in My Life - As a leader, I see things more clearly when I get away. Most leaders have their head down because of their work ethic. Again, nothing is wrong with that until our head is down so much we haven't seen what else is happening around us. Travel stops the work. Travel allows me to be step out of the work space and survey it from a new perspective. I can see places that need my attention or places I am killing by over-working. Travel makes us get away and reflect, which is vitally important to your longevity as a leader.
3. Moments are Made - As great as work is, working too much was the number 2 regret by the dying according to the article in the Huffington Post. This is a goal around our house, "Let's collect moments, not more things." The investment in travel is worth the moments. It's undeniable, the moments you will remember the most in your family and friends have probably happened while traveling. These moments make us more fulfilled people, which makes us better leaders to be around. They also give us the opportunity to be great story tellers and people love to be around great story tellers.
Travel is important.
So what do you need to do be a better traveler this year? Do you have a list of places you want to go? Do you subscribe to companies that provide travel deals like Travelzoo's Top 20 travel deals or Southwest Airlines Click and Save fares? The opportunity to see the world is not as expensive or difficult as we tend to make it out to be. More than likely, we simply don't make traveling a priority and that is our biggest challenge.