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5 Ways Going Abroad Alone Increases Your Performance at Work

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What is your first thought when one of your co-workers decides to take a two-week vacation abroad? Sure, now you have to work overtime in their absence, but would it be worth it if they came back better than ever? At a crossroads in my career, I decided to spend two weeks in South America to gain clarity about what I want to do with my life, and as great as this experience was for my personal growth, I underestimated how much this trip would impact my professional life.

Here are the 5 ways it changed my performance and how it can change your performance too:

1. You Learn to Build Relationships from Nothing

As important as your time alone is for your personal development, finding ways to effectively socialize while abroad is probably your greatest challenge. Solo traveling forces you into uncomfortable situations where you must find common ground with people who speak different languages, have different beliefs, and come from different backgrounds.

Traveling alone gets lonely with minimal socialization, and the way you learn to respond to challenging social moments oftentimes is the personal development you seek when choosing to travel alone.

The ability to introduce yourself to new people and build relationships quickly is a skill that translates immensely at work. Whether you are at a company event, meeting a new employee, or building a relationship with a client, your experience socializing abroad gives you a new confidence in your conversations.

2. You Gain Self-Awareness

When traveling alone, it is a gift and a curse that you make every decision for yourself. You very quickly learn more about the things that you enjoy doing and the ways that you like spending your day. Every decision you make offers immediate feedback that further reveals your priorities and preferences, and from that you gain a new sense of self-awareness.

Although self-awareness can be practiced deliberately, a foreign setting brings about organic opportunities to develop self-awareness through cultural and natural introspection.

Self-awareness is hugely valuable at work because it allows you to be more critical of yourself.  Being in tune with your skillset makes you a more productive and efficient member of your team.

By identifying your capabilities in different areas, you can focus on your role and add value in the way that is optimized for you. The first step is to understand more about yourself and what you offer, and travel is a great way to hone in on exactly that.

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” – Marcus Aurelius

3. You Learn How to Take Ownership of Poor Results

When sharing any experience with another person, the blame, guilt, pride or triumph dilutes into the entire group. When traveling alone, however, everything that happens is directed back at you, and you are responsible for every consequence of the decisions you make. You must learn to take ownership of your own mistakes when abroad, and learn to manage negative situations proactively.

In the workplace, accepting fault is especially important because blame is a huge source of conflict, and can greatly affect your office relationships along with your team’s willingness to work with you.

Taking ownership might be a source of immediate animosity, but serves well in the long-term because it builds a foundation that will help you overcome issues that arise in the future.

On a personal development note, when perceiving the error as your own, you assume the role of correcting the system that caused the error and gain experience as an individual while setting the company up for success moving forward.

4. You Learn How to Problem Solve Independently

I’d be remiss to not mention that traveling alone is stressful. You need to navigate public transportation, manage travel itineraries, and book all accommodations, which is not easy to do solo. Nonetheless, this challenge is valuable, because it makes you practice new skills in a high-stakes environment along with growing a sense of autonomy.

Independent problem solving is an irreplaceable skill in business, and being capable of finding an answer to a tough question on your own saves your team from unneeded distractions. Alternatively, when a peer presents you with a difficult and important problem to solve, you now have more faith in your ability to come up with a creative solution.

The skill of solving problems for yourself is an asset at work, and can develop quickly when being alone while abroad.

“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” – Duke Ellington

5. You Learn to Trust Your Own Impressions

As a solo-traveler, you have a lot of time to internalize everything you experience. Although I do suggest everyone keep a journal while they are traveling, your impressions are limited to your own vantage point. With this limited input, you begin to value your own instincts more than you did before.

In your job, trusting your own impressions will increase your productivity at work by accelerating your work-flow. Certain projects require that you just move forward, and instead of second guessing yourself, you will have more confidence that you can handle the task. Time abroad brings a new-found confidence in difficult situations that will manifest in all areas of your life.

Outside of the unmatchable personal exploration you experience while traveling alone, you develop certain traits that prove to be extremely beneficial in a professional setting. By learning to build better relationships, gain self-awareness, take ownership of poor results, solve problems on your own, and trust your own impressions, traveling abroad hands you a polished set of skills that can deployed upon your return.

Where do you want to travel to and why? Let us know where you want to go in the comments below!

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Brian Ford is a former Division 1 college soccer player and standout scholar-athlete at UC Davis.  Having studied neurobiology and psychology, Brian completed 2 years in medical device sales where he provided consultative support for spine surgeons in the operating room.  More interested in applying his scientific background in a business setting, Brian will soon begin working for an exciting Silicon Valley biotech startup as the Director of Marketing and Sales while earning his MBA from Santa Clara University.  Brian is the host and founder of the Top-Rated Amazon Alexa Flash Briefing “Self Improvement Daily”, and continues to manage a local community service organization he created in college.  Brian is motivated to have a large social impact with everything he does, and the best way to follow his progress is on LinkedIn.

Life

4 Lies You Keep Telling Yourself When You’re Afraid to Do Something

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When’s the last time you let fear get the better of you? Whether we want to admit it or not, fear keeps us from doing a lot of the things we know we really should do to achieve our goals. Fear is especially detrimental to entrepreneurs (read ‘wantrepreneurs’) that want to launch their first big project. (more…)

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Tips, Tools, and Techniques to Create Your Curiosity

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Curiosity is a great characteristic that people rarely sustain in their lifetimes. Some people struggle to sustain curiosity because of their internal and external challenges. They cannot encourage curiosity to come to the fore as they condition their mindsets with their learning, experience, and environment. However, there are very few individuals who sustain their curiosity levels throughout their lives to excel as extraordinary achievers.  (more…)

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Life

5 Life Tips You Didn’t Know You Needed to Hear

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Life is a battleground, we need to keep fighting until our appointed time on earth comes. So, in this post, you will see the best of the best life tips you have never heard before. These tips are life-changing and can change you immediately. Let’s go!

1. Be independent 

Hundreds of millions of people make this mistake. We depend on people like us. “he will get it done for me, she will get it done for me”. You rely heavily on people and guess what, you are making a big mistake. 

There are a lot of people that have helped others and perhaps time changes for them, they become poor and rely on the people they have helped, guess what comes out at the end of this reliance? Disappointment, promises backed by failures, etc. 

Who are you depending on? Who is that person you can’t do without when getting things in your life done? If there is anyone, you are making a big mistake. And starting today, all you have to do is add a prefix – what if!

What if my friend stops helping me, what if I get disappointed by people I trust with my life, what if they neglect me and turn me down”.

A man or woman that depends on people like him is equal to a feeble pillar holding the four corners of a house. What happens when the feeble pillar falls? The man’s house falls down super-flat. Your trust should only be in Jesus. Man can fail us at any time but God is always faithful till his Kingdom comes. 

2. Love your neighbor as yourself 

The gravity of this word is enough to shatter the whole earth into pieces. 

Only if the whole world just kept this simple commandment Christ Jesus gave then, there will be no murders, poverty, greediness, anger, envy, betrayal, disappointment, etc. 

Why are there such things in the world? Because we hate ourselves. As long as you are fine all is well. You care about yourself only, selfish, you have and yet you cannot give. 

Those are the characteristics of over 90% of the 7.6 billion humans on earth. Why can’t you do to others what you would have them do to you? Why can’t you help that suffering neighbor who needs food? Then, a lot of people will say 

“Go away from here beggar, what did you do with your youth, I can’t give you a dime, beggar”. Why are we so cruel? This is the best tip you must dear to your heart. 

No matter what you have, no matter how little or in whatever way you can help. Help people, show them love, love them as you love yourself. Don’t forget this, today’s beggar, uneducated, debtor, poor person, etc can later become the greatest person in the world tomorrow. 

“Don’t settle for what life gives you; make life better and build something.” — Ashton Kutcher

3. Have a growth mindset

A growth mindset is what makes one successful and go far in life. However, a fixed and stagnated mindset throws one into jeopardy of life.

A lot of people have a fixed mindset, what they believe is what they believe, nothing you say on earth can change their mindset, they are the most educated in the world so they don’t need to learn any further. Did you have a fixed or growth mindset?

A growth mindset leads to success, achievements, happiness, learning more, and becoming better. On the other hand, a fixed mindset leads to complacency, pride, lack of achievement, ignorance, the stagnancy of the mind, etc. 

Let’s see an example of someone with a fixed mindset:

Cait tells Alice: Alice stop being so proud it’s annoying. 

And Alice responds:

“How dare you say I am proud, I am not. I am the most humble woman on earth”. In the example, Alice with a fixed mindset has a fixed mindset. However, what she does not know is that she is in the darkness of her ignorance. She is ignorant of the fact that she is a proud person thus, she can’t see it. 

People with a fixed mindset are ignorant. You must never have a fixed mindset. Always be willing to learn and to grow with humility. Pride can take you nowhere. 

4. Forgive everyone and give as many second chances as you can  

A lot of people have done all they could to be happy and have peace. But, they find out that happiness is not just there and that peace of mind is absent. 

Why is that? It is because you have a lot of grudge against people that have offended you. Yes, we know, it pained you to your heart, and what next? Keep malice? But, do you know what that unforgiveness does to you?

I call it the seed of unforgiveness because it plants a seed in your heart and this seed further grows to become hatred, depression, lack of freedom, zero peace, etc. 

If in only one person’s heart are all these things, then a person like that can never know peace and happiness. For example, if you were to go to a party with your friends and you hear that perhaps the other friend that you keep malice with is coming to the same party. 

Naturally, the only thing you would think of is not going to the party anymore because you want to avoid the person at all costs. And what does that add to you? It doesn’t add instead, it subtracts from your life because you could have gone to the party, had fun, and even have new friends or even new opportunities.

If not for anything will you forgive people, forgive them for the sake of God, for the sake of Christ Jesus. Because if you cannot forget the trespass of people, don’t expect God to forgive you. Forgive everyone, give them as many second chances as possible. 

Mind you, they can still mess up and make terrible mistakes all you have to do is keep forgiving them. This may not be so easy to the flesh. However, it is only The Spirit of God that can make you forgive the trespass of people. Without The Holy Spirit, it is impossible to do so. 

5. Love God

Do you love God? Are you a child of God? Do you believe in Christ Jesus? Even if the rest of the tips on these lists do not resonate with you, I want you to hold this very important to your heart which is to Love God with all your heart, soul, and strength.

And you can do that only by being a child of God. This life is too short. It is like a vapor, it is nothing. Life is more like an empty barrel that makes noise. You will grow old, your strength will leave you and you will die but, what happens after that? Where are you going to spend the rest of your eternity? 

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Life

Explore Stoicism to Lead Your Life With Purpose and Meaning

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With the advent of technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR), there is increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity globally. People find it challenging to predict where the technology will take them to the next level. They are excited with the innumerable advantages arising from automation and artificial intelligence but they are equally concerned about the threats arising out of them. Precisely, humans are caught between peace and prosperity. (more…)

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