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“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts; it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you–it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body.”
Resumes rarely feature a person’s travel experience and employers hardly take a second to question it. Travel widens our horizons, builds character, and develops skills organically. If you are a traveler, be sure to highlight this. If you are an employer, consider how travel experience can imply critical skills required of a top performer. Here are 10 reasons why travelers, particularly long-term and frequent travelers, make excellent job candidates and are better equipped for their professional pursuits.
1. They are self-aware. An infinitely more complex quality than it sounds—self-awareness can only be learned through exploration, and not taught. Like an inner compass, it is an essential building block for leadership skills. Travel offers experiences and downtime for people to reflect, uncover their strengths and weaknesses, ruminate over their personal values, and understand what’s important to them plus what motivates them.
2. They thrive in ambiguity. In today’s mercurial economy, the ability to do well in uncertainty is paramount. The inherent chaos of travel trains travelers to navigate change with ease and grace, gradually increasing their capacity to adapt the self to meet the demands of the environment. Travelers become well-versed in going with the flow and changing plans on the go; this can be a good indicator of how they will approach changes in the workplace.
3. They have strong willpower. Success often comes down to choosing the pain of determination over the ease of distraction. From long transit to backbreaking hikes and juggling with financial needs, travelers know how to bite the bullet, face mind-numbing activities or strenuous challenges head-on, so as to receive bigger rewards later. Broadly speaking, having strong willpower also encompasses discipline, patience, and knowing how to delay gratification.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
4. They possess high learning agility. While learning is important if we want to keep up with just about anything in life, unlearning is what enables us to truly adapt to change and remain relevant in our career. To learn something that aligns with what we already know isn’t difficult; the pivotal factor is acquiring new skills or perspectives that don’t fit with our understanding of the world or don’t measure up to our assumption. Travelers are prolific learners, unlearners, and relearners. They are constantly learning about themselves, other people, new cultures, and faraway places. Travel demands them to be a clueless newbie in life over and over again. In a foreign country, they may not know how to order coffee, how the transport system works, or how to communicate with the locals; they have to unlearn their preconceived notions of how things work. Travelers are also cognizant of their own identity and understand that sometimes they can be constrained by it. As such, they are able to stay open-minded, challenge their habitual behaviors, and enjoy a whole new level of effectiveness and fulfillment in life.
5. They have creative confidence. Travelers are driven by diversity, curiosity, and imagination. Their appreciation for those things helps them to be more creative in their approach to life, ethics, politics, and work. They are usually the disruptors of status quo as they are driven to know more, ask questions, challenge assumptions, and steer away from conventional wisdom. They fill the workplace with why’s, stimulate conversations, and inspire people around them to think differently. This will be a key factor for cultivating innovation in the workplace.
6. They are action-oriented. While on the road, travelers are often reminded that circumstances are not always ideal. But if they wait for tomorrow to do what they want, the right moment may never come and things may never get done. What matters is to get started as soon as possible and make the best out of what they have. They don’t seek the perfect moment; they take action to make a random moment perfect. Travelers are also less inclined to allow the external environment to throw them into indecisiveness. They are confident that they are enough on their own and can make decision or take action without the need for assurance and validation. This is because the nature of travel forces them to face their fears and they quickly learn how brave and capable they really are. Things that used to paralyze them with fear have no effect on them now.
7. They keep their words. Establishing a reputation of follow-through is one of the quickest ways to gain trust and rapport in a professional setting. Travelers are adept at making plans, sticking to schedules, and meeting deadlines when they organize trips or meet up with people they’ve just befriended on the road. When traveling in developing countries, telecommunications become a challenge. Often, travelers have to make plans with fellow travelers many weeks or days in advance and never get to see or contact each other again until the next date. In this case, punctuality and fulfilling promises are important to keep themselves going while on the road.
8. They are not afraid to ask for help. Travelers are not afraid to ask for help or work with others to achieve mutual goals. Seeing more of the world helps them to shed arrogance about what they know and make them less certain about knowing what they don’t know. They are unafraid to admit what they don’t know and find the answer through a variety of means. In a professional setting, showing an interest in learning can take them further than pretending that they know everything. Asking for help also builds trust because it shows that they value the opinion of another person.
9. They are good storytellers, and they have good stories to tell. Particularly for long-term and solo travelers, they get the chance to connect with strangers from different parts of the world and exchange pieces of their own lives with other people. Every time they speak with people abroad, they see the world through others’ eyes, pick up new filters to view the world, and gain more nuggets for future conversations. Travel enables them to constantly share and exchange stories about life, people, business, and travel—all that ultimately groom them to become natural and confident presenters of various subjects.
10. They are emotionally stable. Travelers find themselves in a smorgasbord of situations and an array of cultural nuances and demands. So often they can become rattled in those unfamiliar scenarios. Those who travel often or long term quickly learn to master their emotions so as not to cause themselves further stress or trouble. They are aware of where their hot buttons reside and they are able to respond rather than react. Also, relationships are fuelled by steroids on the road. Travelers often meet people that they get along with right at first sight and then they spend an intense period with those people only to say goodbye later and never see each other again. Travelers know their time in a place is fleeting; they know how to live in the moment and they are not afraid of goodbye. This applies well in the business setting as they are able to stay committed to a task yet not be attached or emotionally crushed by a disappointing result.
The point of it all: Mindset. Travelers are not a special breed. It all merely comes down to changing the way we think. It’s not about where we are, it’s about what goes on inside our head while we are traveling, and replicating that mindset when we return home or move on to other things in life. Traveling is scary, rewarding, and fun in equal measure. It can help us grow as a person. All the travel experiences, serendipitous encounters, and unexpected enlightenment on the road can change the course of life and the core of identity.
Synopsis by TED: “Adventure is a mindset accessible to every pocketbook. Though often seen as an “escape” for those with money & time, Ginger Kern believes travel is not just about exploring other countries. She knew how it felt to be bold and adventurous abroad and wanted to avoid the trap of coming home and playing it safe with old routines. With three simple questions, she found a way for anyone to stay in the traveler’s mindset and live a life of adventure, no matter where they are in the world.”
Blaze away, Charine