‘Good things come to those who go’; this thought met me on a Delta flight, delivered on their napkin. It fits in with Delta’s self-framing as the means of ‘getting out there’. It seemed to me a good idea at a more general level than travel.
I’ve had something of a love-hate relationship with ‘getting out there’ most of my life. To place it in the context of the DISC human behaviour model, I’m more of a ‘stay here’ sort of person – reserved with a fairly even split between task and people focus. I like familiar surroundings and people, I dislike change, particularly when it’s sudden, and I prefer to have a limited number of projects on the go at any one time with a good view of the details. Spending years bouncing around the world with a growing family in tow does not fit this profile particularly well. Although, I suppose you could argue that having a relatively, for the 1980s and 90s, large family meant that I was creating my own travelling band of familiar people.
But I did enjoy it. Getting out there was so enriching, not just in developing me, but giving me the joy of seeing my children grow into world citizens. I have met amazing people from incredibly diverse cultures and walks of life. It prepared me to take young people on adventure leadership training trips in Asia and South America. I have been challenged, and so I have a foundation from which to issue challenges to others.
What might my life look like if I had ‘stayed home’? I suspect economically I would be better off, although I doubt that even in this respect I would have more potential at this moment than I currently enjoy. I am certain that, in my fields of expertise, Literature, Theology, Inter-cultural studies, and Philosophy, I would be very different and, I think, less eclectic and developed. Most importantly, I would be poorer in experience and the network of those I call friends would be much smaller – the familiar people of a much-narrowed field of experience.
2020 has been a bit of a challenge as far as getting out there is concerned. But it isn’t just about geography. Be the adventure. It doesn’t have to be a grand tour of another continent. It may be as close as a suburb with a different ethnic mix. Start with going to a restaurant serving food you’ve never tried from a culture you’ve never visited. Or perhaps it means being like my youngest daughter who left her secure, well paid public-service job, to start her own business. Maybe it is about reconnecting with an old friend or family member or making a brand new connection. Getting out there can be any combination of physical, emotional and/or intellectual. Whatever it is, it will mean butting up against the frontier of your safe-zone. If we are going to be leaders in creating teams and communities in which people feel safe to be themselves, and therefore deliver maximum benefit to others as well as themselves, we have to move up against the edge of our comfort zone and push.
Yeh – let’s get up and get out.