Living in 9 Countries Has Been the Greatest Lesson in Humility. Here's What I've Learned
Traveling can be a luxury, but it can also be extremely humbling.
I've lived in nine countries on five continents. While traveling comes naturally to me, I don't take it for granted: I'm extremely appreciative of all of the ways that living in different countries has taught me humility.
Humility is the secrete sauce in the recipe of success. It's a quality shown in everyday life, as much as it is shown in leadership and business.
The ability to be humble and open is a fundamental skill for any entrepreneur. Not only does humility make you more approachable (and arguably more like-able), it keeps you level headed and allows you to see the bigger picture.
1. Living in different cultures teaches you about society.
As humans, we tend to each live in our own little world. When you travel, you're asked to expand that world.
Your point of view can sometimes hinder you. Without even meaning to, you can start to tunnel vision and stop seeing the bigger picture. But when you expand your perspective, you broaden your reality.
Being in a different culture can teach you so much about other mindsets and ways of life, but it can also teach you about your own. Your own habits, judgments, beliefs, traditions, you see it all through a new lens when you see how other people live.
The first time I went to India, I was amazed when I saw cars waiting for a cow to make its way across the street. Someone explained to me that cows are sacred in India. It was humbling that respecting these beautiful animals was a norm in that culture.
New Delhi is a massive city, with over 21 million people (a.k.a. a lot of traffic). Still, the population chooses to prioritize cows over themselves. It was the first time I saw people value an animal's life (who wasn't a household pet).
When you're able to see something--like society and culture--more objectively, you are able to step outside of what you "know." It makes you a better leader.
2. It creates space for out-of-the-box thinking.
Look at Elon Musk, or Steve Jobs. These visionaries attribute so much of their ability to innovate to their awareness of the world at large.
Being able to visit and learn from other cultures can teach you lessons that ultimately allow you to be more open-minded, which in turn can pave the way for you to create things you or the world has never seen before.
After dropping out of college, Jobs took a trip to India. Decades later, he met with Mark Zuckerberg who was (at the time) struggling with launching Facebook and had a lot of people who wanted to buy Facebook, Zuckerberg didn't know what to do. So he asked Steve Jobs for guidance.
Zuckerberg later said at a Q&A with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Jobs told him to "reconnect with what I believed was the mission of the company, I should go visit this temple in India that he had gone to early in the evolution of Apple, when he was thinking about what he wanted his vision of the future to be."
Temporarily removing yourself from your own subjective everyday norms can provide you insight on what society needs as a whole.
3. Not knowing how to speak the language is extremely difficult.
Not being able to communicate in a new environment is beyond frustrating, but it also teaches you how to rely on yourself in a new way.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be okay with being in nerve racking and uncomfortable situations. To be a good entrepreneur, you need to be okay with being the dumbest person in the room.
That takes humility.
Networking and seeking mentors is a lot harder when you go after it with ego. When you're able to be confident and humble simultaneously, you allow yourself immense opportunity.
4. The greatest lesson I've learned from traveling is that it's not the destination that matters, but the journey.
Traveling teaches you to stop, pause, and appreciate things in their current state--rather than always racing toward the next goal post.
The path of an entrepreneur, is windy, uncomfortable, and sometimes even devastating.
As an entrepreneur uphill battles seem constant and grand goals will wait for you on the horizon. Which is why you need to trust and enjoy the process.
Can you balance always wanting to achieve more, while being satisfied with what you've already accomplished?
If so, you're doing a fantastic job of practicing humility.
The humility you learn from traveling is an amazing tool you can bring into your personal and professional life. And that's why I encourage everyone to make time to travel.
It will only help you understand the world, and yourself, more.