When was the last time you boldly stepped outside your comfort zone and over the threshold of something new? Maybe it was something slightly outside the realm of what you imagined for yourself professionally. Perhaps it challenged your own idea of what it even means to be bold, and made your heart race just a little. Maybe something that made your mother worry.
With a pocketful of excitement and two meaningful starter projects in hand, I officially checked all those boxes last month and launched my own company. Oh, and I happen to be running my business from 12 different countries in the first 12 months. (Enter the steady stream of WhatsApp check-in texts from my mother here.)
So what does living abroad in 12 different countries during a business’s first year have to do with successfully launching a company? Writing this blog post in a Budapest café, with a clear view of nineteenth century Baroque architecture outside, within earshot of the barista enthusiastically chatting up a patron in Hungarian, and the wafting smell of a steaming hot Langos from the table next to me, I’ll say this: Everything.
Far away from the predictable environment of my home city, lies the distinct opportunity to be even better at what I’ve excelled at professionally for the past 14 years. I’ll go out on a limb and boldly assert this international working arrangement positions me to conceivably be the best at what I do. Well-supported by modern technology, the nature of my profession lends itself particularly well to remote execution. But it’s more than a steady Internet connection, video conferencing apps, and collaboration tools that hold the promise of thriving abroad as a strategic communication partner to companies and thought leaders around the world. It’s the undeniable presence that my current experience brings.
Here’s the reality. If you’re human, and breathing, there is a fantastic chance you spend far more hours of your day “going through the motions” of life than being fully present. In varying degrees, everyone lives their life on auto pilot. Consider for a moment the comfort and predictability of your daily life. From the moment you wake up and negotiate 10 more minutes of sleep with your iPhone or Alexa, to the shower you take with the bath products you know, and the coffee you pick up from that favorite café as part of your well-worn commute to the office you could navigate in your sleep—most days are gone about comfortably, predictably, and largely without thought. Sometimes so much so, that you struggle to recall a single landmark passed on your return commute home, momentarily snapping back into presence upon entering your abode before checking out again in front of the Netflix queue.
Opening a new door changes the entire paradigm. Time halts the moment you step over the threshold of a new experience that makes your heart beat a little faster. In that moment, there is no past, and no future. Swapping the predictable with something entirely foreign naturally makes us more present, receptive, and frankly-far more effective. Acutely aware of just how little I know about my new surroundings, travel is the experience that personally catapults me into presence. From acclimating to a new language, different foods and Monopoly-looking money, to the rich, historic context and vital, cultural nuances fueling a society—everything is an exciting discovery. Forced to assume nothing, travel inspires an intense personal curiosity that has me questioning everything. I’m solely focused on what’s immediately before me. Just. Right. Here. Completely present. And it’s pure magic.
The payoff of that presence is profound. The act of venturing into unchartered territory and endeavoring something new from a place of hyper-focused awareness, magnifies our capacity to fully hear and learn from one another, forge meaningfully collaborative relationships, and create entirely new solutions. Boldly stepping over the threshold of a new experience makes us more observant, insightful, and creative conduits of innovation. It makes us better. And it doesn’t just benefit you, but everyone in your world. Your resulting contributions benefit your family, your friends, your significant other, your children, your neighbors, every client you serve, and your community. It’s no stretch to say those contributions ultimately have the capacity to make the world a better place.
Most exciting, is that for as many different personalities and passions that exist in the world—there are an equal or greater number of doorways to that presence. While my favored entrance to focus and creativity executing winning communications campaigns is travel, for you it might be inner-city volunteerism in your crusade to devise an entirely new business model in your respective industry, skydiving on your quest to engineer a new enterprise solution that better leverages big data, or a solo spiritual pilgrimage on your path to teach contortionist yoga to the Silicon Valley set. What’s the last new door you opened?
Originally published in an unabridged format on the KCI blog at https://kullcommunications.com/blog/the-magic-of-boldly-walking-through-a-new-door