Dua Kur Eye Enum A Obu
"A tree alone cannot withstand the storm."
June, 2007. 9 years ago. My first solo adventure. I was 21 years old and about to embark on a journey to Ghana with 5 people who were complete strangers to me, strangers who over the course of two weeks I would share experiences with, and in turn, create unbreakable bonds. I feel very fortunate to have seen at an early age the importance of connecting with ourself and others and how travel can help us tremendously. As humans, it is at the core of our being to expand our horizons and search towards the next frontier. The Ghanaian proverb I share above speaks volumes to what travel and exploration can do for us. We, as humans, thrive on connection. According to some, social connectivity is the key to our survival. As technology increases our ability to connect between farther distances, we have to remember the value of true person to person connection. As a remote worker, I am reminded daily of how necessary connection is to my personal productivity.
Travel has done a lot for me, but three things have been very significant in shaping my work and life.
Travel helps us gain a new perspective
When I am traveling, everything is new and exciting. The unknown, while scary, is craved. There is something to learn at every turn, and I am filled with wonder and amazement. When I am in this mental state, I find that I feel more child-like, creative and playful. I begin to reconnect with my true self, my inner child, a piece of me which has been covered up by layers of fear and self doubt. When I watch children interact, I see pure human spirit at play. There are no pre-conceived notions at play, no judgements, just pure, unadulterated joy through connection. Our inner child reflects our desires to simply connect and love one another. This "forgiving and open free spirit is our true nature." (source) When I become immersed in another culture, I am free from my own (and society's) constraints placed on me. My life is limitless! I am free to view the world with fresh eyes, one of the most beautiful opportunities available. These shifts in perspective shape who we are by exposing how truly similar we all are. These new windows strengthen the physical human bonds already present between us by allowing us to view through the spirit.
Travel increases our awareness and creativity
Awareness is our most key commodity. The more we increase our self awareness, the more we can improve our understanding of others and experience the present moment. In a study shared in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, research found that "recalling a multicultural learning experience: (a) facilitates idea flexibility (e.g., the ability to solve problems in multiple ways), and (b) increases awareness of underlying connections and associations...Overall, multicultural learning appears to be an important mechanism by which foreign living experiences lead to creative enhancement." (source) Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School and the author of numerous studies on the connection between creativity and international travel found that “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms." (source) Galinsky also found that it is not just travel though, but immersive, experiential travel, “The key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion, and adaptation. Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment.”
Travel increases our ability to connect with others, in turn, increasing our happiness
When we get out of our comfort zone, out of the daily bubble we live in, we begin to see that the rest of the world is much more like us than they are different from us. "Cross-cultural experiences have the potential to strengthen a person’s sense of self....'We found that when people had experiences traveling to other countries it increased what’s called generalized trust, or their general faith in humanity,' Galinsky says. 'When we engage in other cultures, we start to have experiences with different people and recognize that most people treat you in similar ways. That produces an increase in trust.' ...Sometimes all that’s needed for a creative boost is a fresh cultural scene." (source) With this increase in trust comes an increase in connection. The more connected we feel, the more supported we feel; the more support we have, the less pressure; the less pressure, the more room for happiness; and the happier we are, the more productive (source). A study done by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity. Research has also show that when workers are happy they are more effective collaborators working toward common goals. Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage, found that the brain works much better when feeling positive (source).
This is all good and well, I thought, but how can I take it further? Travel has helped me in so many ways, and I have personally felt the difference shared experiences have on my relationships. Research has even shown that experiences are intensified when paired with someone else (source). So how could I help other remote workers gain this connection we all crave? By teaming up with two other rebellious, creative souls, my Co-Founders, Charlie Birch and Summer Weirich, and forming Rebel + Connect. Rebel + Connect offers custom retreats for your remote team, to ensure remote team members are able to come together in real time and connect on a human level with self, others, and this amazing world.
Get connected. Get happy. Create. #BigIdeas
Originally posted on LinkedIN Pulse on July 5, 2016: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-traveling-increases-connection-helps-us-succeed-rachel-mcgehee?trk=pulse_spock-articles
Rebel + Connect creates custom retreats for remote teams. A Colorado based company owned and operated by Charlie Birch, Rachel McGehee, and Summer Weirich, we operate remotely and service clients from all over the globe. Join us as we create cultures of meaning and celebrate human connections in a digital world!
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