How often do you say yes to yourself? Do you say yes to yourself when it comes to taking on a new role in your career, moving to a new city, learning new things that support your professional and personal development, or living adventurously?
I have said yes to a lot of things that have served and promoted my professional and personal development throughout my adult life. I have found more yeses to opportunities than nos. Those yeses have created the life experiences that I can reflect on today and more importantly they have given me the chance to learn and develop expertise in a number of areas in business.
I said yes to a job in 1982 that I had no experience for and it turned out to be the beginning of my 35-year corporate career. Throughout my corporate career, I was given more than my fair share of experiences to learn, grow, and develop into a global leader.
The risks that I said yes to in taking on new roles, traveling to other offices in other states and countries, leading turnarounds that a positive impact on the company, transforming the business models to make them more efficient and cost-effective, and changing the organizational cultures of companies to be more empowering and engaging. All of this work made me a better leader and business person.
One of the highlights of my corporate career that positioned me to launch my own business was my willingness to assess risk and say yes to what others would not go near. I accepted roles that were mostly high risk with appropriate rewards. Each time I developed more confidence about taking adventures routes to grow my leadership style and business acumen.
Leaders who are willing to take risks based on their ability to say yes to themselves are more likely to experience more adventures in their careers and lives. Risk-takers typically do not compartmentalize their lives, they are all in when it comes to taking on new adventures.
Another part of my life that I accept the risks and go for the adventures is with global traveling. I have traveled to six of the seven continents and by my last count as many as 80 countries. While most of that travel was for vacations or holidays, I have worked on five continents and in 20 countries. Both experiences were adventurous with ample lessons learned with every experience. Of the many destinations, one remains one of the most impactful.
My adventure to Kenya was prompted by an invitation to participate in service work at some orphanages and schools. I was eager to get to Kenya and offer my support to the people who would become my friends. The work itself was fairly easy-painting the interior or cottages, helping cook and serve meals to the children, and visiting the schools in the slums, and making donations for the children throughout. A benefit to the service work was the time off and the adventures that came with it.
One break from the service work was a trip to Lamu Island on the coast of Kenya. The flight was on a propeller airplane with very strict weight limits and we maintained an altitude that was low enough to see the Kenyan countryside from Kenya to the airport on the mainland across from Lamu Island. It was like flying on a private plane with only 6 passengers.
The biggest adventure came for me the morning after the first night in this luxurious eco-friendly resort complete with thatched-roofed suites directly on the dunes of the Indian Ocean. I woke up with the rising sun and decided to walk out on the sand bar that was created by the low tide. It was an adventure of a lifetime!!!
As I walked out on the sand, there were more starfish, sand dollars, and shells than I had ever seen-even while growing as a beachcomber in South Florida. The small pools of water were filled with exotic and tropical fish and I was experiencing pure joy on this walk. At one point, I looked up and I was so far out that the Dhows were on there way out into the Indian Ocean. After I waved at them as they went by I turned around to see the beach and realized it was a long way back. I had been walking on the sandbar for nearly 30 minutes.
When I made it back to my beachfront suite, I sat on the day bed swing and reflected on the adventure I had just experienced. I was overwhelmed with the happiness from seeing so much on my walk, emotional about having walked into the Indian Ocean with so much beauty literally at my feet, and grateful in a way that seemed to have been amped up. My saying yes to the adventure gave me more than I ever could have imagined. Almost 14 years later that adventure continues to share lessons learned with me about me and my surroundings.
I encourage you to find your Yes when it comes to taking on adventures in your career or personal life. In either case, I am certain you will reap the benefits that will exceed your wildest expectations. An adventurous life lived in awe and joy is just on the other side of your Yeses.
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