Long ago I got advice from a respected business leader on what types of books they read. While I was expecting it to be a steady diet of business strategy books I was shocked to hear what their rotation actually looked like. They rotated between three types of books; business strategy, biographies, and fiction (preferably science fiction). Their reasoning was very straightforward. The strategy books keep them in touch with their business skills. Biographies give them real life examples of individuals living their values and add depth to strategy. The science fiction reminded them to have a sense of wonder and imagination while also helping share abstract ideas that round out old ideas and inspire new strategies.
While I don’t follow this methodology to a tee it does help alleviate the guilt I sometimes feel when enjoying a fiction. What’s also so very astonishing to me is how many lessons I’ve pulled from my most recent fiction, The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Lessons in leadership, humility, action, values, chasing passion, learning from mistakes – all have hit me in the gut to the point where I sometimes had to pause and realize I was learning from a work fiction.
So Kreiling, isn’t the blog today about travel or something? What gives with the long explanation? How does this tie together?
Funny you should ask, I was just getting to that. 😉
One of the lines from the book hit me very unexpectedly between the eyes. As I considered it I ended up pausing the book just to focus on the thought.
No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles. If you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler mirror-glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection.
As I thought this over I held the concept in the hands of my mind, twisted it, turned it, prodded it, and manipulated it. This concept really has validity to it.
Sure, I love vacation as it is the opportunity to see beautiful and wonderful things. There’s a passion for the experience itself as my senses delight in something outside of the normal.
Beneath the surface there are parts of me that are also craving the escape. To travel is to get away from the normal routine, the normal schedule, the normal me.
When I travel I peel off layers of myself; specifically the roles and responsibilities that I hold myself to. What’s left when travel is not Business Mike, Professional Mike, and often not even Dad Mike or Husband Mike. There’s just Mike. This is most true when I travel alone.
In those moments of solitude it is very interesting. I am just me and I’m left with my thoughts and my actions. In moments of solo travel (& distance running; they’re oddly similar) I am left with my thoughts. Those moments have helped me learn so much about myself. I still think back to my solo time in Australia, Colorado, and my first couple of marathons. I was confronted with positive things and realizations of strengths while also facing weaknesses and disappointments. In almost each occasion I walked away from the experience with tangible lessons I could use to live into being a better Mike moving forward.
In those moments of travel with my identities stripped away I’m more clearly able to see the truest version of me. I’m able to get a better feel for where I’m at and what the gap is between who I am and who I should be. In travel I find ways to close that gap.
What a gift travel is for the soul in so many ways!