You know the feeling, when you need to write something but your brain is not cooperating and you have nothing to say, although you are otherwise talkative and full of ideas. Then you are brushing your teeth and suddenly there it is! You run to your phone to note it down. Once you get to the computer, you start writing but the idea holds up for merely one paragraph, maybe two. And then another day you are having coffee with a colleague and she says something, completely unrelated, and here you are again, with a new idea and more clicks … Only it is not linked to what you wrote before, and at the end of the day, it looks like more of an anecdote than a blog post. And so time goes by and you still do not have that post you promised your editor.
Then you go and pack for a business trip, with lots of lay-overs. With nothing to do at the terminal and waiting for hours, it would be a great opportunity to write. So here I am, surrounded with people from all over the world, everybody rushing to catch their flights, and I will most probably never run into them again.
It is always inspiring to watch passersby – it’s like your own people television – and I enjoy it at airports, in city centers while having a coffee, or in busy streets, thinking what are the stories behind the smiling or tired faces, strong and determined steps and occupied minds. Trying to find an empty seat close to an electric socket, not to have another excuse for not writing the post, I find it in a surprisingly quiet corner, away from overpriced restaurants and shops with things we do not need, but keep looking at anyway.
I do travel quite a lot. For work that is. Not that I otherwise sit at home, not at all. But being away from the office a substantial part of work days qualifies as a lot. And to be clear, I like it. There is a different world out there. Sometimes there are different rules, sometimes no rules at all, and sometimes just very different from what we are used to at home.
A lot of my past travels were related to leading projects, surfing a field unknown in a foreign country and putting out fires, so to speak. Being the problem solver takes a lot of energy and also requires a fair amount of improvisation to make something happen, handling all kinds of situations and saving the day. Or perhaps not saving the day right away and staying awake most of the night, trying to figure things out. At the end, it is rewarding to succeed and make an impact. Rewarding yet sometimes also difficult – not in the way that you would not want to repeat it, but demanding and full of challenges, so that you get hooked.
I remember being asked once, “Doesn’t it get exhausting over time?” Yes, it does but only if you let it become exhausting. “So what keeps you going?” another question followed. It’s a long story, yet it’s always the people. All kinds of them. It’s about getting energy from the people. Always. Everywhere. On every step. With every breath. At home, in the street, at the market, in the gym, in the classroom, on the road, on the trip, in the movie – always surrounded by people. It is not even necessary to know it immediately that they have affected you; you may well realize it latter. But they have. With every word and gesture.
First, there are people that look up to you. Their wish and determination to be there and work with you is the strongest driver ever. They follow you because you have something to share, something that will make them stand out, or something that will help them to be better or just different. To me, the best feeling is standing in front of the class full of enthusiastic participants, all eager to learn something new, share experience and step out of their comfort zone when trying to talk in front of the class themselves. Believe me, there is no better energy booster as eyes full of questions and eagerness to learn.
Then there are the people you work with – they are your right or left hand, or you lend both hands to them, and together you do magic things. They give the necessary strength and willpower, and you know that while you have their back, they have yours and together you can make it happen.
And then of course the people that you share your life with. They support you when you are happy or excited, or when you are down and struggling. Without them, daily inspiration would be hidden in thick fog.
Finally, there is you, getting up every day to do the things that you like to do, ready to make a difference. In this mission, it is important to continuously meet new people from other cultures and surroundings, dealing with different challenges. And to see foreign cities and work with other institutions, solving real life problems in the field while office life goes on as usual. Sometimes having the opportunity to look behind the nice green fence of your home garden makes you aware of the big world out there that functions quite differently from your everyday life, thus broadening your perspective.
From time to time, we all need a role model and a source of inspiration. It is about nurturing and nourishing your own soul and mind to fill them with fresh ideas, new concepts, different perspectives, out-of-the-box views and extreme experiences. New people and environment can inspire you to do things differently. They pull you out of your daily repetitive surroundings.
It is like playing tennis with the same friend over and over again. You will never know how good you actually are if you don’t try it with other friends, or even enrol for a contest and step out of your comfort zone, as this is the only way you will ever really learn and get better.
We may sometimes get so entangled in our everyday routines, being busy to fulfill our missions, that we forget that there is a whole other world out there, waiting to be discovered. So whenever you have the chance, look over the fence, seize the opportunity to meet new people and find out about their problems, aspirations and routines. Most importantly, learn about their ideas, their goals, their way of doing business. The more you’ll listen to them, the better you’ll see that we all solve similar problems – just the way we solve them is different. And that’s what makes learning interesting and prepares you to be fresh and ready for yet another mission.