Love to travel? Fancy yourself an entrepreneur? Travel is full of entrepreneurial lessons, as well as analogies for business and living. One of my first experiences was when I was a student at the University of Texas in Austin. Texas is a large state, and one has to be quite determined to journey beyond its borders.
One rainy morning on campus I noticed a brochure with an ocean liner on the cover. I grabbed it, and in a moment of sleep-deprived yearning, I dashed off an application for a scholarship and work-study program. The voyage was called Semester at Sea. Within weeks I learned that my application had been accepted.
It seemed too good to be true. I was on my around the world.
Traveling Beyond Borders
As a young girl, my wanderlust spirit had been satisfied with reading; I loved to read about foreign countries, different cultures, and exotic food. Books had also taught me that people have the same desires the world over. It was time to put the theories to the test.
What a trip it was! For four months, I worked my way around the globe as an assistant to the dean. The ten-port itinerary was incredible: Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan. (Every semester the voyage changes its route.)
Passengers included students, of course, but also instructors and staff members from around the globe, and other adventurous adults. Sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke went on the voyage several times. When the ship pulled into port, all sorts of folks — writers, diplomats, expats — would turn up to welcome the ship and its passengers. It was pretty heady stuff for a young person.
Most of us returned home changed. Our eyes were opened. We traveled as students seeking knowledge and understanding, visiting ports for several days at a time, not as tourists on an eight-hour tour. We were often more akin to the Gilligan’s Island crew, relying on our ingenuity.
A Thirst for Learning
Fast forward a few years. What entrepreneurial lessons did I learn on that voyage that I still draw upon today?
Independence – Once in port, we were free to come and go, but the ship waited for no one. Even freedom has constraints. Independence means making choices and living with the consequences.
Self-sufficiency – New country, don’t know the language? Lost or sick? You’ve got to figure out solutions on your own, or with fellow travelers. Much the same with an entrepreneurial venture, isn’t it? Like a jazz musician, you’ve got to find your groove.
Curiosity – If you stayed in your cabin, you missed what the world had to offer. The take-away? Push fear aside and get out there, every day. Develop a thirst for learning new ideas. Curiosity is the lifeblood of the entrepreneur, the writer, the traveler. Create opportunities to summon your entrepreneurial muse.
Gratefulness – What we take for granted every day is a luxury to many people in the world. Gratefulness keeps your priorities straight. Begin or end each day with a thankful heart. It could always be worse, but it’s your job to make it better.
No matter what your life journey might be — going on a trip, writing a book, starting a new venture — you will be forever changed. Enlightened. And this is a good thing. Always stay thirsty for living.
Want to share highlights from your entrepreneurial lessons, or discover inspiration from fellow entrepreneurs? Sign up now for the new Rich Ideas project. We’ll share ideas and entrepreneurial lessons from other successful founders.
Getting in the entrepreneurial groove? Here’s another article you might like: 5 Reasons Why an Entrepreneur is Like a Jazz Musician. And don’t forget to check out the Entrepreneur’s Resource List for a complete list of the tools we’ve found effective.