Friday, June 12, 2009

Musings of a Road Warrior

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInAs I sit here in the terminal at Edmonton International Airport waiting to board my flight home, I am once again struck by how easy it is to fall into a comfort zone and get stuck there. Case in point: in 1999 I was hired as a professional speaker for Pryor Resources Inc., one of the first and largest companies of its kind in the U.S.A. My typical schedule was one week on; one week off - so every second week I was headed to some new place. Several of the "runs" I went on were to places I had never been. I faced those adventures with relish and excitement - I always prepared for the unexpected - I carried a book of maps with me, then cross referenced my maps with the ones provided by the car rental companies. If I got lost, most of the time I just went with the flow and used my "common sense" to get me to my destination. I was careful, to be sure, but I never shied away from the adventure.
Fast forward to 2009 - My stint with Pryor ended when they declared bankruptcy in July of 2001. I went back to a desk job and didn't fly anywhere except for two visits to Jamaica. Speaking engagements all seemed to be close to home, or within driving distance of home, and somewhere along the way I got comfortable with my shrinking universe. I got the sense last year that as my business evolves and continues to gain momentum, that travel will once again become a regular facet of my life; although now I get to choose when, how much, and how far I will go. But I also noticed a certain sense of apprehension when I thought about travelling more again.
So here I am, June 2009, sitting at the Edmonton airport. This was my first time to Edmonton - first time out west. I only know one person who lives here - she offered to be my taxi for the week, and I almost took her up on it. But then I had flashbacks of the days when I was "on the road" and the freedom I felt as I was able to get in my rented car and drive around the city or countryside where I was - enjoying the scenery, and the quiet... having the space to stop on the side of the road if I wanted so I could take pictures... the simple pleasures of listening to whatever I felt like (music, motivational CDs, or just nothing at all)... having the option to choose the road I want to travel, rather than the one chosen for me...
Sure, it was nice to see my friend and to enjoy a nice evening out with her. But I have to say that I'm glad I didn't HAVE to depend on her. I needed to broaden my horizons again - I needed to allow myself the space to grow and experience the journey in my own way.
This expansion of my comfort zone extends not only to the experience of travel itself: I am not by nature drawn to crowds, and I am reluctant to strike up conversations with strangers. But going to a conference where you know absolutely no - one, you have to step outside of your comfort zone.
What about you? What can you do to step out of your comfort zone?