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Pack Your Bags for 2015

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 2014 was a banner year for international travel. It would be a monumental task to survey 1 billion international travelers and compile a journal from the stories, but it’s safe to say each trip provided some unique experiences. What comes to mind when you think about international travel? Does your mind flash to an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel? Whether you consider culinary diversity an opportunity or a threat may reveal something about your penchant for adventure. If the promise of seeing new places for the first time gives a bit of an adrenaline jolt, you may just be a travel junkie. Travel delivers indelible memories enriched by a mixture of the expected and unexpected, the pleasant and the unpleasant. It’s a great metaphor for your journey into the New Year. What is your plan for personal development? As you launch into your own leadership journey for 2015 this week, are you ready to travel? Evaluate your plan for the year based upon three common travel considerations.

Destination. Destination is the most obvious travel consideration. International travel that doesn’t include a destination is a recipe for failure. It may seem obvious when it comes to travel, but it should be just as evident for your personal development this year. Where do you want to be at the end of 2015? It’s easy to make excuses and blame your lack of clarity on impending uncertainty. But, that’s a tragic mistake. Are you more focused on what you don’t know or what you do know? There’s no point in arguing against the prevalence of uncertainty. However, you can choose to identify a personal vision that rises above the confusion. When you travel, you choose your destination wisely. The same principle must apply to your personal development itinerary. Commit to a dogged persistence when it comes to your leadership journey this year. Muster the courage to seek some honest feedback. Revisit the question. What kind of leader do you want to be at the end of this year? Every trip begins with a departure. Begin with your destination in mind and keep your vision alive throughout the year.

Pack your Bags. It’s easy to forget the fact that your destination always determines what you will need to pack. If you leave behind some frigid temperatures in January and travel to a warm climate, you can pack a little lighter. If you expect to encounter extreme conditions, you must prepare. Begin 2015 with the same straightforward questions that you would ask before you stuff your luggage for a significant journey. What will I need? In terms of your leadership journey this year, your destination will determine your needs. Refine your vision before you embark and then compile a list of provisions that will sustain you during the year. You may need coaching, mentoring, increased accountability or an extensive strategy to overcome some persistent obstacles in your life. You may need to adjust your support system or rebuild your team. You may need to set aside some time to read, research and sharpen your mind. Plan ahead and avoid significant cost and loss of time from a failure to prepare.

Business or Pleasure? It’s a frequent question. Surely, it has value. However, when it comes to preparation for your leadership journey in 2015, the answer must be “yes” to both. Developing your identity as a leader stretches well beyond the workplace. It’s more than a business plan. Effective leadership connects your intellect, identity and actions. If you have no intention of enjoying the journey, why take the trip? Positive change requires a serious investment and radical determination. The rewards are not always prominent on every leg of the trip. In fact, pressing toward your destination can empty your tank. When you encounter your most difficult days this year, pleasure may be hard to come by. That’s when joy becomes a choice made in spite of adversity. It is essential to blur the lines between business and pleasure. Choose to cherish the intrinsic rewards of positive change and then increase your joy by sharing your experiences with others. Make sure the trajectory of your leadership extends beyond a narrow focus. Consider how you can increase your impact beyond the walls of your business. Become a leadership enthusiast and invite others to enjoy the journey with you.

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