Perhaps one of the most alluring words in the English language is “wanderlust,” which means “a strong desire for travel.” From its first documented use in the early 1900s to today, it has become a buzzword to describe one’s thirst for adventure. Travel today is easier and more convenient – with cheaper airfares, group tour arrangements, access to travel blogs and app for reference – and everything can happen in just a CLICK. What used to be enjoyed by a privileged few has now become accessible for anyone who possesses wanderlust.
Despite this, however, not everyone has the travel bug. Why is that? The answer is experience, and more importantly, the collective variety of experiences that defines travel for everyone. Those that have wonderful experiences in their travels crave for more and eventually get this wanderlust bug, while those whose experiences are highlighted by the inconveniences of travel can do without it. Experience can either pollute or enhance one’s trip and the collective variety of these experiences defines how we see travel and the journey we take. Our experiences drive that lust for or dread of travel much more than the actual places we go to and how we travel – backpacking or first class.
Focus on the experience and control the outcome.
So if our experiences define how we see the world, should we not take conscious control of these experiences? I realized that although we do not have much control of what happens to us, we do have the power to control how we experience it.
For example, we have all had our fair share of nerve-wracking travel experiences – surly immigration officers, miserable cues at the airport, long delays in luggage retrieval, communication issues with cab drivers, horrific hotel service, and so on. All these can affect our mood and general experience. Once I started to be more conscious of the potency of these events I’ve had on my travels, I began to choose the experiences I wanted to count and which I simply ignored. For some funny reason, I have not gotten a surly immigration officer for some time now.
This is no different in the workplace. The collective experiences we get from every channel or source dictates how content we are, how engaged we are in our jobs, our drive, and ultimately our success. If we are able to take control of our experiences (what works for us and what does not), we have the potential to control our destiny. It needs to start with awareness and actively seeking for experiences we want.
I know some people who tend to complain about how boring their jobs are – going through the same daily dreaded routine, just keeping their heads above water. They are practically just surviving each day and not really living it. Without realizing it, they have simply chosen that path. Did they take initiative and find opportunities to get involved in exciting new projects? Did they go out of their way to make friends? Did they explore other options or career paths available to them? Probably not.
Hence a big part of the blame falls on them, but not all of it. Part of the accountability falls on their leaders and the organization they work for.
As leaders it is our responsibility to equip our people with the tools and the environment they need to find meaning and create value in what they do. It will and can only happen when they can relate to the organization’s purpose and how they can contribute to achieving it.
As we speak about leaders creating an environment where employees can grow and collect positive experiences, it is also essential that we drive the right behavior. Many organizations impose rules and regulations that are intended to make employees act and behave accordingly. These rules may have succeeded in preventing the wrong behavior. Sadly though, many fall short in driving the right behavior. When we have too many rules, we do not realize that the wrong behavior is actually encouraged and even reinforced.
How do we then drive the right behavior? Set principles, instead of rules.
I believe we should go back to highlighting principles instead of rules. Stick to the Why we are doing what we do. If you need a rulebook for clarity, or the law requires it, then we can use these rules as examples to support the principle. But we need to start with the principle and end with it. By consciously doing that, we can encourage the right behaviors that create the right experiences and ultimately define who we want to be.