This month marks the 15 year anniversary of my travels as a Speaker. My first out of town speaking engagement was near St. Louis, Missouri.  I remember driving there from Kansas City and feeling nervous about getting lost, hoping I would make it to the event on time, thinking about the butterflies I would have as I stood up in front of a group of women, and praying that God would use my words to encourage and inspire those listening.  Over the past 15 years, I have been blessed to speak in multiple venues to both women and men both in the US and around the world.  I have been privileged to travel to many wonderful places.  Reflecting back over the past 15 years, here are 5 life lessons I have learned from my adventures.

  1. You meet unforgettable people.  I’ll never forget the sweet lady I met who was 96 years old.  Her life had been one of ups and downs, but she had chosen to let those things make her better and not bitter.  She grinned as she told me that she was planning on turning in her drivers license to her son on her 97th birthday.  
  2. You learn a lot about life.  We often surround ourselves with people we are most comfortable with and forget about the world which exists in the parallel. I remember while traveling with our daughter through a small village in Brazil, she turned to me and said, “Mom, I never knew how much I had to be thankful for.” She also learned on that trip how selfless many of the Brazilians were in sharing freely what little they did have with us.  For them, life was about so much more than their possessions.
  3. You gain perspective.  Often times when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, and so important.   Yet  in the grand scheme of life, most of what we get upset about won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now.  As we learn about the struggles and challenges that others have faced, we realize if the AC isn’t working during the heat of summer or we didn’t get the job we wanted or that real or imagined time someone hurt our feelings, the thing we wanted but didn’t get doesn’t seem to be as important.
  4. You are challenged to try new things.  Whether you are staring at a menu realizing you have no idea what the items are, or jumping on a bus that you hope will get you somewhere familiar, travel is an adventure. You have to try new things, take new risks and often step into the unknown . It is all about getting yourself into situations and turning them into amazing experiences. You develop confidence. After all, you made it to your destination, found your connecting flights, ordered food and somehow made it through a new experience.
  5. You are never alone.  You can make friends anywhere. Even in unfamiliar places, I have always found others who became my friends.  Be the first to smile. Make an effort to join in with them in their celebrations or simply ask them questions about their lives. This is all it takes. Go meet them. It is sure to change your life.

What are some lessons you’ve learned through your traveling adventures?