If you are thinking about going on the World Race, you might be debating the pros and cons. Or, maybe the World Race isn’t even on your radar but you love or would love to travel in the future, or maybe you’ve thought about going on a mission trip for a week or two. If so, get excited…because you will be a different person when you return home. Travel in general is a great teacher and allows us to expand our mind to new possibilities and ideas. So, based on my own experiences, here are 5 Things That You Will Learn on the World Race.
1. How to Give & Receive Feedback
Feedback is one of the best and worst parts of the race. For me, it’s comparable to going to the dentist. For example, I really hate going to the dentist and I usually feel anxious and irritated leading up to my appointment. And then afterwards I’m always fine and in fact, I’m glad that’s it’s over and most of the time even pleased that I went.
In the same way, feedback can create a lot of fear and anxiety leading up to it because you have no idea what to expect and obviously, most of us don’t have the best relationship with uncertainty. However, once it’s over, feedback can be immensely helpful for a few reasons.
First, it’s great practice for learning to communicate and express your ideas. Especially if you’re giving constructive feedback you want to ensure that you are making your point clear but that you are doing it in a way that also communicates the persons strengths and encourages them.
Second, feedback allows you to practice bravery. Giving difficult feedback when you have no idea how it will be received requires a lot of courage on the part of the person giving the feedback.
When I was on the race we gave feedback to our team members at least a few times per week. Often it is difficult to identify our own strengths and weaknesses and we often miss details that are very clear to those around us. Therefore, through feedback our eyes are opened to areas that we can continue to grow in as well as things we are doing well and should focus on and continue doing.
Have you ever heard the term ‘African time?’ If not, go to Africa and within 24 hours you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Americans tend to be pretty structured when it comes to being on time. However, living in Africa we quickly learned that even if we were told a party or gathering started at 3…that actually meant that it would start anywhere between 3-6. As you can imagine, we were always the first people to arrive…by a margin of at least an hour. Initially, we did not have a good understanding of the culture or the way people perceive time. In fact, as Americans we were often called, ‘people of the watch.’
At first, this was really frustrating. The way that most of my teammates and I were raised, if an event starts at 3, guests are expected to arrive at 3…or shortly after if you are stuck in traffic. However, arriving hours late would imply that the person does not care and it might be considered offensive. Obviously we were just scratching the surface of all that we had yet to learn about African culture.
Therefore, I think that in any situation like this the key ingredient is patience. It’s easy to assume that the way that you do something must be right…however, if you’re patient, you often find that there’s more than one correct way.
If you’ve heard anything about the World Race, you might have heard people throw around the words, ‘no expectations,’ ‘flexible,’ or ‘adaptable.’ There were very few days on the race where I woke up in the morning and knew exactly what we would be doing or what the day would hold.Being adaptable allows us to enjoy activities or situations that we might otherwise dismiss. When we have very clear expectations and leave little room or change or alternatives, we often set ourselves up for disappointment. The fact… Click To Tweet
For example, when I initially applied to go on the World Race there were two countries on our itinerary that I was especially excited to visit, China and India. However, our route was eventually changed and we ended up going to Bulgaria rather than India. While it would have been easy to complain and feel really disappointed, I also would have missed out on all that Bulgaria has to offer.
Looking back, I loved our time in Bulgaria and I can’t imagine not having visited it. Sometimes the change or situation that we are dreading or fearful of is actually far better and more fruitful than any plan that we could have anticipated on our own.
Sometimes you just need to keep going. Once we were about halfway through the race, I remember thinking that it was hard to imagine a future where I went more than a few days without eating either rice or beans. While I do enjoy rice and beans, I would daydream about eating bowls and bowls of vegetables. Or, there were moments where I fantasized about using a washer and dryer so that my jeans were not stretched out at least two sizes each time that I wore them.
When you’re right in the middle of any season of life it’s often difficult to see the end, but know that it’s there.
The great part about persevering during key points in your life is that you can then carry them with you as milestones as you move forward in years to come. For example, if you keep a list of goals and areas of life where you’ve persevered in the past, it makes it so much easier to keep going in the present. It provides a daily and weekly reminder that you’ve done it before and you can do it again.
If life we often dismiss people. We see or meet people who are unlike us and we immediately assume that a friendship is not in our future with them or we just ignore them the best that we can. However, on the World Race you’re often put on teams with people that you might never meet or spend time with in your everyday life back home. And if we’re willing to put in the work to listen and to really know people, you’ll find lifelong friends in the most unexpected places.
When you live with people for months or even a year or more, you’re forced to be really honest with both yourself and others. In my experience, it often took months before we became comfortable and actually enjoyed spending time with some of our teammates. Unfortunately, we often never reach this point in most of our lives because we often write people off within hours or days of meeting them.
What I found is that it’s so important to give people a chance, even if you don’t think you have anything in common, or even if you have different backgrounds or stories. In fact, the person or people who are most unlike you are actually the ones that you could probably learn the most from.