Passport, adaptors, foreign currency, all packed strategically so that I can get on with work even if the airline decides to misplace one of my suitcases. I’ve run through the itinerary many times in my head, all meetings have been confirmed, hotels and flights too. I’ve set the out-of-office message. Got the iPad, the phone (with the foreign SIM card), every conceivable cable, and even an umbrella (I’m coming to the UK!).
I’m ready to go.
The taxi is waiting downstairs and it’s time to lock the door behind me, grab the bags and get the journey started. At this point I feel a little bit uneasy. Have I got everything I need? What if I forget that crucial thing?
And that’s when I realise that what I’m going through is really just a metaphor for exporting. Or for taking risks in general. You can – and should – prepare as much as you can. You can think of all the things that could go wrong (or too well) and have your contingency plan(s). You can print your maps, sync your dropbox files and brief your team as much as you want. But there’s a point where you’ve just got to pick up the suitcase and go.
Preparation will make all the difference, though something is bound to go wrong at some point. But you can’t just stay at home to avoid the pitfalls. Think of how many opportunities you’d miss if you did. You’ll just have to improvise, take a different turn, challenge yourself somewhere along an unplanned route. The best thing is that you’ll surprise yourself – you’ll learn to love it.
As I type this, I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss my connection in London. However, if I didn’t sail through these bumps, I’d never be looking forward to an amazing week with exciting projects, inspiring clients, supportive associates and fantastic friends. Worth the hassle, I say.