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What I Liked About Iceland

by Jeff Gau on June 15, 2017

My job gives me the opportunity to travel all over the world from New Zealand to Argentina. But there was something special about a recent trip I took to Iceland that was purely for pleasure.

It’s a place I never would have imagined going in the past. Who would want to leave the summer weather in Minnesota and travel to the cool and rainy climate of Iceland?

When I was younger, the idea of a vacation meant going to the beach and kicking back. It rarely centered around culture or adventure like it does now. I took my first “culture” trip last year with a group to Cuba and just returned from Iceland with many of the same people.  

It made me think about what a vacation can be and how we can be refreshed as leaders. Here are some of my takeaways:

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  • Travel with an unexpected group.
    During my first “organized group” trip last year to Cuba, led by my friend Lee Hurd from Bursch Travel, I realized that traveling with others you’ve never met provides its benefits. (Read about my Cuba trip). Each trip provides an opportunity to meet new people, become friends with strangers – in a week – and even get reacquainted with people from your past. On this trip, I connected with a former high school teacher of mine, and I also got to experience the trip with young people in their 20s to a woman in her early 90s. I went on this trip with a few of my really good friends, and we all got to experience the dynamics of being part of a larger, close-knit group.

  • Stay on the move.
    On this 10-day trip, we changed hotels almost every night to make our way around the country and take in new sights. Normally, I would appreciate settling into a hotel and establishing my routine. But moving every night allowed me to experience the charm of more towns and more adventures. It was a good example of being dynamic and flexible to maximize geography and time.

  • Experience natural wonders.
    There are some things you cannot see anywhere else in the world and taking a vacation to see them is worthwhile. How many places are there where you can see volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs, geysers and glaciers? Each of them is an amazing, unique creation to see up close. And I got to see all of them in a matter of days. The sheer beauty of these natural wonders is unforgettable and gives me a renewed perspective of this world.

  • Change up your pace.
    Vacation is more about slowing down from your normal routine. While we stayed on the move during this trip to immerse ourselves in the culture of this 40,000-square-mile island, we also experienced a slower pace. Few businesses were opened before 9 am, and to a morning person like me, it really challenged my routine. While the different feel to the morning is welcomed on vacation, it would be a challenging lifestyle for me to get used to because of the slower pace (not to mention it’s dark most of the year).

  • Get outside of your comfort zone.
    When we get outside of our own environment and surround ourselves with something completely new – like my trips to Cuba and Iceland – we naturally experience the moments and days more fully. A new environment brings a new pace and perspective that can refresh us as leaders and enable us to come back to work better.

Of course the natural beauty of the island was a highlight for all us. But an added bonus was the group dynamics of traveling together with 40 people of all different ages and interests. It was fun to watch how everyone’s expectations were met for a variety of reasons. At every turn, we got to experience a natural wonder that is a once in a lifetime sighting for most of us.

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Topics: Leadership, Professional Development

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