One of the reasons I enjoy traveling internationally is to see how other people do things.

This was also one of the reasons I wanted to take my kids to travel outside of the United States.

I wanted them to (hopefully) realize that just because they’ve only known one way of doing things doesn’t mean it’s the only way. I wanted to open their minds a bit.

Their first trip outside of the United States was to Cuba a few years ago.

On our flight out, I explained to them that one of the fun things about traveling off the beaten path is that what you expect will happen often differs from what actually will happen. This is part of the sense of adventure and discovery that comes with this choice.

After we settled into our flat for our first night, we went out to dinner. After we ordered, my girls wanted to go to the restroom. So, they went as a group of three.

It took them an unusually long time to come back.

It turns out they got confused initially as to which bathroom was for men versus women. First, they went to the women’s room, but it didn’t look the same as the women’s rooms in the United States.

Then, they freaked out that maybe they were accidentally in the men’s room. So, the three of them rushed to the other restroom… only to discover there were urinals in what they thought was the women’s restroom.

They freaked out again and hurriedly rushed back to the actual women’s restroom.

As they took care of their restroom business, they suddenly discovered something new: There was no toilet paper in their stall.

Using sister teamwork (which they only do when there is no other choice), they quickly checked the other stalls to discover that none of them had toilet paper.

It was only later that we all discovered that Cuba is a “bring your own toilet paper to the bathroom kind of country. Who knew?

At first, my girls were thinking: “This is just wrong!”

Later, we went to get ice cream. Our local ice cream shop at home charges $4 for a single scoop of ice cream. In Havana, at the central, government-run ice cream shop (with lines down the street and around the corner), a single scoop costs $0.04.

Since the lines were enormous during the afternoons, I made the executive decision to go for ice cream for breakfast. We bought the ice cream ensalada (salad), which contained five scoops. Just for kicks, we bought one ice cream salad for each of the four of us.

That was 20 scoops of ice cream (yes, for breakfast…) for $0.80.

Kids Minds = Blown

Twenty scoops of ice cream for under $1.

In their minds: “This is so right!”

We also went to the beach where the locals go (not a resort). In the United States, beachfront housing is where the rich live. A home directly on the beach in California could easily cost $3 million to $80 million+.

Outside of Havana in the nearby beach town, the town looked extremely poor compared to Havana. There was a ton of trash in all the streets, unattended dogs wandering around, and an incredibly beautiful beach.

My Mind = Blown

We had dozens of similar experiences throughout our trip to Cuba.

I made the point that things in Cuba aren’t right vs. wrong, or better vs. worse, they are simply (very, very) different.

They all agreed.

In the world we live in, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking there’s only one correct way of thinking, one way of doing things, or even one way of being.

Social media usage maximization algorithms tend to show you only two things: 1) Content that reinforces your world view; and 2) Content that argues how stupid other world views are.

This approach is a fabulous way to drive social media usage and advertising revenue.

It is a terrible way to cultivate an open mind while building critical reasoning skills.

The best executives I know are the ones who lead from the perspective that they might be wrong and that there might be a better way to approach something.

Over the last seven years, my own professional development has led me to cross-train in other professions. I’ve trained with therapists, New York Times bestselling authors, EMTs (emergency medical technicians), firefighters, and search-and-rescue professionals. I also spend a lot of time with CFOs, venture capitalists, data scientists, and auditors.

They all do things quite differently.

Venture capitalists manage risks very differently than firefighters. Venture capitalists do so through deal structuring. Firefighters do so by having a plan, and a backup plan, and a backup plan for their backup plan.

Neither is right or wrong; they are simply different (and equally fascinating to me).

If you desire to progress higher in your career, your work becomes more about ideas, vision, and decision-making… and less about completing tasks, assignments, and doing pre-structured work.

The former requires a broader skillset.

There’s a time to go deep into an area. There’s a time to go broad across multiple areas.

There is no right answer for every person and every career. It’s simply a strategic option to be aware of and thoughtful about for your own career plans.

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