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Learning from Italian pizza

The Dragonfly is travelling at the moment.

Travel has amazing potential to open our eyes to new ways of thinking and new ways of understanding the world we live in. But it takes an inquisitive mindset to reap these benefits, in travel as well as in life and in our organisations.

As Alain de Botton points out in his book On Travel – many people travel but never leave home. He suggests “the pleasure we derive from travel is perhaps more dependent upon the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to”.

A willingness to seek and embrance the new and different (a adventurous and inquisitive mindset) can completely alter the way we see the world.

In this way as Mark Twain said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”.

An oppostite mindset will also determine how we interpret and understand the world. For example, while a friend of mine was travelling for the first time to the northern hemisphere some years ago and delighting in the new and the different, a friend sent her a quote saying “no one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow”.

Living with the ‘familiar’ is one way many people find security and comfort in their world. A question that comes to mind however is when we become habituated to the ‘familiar’ do we become blind to what is around us, and what undiscovered opportunities may exist?

Italian pizza is an example of this. In Australia, what’s familiar is pizza with a thick cheesy base, with layers of toppings and multiple flavours all thrown on together. In Italy, a traditional pizza has a thin base, some cheese and tomato paste, and maybe a few anchovies or olives. That’s it. At first glance, when compared to what’s familiar, it looks like there’s hardly anything there. But the pizzas in Italy are the best I’ve ever tasted.

The unfamiliar stops us in our tracks and makes us uncertain. We feel far more comfortable with the known, even if the known is not necessarily better.

So my question is, what would our lives and our organisations look like it if we actively sought difference and new ways of thinking? If we looked at the world with our eyes open, with a curious mindset (as we can tend to do when we travel)? What possibilities might open up that we hadn’t thought of before?

What if, rather than using difference to validate our current familiar existence, we used it to question whether there was a better way?

We can’t live our lives travelling all the time. But we can embrace a traveller’s mindset and use it to fuel new ideas.

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