A few years ago while traveling in a hostel in Toronto, an Australian that I made friends with noticed I was fumbling through pockets for my passport.

“Do you mind if I take a look at that?” he asked.

After handing it over I watched him simply stare at the cover before looking through a few pages. Little did I know that the United States passport holds some of the greatest power for travelers in the world. He almost tugged a little on it when I reached back over the table for it because of the value it has for those bitten by wanderlust.

A recent news article published by CNN talked about the top ranking passports and how that small little book affords me access to 147 countries. It piqued my attention to search for this post from Traveller:

USA and UK passports are the most powerful, each possessing a total of 147 countries its citizens can visit without needing a visa.   Some of the least desirable passports are from Bhutan (40), Myanmar (28), Nepal (38), Afghanistan (38), Iraq (38) and North Korea (44). These countries can be notoriously difficult to get a visa for.

The weight of it hit me after reading about the different passports of the world. Especially those listed as “least desirable”. It means those who were simply born in a country have less ability to travel and see other parts of the world. Wow, that’s powerful.

I told myself, “There are 195 countries in the world, and I’ve only seen one.”

Sadness and excitement swept over me at once. It’s time to get busy.

When I think about role models, I usually think about someone like Steve Jobs. He was a brilliant contributor to technology and focused on personal growth along the way. Abraham Lincoln also comes to mind. He was a self-made man who taught himself everything he needed to know, and he did great things for America. I can think of plenty of people I’d like to shadow, but today, I want to be more like a baby.

Once you stick a baby in his playroom, it’s destroyed in a matter of minutes. There is no way the baby will simply play with the blocks you put out in front of him. After two minutes of blocks, he will be tearing books off the playroom bookshelf. Then, he’ll find his way to the nicely organized toy cars and start ramming them into the wall. Before five minutes are up, he will have also thrown his stuffed animals all over the room.

Babies are into everything they can get their hands on because they don’t yet know what makes them happy. Elementary aged kids don’t have it figured out either. If you ask a 3rd grader once a week what she wants to be for 10 consecutive weeks, you’ll probably get 10 different answers. Once we become adults, we are expected to instantly have it all figured out. By freshman year of high school, we should know what colleges we’re applying to. By senior year of high school, our major better be selected. Once we’re seniors in college, we are doomed for failure if we don’t have our first “real job” lined up.

What happens to those of us who don’t have it all blueprinted by the time the clock strikes midnight on our 18th birthday? We should aim to be like babies. Everything we can possibly get ourselves into, we should. If you aren’t happy in your career but don’t know what you want to do, join a Mastermind call or a professional networking group. For those who aren’t sure what to pursue an education in, take a semester off and travel abroad. Why continue living somewhere you aren’t happy? Live for a few months in a number of different cities.

As we get older, it becomes less socially acceptable to act like a baby. But when was the last time you saw a baby cry out of genuine unhappiness? They don’t. The only time babies make a fuss is when they’re hungry, tired, or need their diaper changed. Babies spend the rest of their time doing whatever they want to find happiness. They don’t care if their mom has to clean up the playroom; they’re exploring all their options, and no one is going to hold a baby back.

“I launched a Go Fund Me campaign, and I set a date for the first event.”

“After realizing I’ve taken on so much work, I raised my prices last week. People are still buying.”

“I took the first step towards becoming my manager self by hiring some people to do work for me.”

These statements are just a glimpse into what you might hear if you listened in on my weekly Mastermind phone call. Together, our group shares wins and challenges in both our personal and professional lives. We work through the struggles and triumphs together. We create business ideas together. We challenge each other to reach new heights.

I got the idea for this Mastermind group a few months ago. I was planning a weekend trip to the mountains. My friend, Jonathan, sent me a web, which mapped how the ten of us going on the trip were connected. That particular web stemmed from Jonathan; he had connected most of us together through dinner parties, weekend adventures, whatever.

It took me staring at the web for some time to realize that I have a network of my own. I initiated the Mastermind phone call to share that network with others and help connect people who can problem-solve, support, and challenge one another. This group of people has a burning desire to continually advance themselves. Each member knows that life is about people, and progress doesn’t happen solo.

Fast-forward a few months.

The calls have gained a reputation of their own. People are begging to be on the phone calls because they’ve heard about our high-engagement conversations. The business ideas created on these calls are now in the public eye. Never did I think when I started these calls at the beginning of 2015 that I would be getting paid to host them. Who would have imagined that people would be paying me to train them to form their own Mastermind groups?

My passion to develop leaders wouldn’t be very useful without a network of people to develop. Where have you set your sights? Chances are, your next goal can’t be reached without connecting with others. It’s time to break out that old, black phonebook- or your iPhone6- and reach out to the people in your life. You’ll be surprised at what comes next.

It’s no secret that the photos I take and post to social media seem to get a lot of attention from friends. Photographic journalism is a unique way for me to capture my life in more than just words. When I look back on a photo I took of somewhere in the world, local or foreign, I’m reminded of the entire context of the visit. Sounds, smells, sights and sensations are all bundled into that memory. Periodically looking back at my archive makes me appreciate the people and places I’ve been fortunate to see.

A nifty little post on the 50 states gives a short explanation as to some of the drive behind my madness to do so much travel but a main part of this is to simply record experiences.

A cool opportunity I see with my photos is to positively influence others to do something different outside of their daily routine. That’s how the #PlacesIveBeen campaign came to fruition. Simply a way to share a location that you’ve been which inspired you or is core to you in some regard.

If the “places you’ve been” are only local dives, cups of coffee at Starbucks or somehow commonplace in your mind, share it anyway. Your city doesn’t suck as much as you may think it does and it makes me sad to hear folks from most places bash their hometowns. Trust me that someone is paying to travel to where you are as we speak. Make an impact on the world and give others the opportunity to be a part of it.

No matter how small or big your place is I encourage you to post a photo in reply to this post and proudly tag it #PlacesIveBeen.

The world is waiting to hear from you.

My dirty secret is that I fix an asterisk in the title of events where I know either myself or others will be late. Why do I do this? For sanity. The drill sergeant in my head barks orders like, “Don’t be late, jerk. It’s time to leave. Stop scrolling through Pinterest. Your mother didn’t raise you this way.” By the time I beat myself over the head enough to leave the house I’ve also grown a shiny sense of entitlement. Showing up at our meeting location 15 minutes early is an Act of God.

Guilty party speaking here: I’m not always the best at showing up on time for personal meetings. First hand I see the effects it has on myself and others. It took enough psychological effort to pull off an early arrival that the dictator persona is now active; Ready to deliver twenty lashings to any late-comers. That’s not fair to anyone else because there are great reasons for being late.

Adulting Is Tough: Love Your Late Friends

  1. Late people are time economists. We are fearful or anxious about arriving too early with nothing to do. Efficient people problems.
  2. Late people are deeply mindful. Sometimes we get engrossed in a great conversation, flow state with our work or an enjoyable hobby. We never complain when these people are in the same room with us sharing their gift of immersion.
  3. Late people feel guilty. As we rush through the door after everyone else has arrived our apologetic behavior is only a clue. Even though it may not seem like it in the moment I’ve noticed many struggle with Type-A vs. Type-B. Each world is different but it can coexist after a bit of effort on everyone’s part.

Ask For Permission Instead of Forgiveness

Try scheduling flex meetings for events that may not be time sensitive. According to my research, a person is late 12-24 minutes on average. What works best for me is to 1.5X the time I allow for the event then block off the whole slot. A lunch invite sounds a little more like, “Hey, let’s grab quinoa kale citrus salads at noonish (12:00-12:15). I have a few things I’m working on so I’ll tote them to our meeting. Keep me updated on your arrival.” That way it combats the drill sergeant effect, occupies my pea brain and comes across friendlier.

Being up front about your flexible timing makes it easy to gain control over your awesome schedule. If neither party is in a rush to choke down a mochachocafrappalatte at your local cafe, why plan it that way? As I browse my calendar there’s a 45 minute meeting scheduled to catch up with a friend over Mexican. “Yeah, that’ll be enough time to gorge three baskets of chips, catch up on two months of backlogged conversation and feed my taco baby!” C’mon.