Sunday, August 14, 2011

Life Changing Event

By Diahann Boock, MBA

When I was first asked to write on this topic, I was somewhat intimidated. Such a big topic and seemingly very personal. My mind raced from BIG events that were as game changing as the invention of the telephone to daily events that occur somewhat unnoticed, like what you missed because you were 10 minutes late due to the fact you arrived in your garage and found yourself wearing two different shoes. Something that you must remedy immediately. Movies seem to capture these dichotomies well. Obvious life changing events captured on film captivate our attention. Think about the movies It Could Happen to You, or Home Alone. Winning the lottery or forgetting your child will certainly leave a mark on your life. Conversely, Sliding Doors demonstrated a life’s path if they had just caught the noon train…or not. Each option creates a new branch of life.

But what life changing event would I be able to write about? Did I have any? Were there some of which I had control? I admit it took some thought, as when you are the one changing, it’s almost evolutionary and somewhat unconscious. But yet, there was a choice I made consciously that changed my life. I got a passport.

First, I never had any desire to travel where I needed a passport. I’d ventured throughout North America, where you could travel freely with your birth certificate. That seemed exciting and worldly. By comparison, it was far more travel than most people entertained. Someone asked me if I’d consider Europe and I responded “Why would I want to go somewhere that I’d have to spend 8 hours on a plane? That would take up two days of vacation, just traveling”.

Then it happened. While studying for my MBA the University offered an international study trip. A group of class members decided to take Europe by Storm. France, UK, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. School would last about 1 week and we’d bum around Europe for an additional two weeks. This is where it started: I needed a passport. I needed a backpack. I needed to plan. A lot of planning (very difficult for a non-detail oriented person).

The flight was uneventful, all you can really ask for in a flight. I slept like a baby. But, it took me about 10 minutes out of customs to realize there was a whole other world out there. I had been limited by my experience. Everything was different. I was visiting one continent with 5 different currencies, 5 different languages, 5 different histories, 5 different architectures, 5 different scents and 5 different tastes. The different list goes on and on. Every place I went was strikingly different than the place before. After this taste, I was hooked. Traveling is now my drug of choice. Something I had no desire to do became the thing I desired most.

Each destination has so much to offer. My most recent trip is always my favorite or best trip. These doses of others realities change my life before, during and after.

Before: I am made aware of ‘all’ there is in the destination. By studying, I have an idea of history and economy. I learn the cool vs. interesting. I sometimes have to go through rigorous pre-trip heath checks and shots to ensure my safety. The lesson is to be informed about your destination and understand their conditions.

During: Seems obvious, but it is easy to go places and do nothing. When there, one must take advantage of every minute of the opportunity. Some good, street festivals; some not to good, bull fights. The lesson is to be open to a different experience than you experience in the life you lead on a daily basis.

After: Photos. I relive every trip though thousands of photos. These help me determine where I must return some day. It also enables me to document great itineraries for others. I share my experiences with those who may never get to go and with others in comparison. Travel stories are always a welcome addition to most conversations and are often a great ice breaker when meeting new acquaintances. The lesson is to share the experience with others.

At this point, I do not remember not traveling to new, different and exotic destinations that require a passport. My goal is to explore all our continents; some over and over again. This is a life lesson that has made me aware. This is a life lesson that has thankfully taught me tolerance and acceptance. This life changing event is continuously giving with each travel experience I choose to make.

Diahann Boock, MBA is the President and founder of Women's Ally, Inc. Diahann is a career management strategist who is passionate about helping people realize their full potential. Considering we spend more than 100,000 hours of our lifetime working, succeeding beyond measure is an achievable goal with dedication, resources and allies to help you get there. She consults with employers and employees on how to be successful in the ever-changing workplace environment. You can reach Diahann directly at or 847.630.9901.

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