People often dream of being able to travel with their family for an extended time. But many business leaders are unwilling or unable to step away for even a week let alone a year. It can be done and without too much stress. Recently on my podcast YPO 10 Minute Tips From the Top, I interviewed Sam Goodner, founder and former CEO of Catapult Systems, who sold his company and took a year to travel the world alongside his family.
Goodner, a member of Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), is also married to a successful entrepreneur so when they got married they knew they were destined for an enterprising and exciting life. Upon the birth of their first child, they decided they would take their kids around the world for a year inspiring them to become successful world citizens.
Ten years later they achieved their goal thanks to commitment and a lot of planning. But the rewards for the whole family were more than worthwhile. They blogged about the whole experience and here are some of the simple lifetime benefits this trip brought for their children.
1. You will connect with diverse cultures and families.
When rooted to your business and everyday normal life, you lose sight of the vast amount of knowledge and experience out there waiting for you in the world. Goodner's travel allowed the family to interact with new cultures thanks to his connections with YPO. They took a proactive approach to using their network and it paid off. "Every time we reached out to a connection, they said 'please come over to our home and a three-hour lunch or dinner became a six to seven-hour experience.'" Goodner's family got to see how similar families lived in over a dozen countries.
2. Everyone gets a chance to learn at their own pace.
The Goodners used home schooling techniques to keep the children on track with their education. While there were concerns about getting behind, the process actually accelerated their learning. "A day of schooling included writing their journal, doing an hour of math and reading on top of it," said Goodner about the kind of learning he and his kids did while away. "They did three years of math in one year. They did two years of math and read 50 books and are now writing at a high school level."
3. Your kids will gain confidence and maturity.
Not only did the children advance their academic studies, the real life lessons they learned from the adventure taught them about culture, diversity, preparation, planning, communication and much more. Both children, according to Goodner, grew as much stronger and independent people. Perspectives change and confidence grows. "Before leaving, my daughter who was in third grade, would always say to me, 'You know daddy, I'm not good at math,'" revealed Goodner. "She was convinced that math was not her thing. My son, on the other hand, would stare at a paper for hours. It was an agonizing process. After the trip, my daughter came back with the confidence beaming. And my son now, I have to slow him down. The writing block is completely gone."
4. Sibling compatibility will develop.
Everyone knows that the nightmare for parents is seeing their children constantly waging a war against one another. At home, they each have their own territory that they stake out and protect fiercely. On the road however, they have to share a lot more, and since they are now joined at the hip for a year, they learn to appreciate each other. "I look back when I was their age, and I had a normal relationship with my younger sister, which is to say we fought all the time," Goodner explains. " I look at my kids and really their only real play friend was each other. And now they have a delightful relationship with each other."
5. Family bonds will strengthen.
In regular life, families tend to spend less time with one another than they do with colleagues or classmates. Emotional distance grows over time. Traveling with your family for a year means that you will be spending more time with one another than anyone else. That alters the dynamics with surprising results. Goodner explains that his children suddenly had no fears about calling him out for example. Ultimately the connection grew and was lasting. "Our family took a big step up in connectedness. Our dynamic as a family got deeper and deeper. Those are the memories you cherish the most," elaborated Goodner. "They happened in beautiful locations but it was because of the family dynamic, not the location."
Each week on his podcast, Kevin has conversations with members of the (YPO), the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.