My wife and I recently visited London and Paris. Here are a few things I learned along the way that can be applied to sales and business:

Have a tour guide. We visited Windsor Castle and hired a private tour guide. It made the visit immensely better. Tony was an expert on the Castle and English history. He was funny and engaging. He was also able to get us into areas that are not generally open to the public. He knew his way around. Most people visiting the Castle pay to have the audio program as part of their tour. The audio, like books, is better than nothing, however, you can’t ask it questions specific to your interests and needs. In contrast, when in Paris we went to the Louvre.  Not only did we not have a guide, but they were out of both maps and the audio guides. We were on our own. Now if you’ve ever been there, you know that the Louvre is massive. While we enjoyed it, we were at times wondering aimlessly and trying to figure out where we were and where to go next. This is okay when touring a museum, not so when running a business or in the middle of a sales opportunity. Having a tour guide is like having a coach in sales, business or some other aspect of life.

Change your seat, change your perspective. On our first day in Paris, we went to the lounge area in our hotel for afternoon tea and cheese. We had a great area to ourselves right in front of the fire place. The next day when we went back, that area was occupied. At first were bummed. We moved to another area opposite from where we sat the day before. And we had a new and different view of the surrounding area. As I sat there I thought, “what a great metaphor for life.” Are you sitting in the same seat, so to speak, every day? What are you missing by doing so? What can you do to shift your perspective?

Get comfortable with uncertainty. When you’re dealing with planes, trains and automobiles, foreign currencies and in places where you speak a different language, the unknown is ever present. I freely admit that I’m a work in progress in dealing with uncertainty, a perceived lack of control. There were moments during the trip where I was rattled (just ask my wife). The truth is virtually everything is uncertain and always has been. Getting comfortable with the unknown is almost a prerequisite for success in this day and age. How comfortable are you with uncertainty?

Preparation counts. Yes, most things are uncertain, however, it is a good idea to be prepared. Take the weather for example. The weather in England and France this time of year is damp and chilly. It rains frequently. This is the opposite of what it’s like where I live (Colorado).  The weather didn’t matter to us because we knew what it would be like and we prepared appropriately with the right clothing.  In sales, your prospect/customer always has the option of doing nothing. Are you prepared to deal with this? As you look at your week, where do you need to prepare more?

There is nothing to fear but fear itself (Franklin D. Roosevelt). You’re going to Europe?? Now?? Paris??? What about terrorism? I heard this frequently leading up to our trip. I don’t bury my head in the sand and I’m well aware of what’s happening. That said, I don’t buy into all the fear being propagated.  We always felt safe and based upon the crowds everywhere we went, fear wasn’t stopping other people from enjoying the journey.  A quote attributed to Mark Twain reads, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”  Where is fear and worry getting in your way?

What have you learned from your travels?