Leadership lessons learned from abroad!

Hello, leader!

If you’ve been following my Instagram stories (@DrDeniseSimpson) and Lead with Intent Facebook show, then you know I’ve been abroad for the past three weeks.

From Austin, TX to Israel to England, then to Wales, back to England, then to France (by ferry), back to England and now patiently awaiting one more flight and then our return to the US. Phweeee! That’s mind-blowing!

As I write this email to you, I’m in my hotel room in Southampton, England awaiting a flight to Manchester. When I wrapped up breakfast this morning, I couldn’t resist but to take a moment to revel in the most delightful and awe-inspiring introspection this trip as provided me.

Honestly, after this trip, I feel like a different person. I left the US over-cautious, myopic thinking, self-conscious person and returning a more fluid, less rigid, graceful person. If you allow me a few minutes, I would like to explain and share three insights from this trip.

An agile mind will prepare you for anything.
The thought of a three week, multi-country excursion for business (no vacation here, folks!) would send some people in a frenzy. Not me! Well, that would have been the case had I not mentally prepared for the trip.

You see, about four weeks before our departure, I prepared with agility exercises. Not the physical kind, like yoga or stretching. Although that is also important for extended travel, I prepared with mental agility exercises like practicing mindfulness, patience, and the ability to stretch the boundaries of my comforts.

Once the logistics were planned and organized, I was able to sit back and enjoy the multi-country ride. I was able to be present in the moment and appreciate the culture and people. Moreover, when things were out of my control, like the time we got stuck in the elevator with a family from Belgium, I remained calm. I would not have been able to respond in this manner had I not prepared mentally for circumstances beyond my control. I traveled with ease and grace which allowed me to enjoy the three-week adventure.

Follow your passion obsessively.
I have always said if you follow your passion, you’ll never work a day in your life. This trip was a beautiful reminder of how to live and work with gusto! I followed my husband, co-host and the entire crew filming a WWII documentary throughout Normandy, France.

Even though I didn’t have a technical role to play, I was along to watch from behind the scenes. Every time the director would call ‘action,’ I would gasp for air watching them banter passionately and intoxicatingly.

It reminded me of my “Why.”

  • Why I left higher education as an administrator and professor to start my online leadership academy and private coaching firm.
  • Why I’m taking such great risks to reach a new level of success as an entrepreneur.

It reignited the passion that can only come from living a life of purpose to serve and empower others. It comes from the depths of your soul.

There is no “I” in team, for a reason!
As I wrote above, I followed my husband and the film crew throughout England and France while they filmed a documentary. Although I was happy to be lugged around in the crew’s van, I had my laptop out in case inspiration would strike me. Many times, it did!

I marveled in how this crew worked fluidly and gracefully between takes. They minded each other's expertise and respected each others role on the team. They were true professionals each with very impressive portfolios. They were mobilized to contribute to a joint mission to show the world through documentary a unique perspective to WWII. They worked collectively to make a great film come to life.

I was reminded why there is no “I” in team and how great leaders don’t need to make themselves known. All they need to do is trust they mobilized a team with shared passion, respect, and professionalism to get the job done.

These were just a few of the many insights I had on this memorable trip. Next up, the US!

Please join me Live this Thursday at 1 p.m. Central for another Lead with Intent show on my Facebook Page.

Until then, live in service and leadership!


Denise Simpson, Ph.D.

Life and Leadership Coach



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