This article originally appeared at Forbes.com.
It’s that time of year. Your focus is somewhere out there. And, while you might feel guilty for leaving the office, vacations are necessary. They are stress relievers, rechargers and actually great ways to reinvent and elevate your work to the next level.
A global study conducted by Forbes Insights, the O.C. Tanner Institute and the Cicero Group looked at 1.7 million cases of award-winning work to identify five things people do to help create a difference people love.
Since our minds are already out there on vacation, we sought out vacation destinations that mirror the findings of the study. Each location offers “souvenirs”—fresh perspectives that help you create award-winning work.
Award-winning workers ask the right questions
Vacation destination: Washington, D.C.
Snicker all you want about whether or not the best answers have come out of the United States government. We applaud it for asking the best question: “Should our country be run by its people?”
A vacation through our nation’s capital makes it impossible not to ask better questions — to reach into the past and think of our founding fathers. To better understand our legislative systems. To visit the resting places of men and women who have lived and died to protect our freedom. Just a brief mention of these things stirs the mind to bigger questions, to other solutions, to hurdles that have been and need to be overcome. It’s these types of bigger questions that spawn great work, innovation and exploration into possibility.
Award-winning workers go see for themselves
Vacation destination: Scottsdale, Arizona
“It’s a dry heat,” they say. And, they’re right. However, a summer in Scottsdale still can be brutal under the sun at 115 degrees. But until the heat hits those crazy-high temperatures, locals will tell you that a dry 105 degrees isn’t all that bad. However, you’ve got to go see for yourself. Early in the summer, tourism in Arizona quickly diminishes as “snowbirds” head back to their homes. Hotel rates drop and resorts begin offering outstanding vacation package deals.
Award-winning workers practice “Going to see for themselves.” They want to find out for themselves that 105 degrees in Scottsdale feels like 80 degrees in Illinois. They want to see things, smell things and analyze the situation for themselves so that they can tweak, fine-tune and truly create a difference people love.
Award-winning workers connect with their outer circle
Vacation destination: Venice Beach, California
Somehow, within a 2.5-mile stretch of beachfront, pedestrian-only promenade, there exists one of the most diverse gatherings of people in the world. Venice Beach is notorious for circus-like street performances, skateboard parks, arts, music and just plain obscurity. Strike up a conversation with someone in Venice Beach and you have no idea what kind of perspective you’ll get as a response — rich, poor, rational, righteous or riff-raff. The beachfront is definitely a playground for different ideas.
Award-winning workers seek different opinions. They take their ideas out and share them with others who could approach their project with a completely different lens on life or business. They connect and converse with their outer circles.
Award-winning workers change the mix
Vacation destination: Austin, Texas
As the capitol city of Texas, Austin offers a unique mix to vacationers. The city’s rich western history somehow merges seamlessly with progressive growth in technology and business. But there’s something about Austin that truly separates it from just any big city — it’s been dubbed “the live music capitol of the world.” The sounds that fill the air in Austin truly make it a globally unique “must visit” destination.
Award-winning workers understand that adding to the mix creates the differences people love. Yes, Austin would be a great destination without the music. It’s a beautiful city with a billion things to do and see. But it’s the addition of live music that puts it over the top. Award-winning workers look for opportunities to add or subtract from their mix — tinkering until their project is over the top.
Award-winning workers deliver the difference
Vacation destination: New York, New York
Frank Sinatra said it best: “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.” Known as the “city that never sleeps,” New York City has energy like no place else on earth. It’s a vacationer’s dreamland, with Broadway musicals, Radio City Music Hall and more mental stimulation than a person can imagine. New York City is a place of constant change — with a focus on improvement.Comment on this story
New York City emulates (with precision) one the five skills that award-winning workers do — they chase the difference they want to make, and then do it again. They never give up.
Even with hurdles and tragedies, New York City moves forward. After the attacks of 9-11, the city (and our country) felt a blow beyond imagination. Today, Freedom Tower stands as a symbol of resilience.
No matter where you go on your vacation, plan on bringing home ideas as souvenirs — fresh perspectives that can help you at work to create a difference people love.
David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom work with the O.C. Tanner Institute. Learn more about The New York Times bestseller "Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love" (McGraw-Hill) at www.greatwork.com.