We all live in bubbles, no matter where you work and live.

Your department might be a bubble, never really engaging with the other departments and understanding their challenges.

Your company might be a bubble, rolling along nicely, respected by the market, the analysts, and the business community. Until the day you have to declare bankruptcy. Just ask Blockbuster.

You might live in a bubble within your community. Not knowing the neighbors, not interested to improve the overall community, not caring about anything but your own family. Until the day you need help and nobody cares about you.

It’s easy to live in a bubble, quietly getting on with your own life in comfortable semi-isolation.

You need to get off your butt and leave the bubble.

Find ways to have as many professional conversations with anyone outside of your department. Have as many chats about something with anyone. It doesn’t have to be about work, it can be about sports, the last book you read, the latest song you love.

Talk with competitors. Make contacts at conferences and invite them to lunch. Have a chat about the competitive landscape, be open about your problems and concerns. This is not about spying, this is about learning from each other.

Meet your neighbors. I’ve lived in apartment buildings where I never talked to my neighbors. And I regret that. I’m grateful to know people that go to sleep close to my own bed. A brief chat can make the day brighter. Someone to ask for a favor makes life easier. Feeling a sense of community is an important part of the human experience.

Never stop doing this.

People don’t get old by default. People get old when they lose touch with the outside world. They don’t get challenged anymore, they don’t talk to enough people to learn things they didn’t know. They get scared of the world, just experience it through their self-constructed bubble.

Leave the bubble as often as you can. Or, one day, you won’t find the way out.