Are my thoughts and actions a reflection of my own cultural frame of reference?
The answer: Simply yes or no. There, that was easy. Moving on.
Are you satisfied with the answer? Does it offer true enquiry, or just tick the box of self assessment without doing any actual work. Try this:
How are my thoughts and actions a reflection of my own cultural frame of reference.
Ahh, now we’re getting somewhere. We can elaborate and reflect on the true essence of the question, one that asks us to explore our reactions to settings or circumstances that are foreign to us. It’s a little extra work, but the return on investment is exponential.
One benefit of travel, either for work or pleasure is that parts of your experiences will stick to you, never to be forgotten. The layers will build into a rich tapestry of knowledge and understanding.
Let the moss grow on you. It will soften any stoney exterior. The more you roll, the more you will absorb.
Learning has never been more accessible. The questioning that arises from it has never been more imperative. False triggers play to your prejudices. It’s natural to have them, but be strong enough to challenge them.
This skill is vital to being a leader or manager in a global setting.
“I see no more than you. The difference is I have trained myself to understand what I see”
The trick to dealing with the initial fear we encounter when we see, hear or experience events that challenge us, is the constantly be curious about what’s at play. Leave the fear to run it’s course, and you shut yourself off from any learning at all
Like me, you may have delivered hundreds of programs in support of families and individuals embarking on international assignments. All walks of life, all situations. All excited, many apprehensive.
There is no way to know what to expect. This should be one part that still excites you about the work. It comes with trepidation of course. You will never know what to expect. Will this be the time you can’t deliver the very best you have?
Knock boldly. Announce confidently. These people need more than ever to see strength in your support of them. Don’t let them down.
I recently found myself killing time with yet another breakfast on the road. I was heading to meet another wonderful family that were preparing for their next expat adventure across the waves. I settled into my seat and cast my eyes around this now familiar Starbucks location. It was then I noticed a couple sitting on the other side of the store, and I recognized them straight away. I had also been a part of their preparation to take up a short term assignment in Australia a few years earlier. I debated a while as to whether I should disturb them, but that decision was made for me as they got up to walk out and he took a second glance at me, with that knowing look of recognition.
It didn’t take long to reconnect. They seemed very excited to sit and share their experience, which I was extremely eager to hear. They started out by very generously thanking me for how much better prepared they felt after going through the cultural training day with me. I remembered them to be very confident ahead of the assignment, but also having the usual concerns and reservation that creep into the mind ahead of such a move. More importantly, I got to hear how much they enjoyed living and working in Australia. They enthusiastically spoke of the land, the people, the culture. They reported many instances where they had used some of the tips and tools I had provided for them to engage and open themselves up to the Aussie way of life. They had gotten to travel to other surrounding countries and shared how much of an effect connecting with so many different cultures had on their children. They expressed an understanding in now seeing their own culture through a different lens.
In this wonderful work I get to do, I often catch myself deep in thought in how the people I train and prepare move through their experiences. Sometimes we are lucky to keep in touch directly, or indeed get to follow up through online journals and blogs. This time however, I got to connect in person and see the results right in front of me. It was very humbling. Right here I would also like to take the time to mention my fantastic colleagues at Aperian Global who’s passion and commitment to excellence has been unmatched in any business I have previously been involved in. The support that comes from this wonderful team of people goes a long way in allowing me to undertake this vocation with the utmost pride.
Have you ever been involved in training or coaching and seen the results first hand? I love to hear about it. Please leave a comment. Remember to check out my Down Under and Beyond podcast on Stitcher or iTunes
For more on the great work of Aperian Global, visit http://www.aperianglobal.com
Of course, meeting and marrying a native of Poland was always going to bring me to this country. From my very first trip there it has captivated me through it’s architecture, culture, traditions and (at times troubled) history. From my Australian orientated lens, it has at times been mind boggling to wrap my brain around the long timeline of events that have shaped this land and its people. Early on I committed myself to learning to speak the language (OK even if my first motivations were to impress a girl!) I searched and found books on the country. From coffee table picture books through to novels such as “Poland” by James A. Michener. I sat inquisitively in the presence of my wife’s family and friends, eager to learn how they thought and acted in their daily lives. This was no more valuable when it was with her parents. Both old enough to remember the very darkest of days, when much of their time was devoted with simply trying to stay alive. But they always expressed joy and thankfulness for what they had.Many observe the people of Poland from the outside and consider them a little cold and unfriendly. In the world of cross cultural training, this is analogous to the coconut. The somewhat hard exterior, once cracked, exposes a warmth and generosity that is genuine and heartfelt.
So there will be more on this subject in the future, but for now, I can only say that you should if you are fortunate enough to travel, take time to at least add a short visit to some part of Poland and just see what I mean. I can recommend many places, some on the usual tourist trek, others not so mainstream, that will leave you with a lasting impression of this beautiful country.
A few weeks ago, a fellow Australian contacted me with a question; he’s thinking about retiring and fancies moving a bit closer to the rest of the world. How should he choose where to live?
I pondered. Budapest, Paris and Istanbul are the only places I really chose, without any particular push from study, work or life. And those were relatively spontaneous decisions. But sifting through what I’ve learnt from moving around so much, I realised I do have some general thoughts
There are a couple of things I won’t get into. The first is cost of living, it’s important, but it’s also utterly dependent on your fabulous wealth or lack thereof. If you want a comparison, just visit one of the many sites – I like Expatistan – and research the city of your dreams. And I won’t discuss hot vs. cold, ocean vs. mountains and other personal preferences. Pour over…
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I reckon this is a great example of how you can engage in a cpouple of different passions. Travel, volunteering, international study and indeed serving those in need. What’s your thoughts?
I’ve always been told that when I give back, I have three resources I can share: time, talents, and treasure. While it’s great to support organizations and ministries through donations, there is nothing more influential than actually digging in with your own two hands and helping a worthy cause. If you search blogs, you’ll find a number of people who have given up time from work to serve in a community at home or abroad. Some of my favorites include:
- Partners for Peace – a husband and wife duo serving with the Peace Corps in Ecuador
- Soulshine Traveler – a woman who left her job to volunteer in Latin America and Russia for the past year
- Clearing Customs – a recently returned missionary figuring out the transition back into American life
Unlike these great bloggers, unfortunately I am not in a place in life where I can go abroad for…
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