April 6, 2020
I caught up with a friend of mine recently who had just returned to Australia from Vietnam. She was in Vietnam for six months on a teaching assignment. She is an academic who works at universities. She’s originally from the United States and has lived in Australia for the last couple of years. We were talking about her time in Vietnam. During the conversation, one of the things she related was about her first trip to China because her next assignment was actually going to be in China.
As she was telling me the story of her first trip to China, she was explaining to me that during the first week of being on campus, she felt totally overwhelmed and felt out of place. Now granted, in the first week, when you’re in a new country for the first time, there is a different language and a completely new culture to adapt to. However, the thing that really got to her, that was really bugging her was the fact that she couldn’t find coffee. Coffee is very much part of her daily ritual. Those of you who are familiar with China, know the Chinese tend to drink tea. They drink far more tea than coffee, so at the university, she just couldn’t find coffee.
She was then relating a conversation she had with her husband towards the end of that first week where she was saying to him, ‘you know, I think I probably made a mistake taking this assignment. This is going to be a terrible assignment. I can’t find coffee. I’m feeling really low about it.’ This was a state of mind. The next day after that conversation, she happened to meet another academic who was from Europe. In fact, the person was Italian. She said to this person during the conversation, ‘I really can’t find coffee.’ This Italian person said, ‘oh, yes you can and this is the particular place that you will get coffee, and it’s reasonably good.’ Off my friend went to get her coffee, and it just made her day. In fact, it made her whole year because she stayed on that assignment for a year.
This example shows it’s really important for us to appreciate and understand that we all have rituals. Rituals can help ground us in what we’re doing. I want you to think about what some of the rituals that help you become a high performer are? Is it coffee? Is it a certain type of music that you listen to? Is it doing some form of exercise? What is it that helps ground you? How do you keep yourself grounded? How do you maintain equanimity in the process? In other words, while everything is happening around you, how do you keep yourself calm? That’s my reflection question for you – what are some of the rituals that you have in play to help you?