The Cultural Synergist - Issue 6 July 2008
Welcome to The Cultural Synergist
Welcome to the Cultural Synergies July 2008 newsletter.
The Cultural Synergies Team
One Saturday afternoon, after having returned from Europe my wife and I decided to hold an impromptu dinner party and invite some friends who were well overdue for a catch-up.
I was sitting next to a friend who had also recently returned from an overseas business trip. Before long our conversation had moved from the �what have you been up to� to comparing notes on how we were managing our current jetlag and depleted energy levels that we commonly experience for a couple of days on our return from business trips. Although neither of us came up with a definitive solution, it did start me thinking about the pressures of overseas business travel that many of us face on a regular basis.
Travel overseas in a business context requires us to disembark from the plane and head straight into work mode, forget tiredness, exhaustion and the fact that we may have crossed multiple time zones, we need to switch into the new environment almost in an instant from the moment we step out of the airport. Have you ever stopped to think how amazing this is? We can be immersed in another culture, language and unfamiliar surroundings and almost in an instant modify our behaviour and attitudes to adjust to our new environment. We usually don�t have time to experience �culture shock�, jetlag and the usual experiences that often accompany overseas travel.
The dinner conversation led me to consider that possibly it isn�t until we return home where life has remained relatively the same while we have been away, that we experience some delayed reactions to our travel. We have all heard about culture shock but there is less discussion about reverse culture shock. Life on the road can be full of exciting people, places, five star hotels, business class travel, new business opportunities and so on.
Regardless of the length of time or what part of the world I have been, re-entry is a process that I more often than not, always go through on my return, especially after extended trips.
It is probably worth mentioning here that even when we arrive home there is little time to reflect on the re-entry processes because more often than not we are straight into our roles as husband/wife/mother/father/employee etc . Which are all wonderful and grounding and usually very different from the experiences and mode that we have been operating in while away. Overseas business travel requires a lot of mental and physical energy at both ends and perhaps it is worth taking some time out occasionally to allow ourselves time to reflect, readjust and re-energise.
My question is how do we constantly maintain the required levels of energy and intensity over long periods? It is a key challenge for people working in global roles and is one that requires some acknowledgement and awareness, particularly if this is to be sustainable.
The conversation with my friend highlighted to me that by just being aware and responsive to my jetlag and re-entry phase and allowing myself some to time to readjust makes an enormous difference to me. I find that I am able to generate and sustain better levels of energy that help with both my travel and home life.
I have listed some of the strategies that I employ on my re-entry. They work for me on several different levels � emotional, physical, psychological and personal levels:
'The Cultural Synergist' team would like to hear from you.
- I always find that walking the dog allows me some physical grounding, exercise and usually some sunshine.
- Getting into the home/family routine quickly. This maybe sitting down to a meal, playing with the kids, or just helping out with what needs to be done in the moment.
- Having a debriefing session with an associate within 48 hours. It is a good time for reflection and clarity.
- Allowing some one on one time with my wife, usually over a lunch or dinner within 48 hours. It is good for us to reconnect and discuss what has happened in our lives during the time that I have been away.
- Unpacking within 24 hours - even if I am flying out again soon.
- Going to the local neighbourhood store to get connected with the community.
- Reading the local newspaper to get attuned with what has been happening.
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What Got You Here Won�t Get Your There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful! Marshall Goldsmith, 2008 Profile Books.
Marshall Goldsmith is corporate America�s pre-eminent Executive Coach and teacher. He has authored many books and articles and been on many best-seller lists. I always find his work inspiring and dynamic.
Goldsmiths latest book �What Got You Here Won�t Get You There� is a book about just that. The habits that you formed that succeeded in getting you to a certain stage won�t necessarily continue to bring you success. In other words the qualities and drive that got you to a particular stage can prevent you from getting to the next stage. An example Goldsmith gives is the excessive need to win - this can be a great driving force in one part of your career, but for example as a manager/leader it can hinder your ability to listen and learn from others which can limit your continued growth.
Goldsmith discusses twenty habits that he believes can potentially limit us from reaching our full potential. More often than not they are simple behavioural habits that can be addressed by a few basic steps. The final section of the book focuses on how we can change for the better with seven easy to follow steps.
I found this book both inspiring and helpful on both a personal and professional level.
'The Invisible Elephant - Exploring Cultural Awareness', 2nd Edition by Tom Verghese
Many aspects of culture are invisible, yet culture has an enormous impact on our lives. Like an Invisible Elephant, if ignored these aspects can lead to misunderstanding, stress and conflict. Alternatively, if attention is given to the Invisible Elephant, it can enhance productivity, improve teamwork and create more joy in our lives.
Book testimonial by Asma Ghabshi, Learning And Development Manager, Shell Oman:
"The Invisible Elephant made my perspective of my national culture in comparison to my personal culture more visible. It has given me a deep insight into dealing with people of different cultural backgrounds."
'Pillars of Growth - Strategies for Leading Sustainable Growth' - Book by Tom Verghese, Kerry Larkan, Steven Howard and Brad Tonini
Written with the business leaders and entrepreneurs of Asia in mind, 'Pillars of Growth' provides a road map to assist you in thinking through four critical concerns that impact the sustainable growth of every business.
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