India, special India!
The time to bid our Goan “home” of 3.5 years goodbye!
In a blink of an eye 1219 fabulously exotic days which start with a view that (mostly) resembles a seaside paradise exploding with intensely colorful palettes of sunrises and sunsets as seen on “wish you were here” postcards and honeymoon catalogues, are coming to an end. The remaining 30 days of packing and relocating not only ourselves but also our dogs to Austria, are going to pass in an even brighter blur!
A room with a spectacular view – every day – even during the Monsoon!
What can I say?
My feelings on leaving here are mixed.
What I can say is that during my time here – in the dazzle and daze of hazy day to day events, high days and bright “holi”-days it hasn’t always been a honeymoon and at times I wish I wasn’t here. We have been undergoing real-time transformation in among the frustrations and fun of this “roll-er-coast-er” time.
It’s been a transformation adventure for sure!
#transformation: having undergone change with no possibility to return to the original form or shape – like when you… Read more
I visited Varanasi a few weeks ago. As promised it proved to be 3.5 days filled with fascinating fables, informative insights, metaphors and myths and what really preoccupied me afterwards was the mindset, or philosophy around dying – before and after death. It was a deeply introspective experience that, even without actually thinking about it, forced me to reflect on my own attitude and beliefs about life, and death. My more pragmatic self did some research and found facts relating to the business of burning bodies.
Among other things, I read that this custom and practice has almost depleted India’s own forests and they are now importing the wood from neighboring countries like Nepal. Considering the pyres are burning 24/7 and an average of 50 bodies get burnt a day, that is some business! And a huge, weighty demand for wood!
An environmental activist’s nightmare and, quite frankly, a matter of life, over death! Now!
Fast forward a week or two and I am talking to one of my clients in the EU which is expanding their business borders further East mentioning Nepal as one of their new sources of wood. And I think to myself…
I get the “machinery” of business. I get what is needed to make a business run, well-oiled, efficiently and effectively to maximize profits. I personally thrive on other businesses expanding their business borders because it calls for cultural collaboration which can only be achieved through cultural understanding and clarity in communication – my business. I get that everyone wants their share (fair or not) of the economic and consumer pie and when the local market gets too small or the region has run out of resources and stock, then businesses have to move on up and out – otherwise it is death to the business! I get that.
But, how much of all of this is done in the true wisdom and understanding that some ideas, traditions and customs need to be burnt, for the benefit our children’s futures? And their children?
And, just how much of all of this is as “sustainable” as businesses envisage, intend and promise?
Let’s face it. Business is a violent business. Success can be cut throat. Does it have to be this way? Do we even have choices?
A 10 minute read on how to master your cross-cultural competence, a good book recommendation, a short video and 6 empowering questions that guarantee collaboration!
I was asked, just this week, what I do. I told them. Someone then said: What exactly is that?
In a nutshell? Culture is the way things get done around “here” and the way things get done around there, and over there and also over there. My job is to support people in bringing their various ways of doing things, together. In biz talk? Two words: team alignment.
Culture – is known as folklore, habit, knowledge, lifestyle, way of life and development. It is taken from “cultura”(Latin) which comes from the verb “colo” or “colere” which means to tend, care for, look after and cultivate. It also means to till the soil, farm, grow and plant.
What do I do? I tend, look after and cultivate cross-cultural connections and collaboration through clarity in conversation.
Why? To facilitate a change for the better people need to change their thinking and to change collective thinking demands a change in the conversations they are having which then leads to a “rewiring” of the brain (mindsets) and which ultimately leads to aligning new (and better) behaviors because…
But first we need to understand that modern day cultures can be described as the outcome of many different external influences and circumstances as experienced by those who set up home up in various parts of the world l-o-o-o-n-g before you and I came along.
The lessons in survival that were endured by one clan in the Saharan sun and heat, and another tribe wading their way through steamy mangrove swamps, had to be completely different to those of a group freezing their way through the Siberian cold and dark winter, don’t you agree? And, the frequency of their repeated “lessons” became genetically imprinted values and norms over time. “Solutions” became and continue to become a part of our everyday lives – we adopt, adapt, integrate and embody new sets of skills so often that basic assumptions become an unconscious and unquestioned reality which we, mostly, take for granted.
Repeated behavior, healthy or not, becomes a collective programming and an unquestioned group think. It’s this group think that defines a culture and creates differences. #groupbias #whywestereotype
Why No One Answer Is Ever Right
Two men had an argument so they went to a Sufi judge to settle the dispute. The one made his case and was very persuasive in his reasoning. The judge nodded approval and said: “that’s right!”
The other man jumped up and said, “Wait a minute, you haven’t heard my side of the story!” The judge told him to make his case which he did, also with sound persuasive reasoning. The judge nodded approval and said: “that’s right!”
When the clerk of the court heard this he jumped up and said “Judge! They cannot both be right!” to which the judge replied, “That’s right”.
Just like truth is all around you there is no one answer that is right; what matters is where you put your energy and focus. And remember, the answers you get depend on the questions you ask.
So, what does this have to do with cross-cultural competence?
You tell me!
Wishing you an awesome week of finding alternative truths and new answers!
7 THINGS YOU’RE DOING THAT GET YOU MORE REJECTION THAN AFFECTION
An excerpt from The Collaboration Kickstarter which offers straight talking tips on how to get real heartfelt collaboration – right from the start!
You’ve got it made.
Compliments like “you’ve done/achieved/come far…” aptly praise whatever it is that you define as being a success – at this point of your life – and up to now you’ve systematically ticked off the things that lure and promise eternal rewards and recognition. But. Not everyone is buying and in some areas of your life – be it work or play – you’re getting more rejection than affection.
Family, friends and some colleagues are always going to support you with things you want and like to hear. That’s why they’re still on your party invite list. Unsavoury and un-nice behaviour can be dismissed with a host of adjectives. And, to support you, you live in a world that promotes and perpetuates wonderful and awe-inspiring you. But. You know and I know that you are still turning people off. Relax. You’re human and you really are awesome but you might be doing too much of one of the following: blowing your royal trumpet, taking too much, talking ill of others, too right, righteous and opinionated, making too many excuses, demonstrating favouritism, bias or racism, and last but not least, whinging too much. Which one is it?
Cultural core values are a huge big thing when it comes to honesty and harmony. Just like cultures differ in what they value as nice or not, some cultural groups demand a more straight forward tell it like it is way of talking while others, appreciate a more…
2016? Holy cow! It’s been a ride of “deestings”, unabashed trumpery, distractions and Being Nice Isn’t Enough!
Remember me telling you at the beginning of this year that sex and taking drugs, eating sleeping and doing good deeds had this “gimme more” effect. That you should get addicted to good deeds and the more you do it the more you want it? Do you remember my 3 to do’s and 5 reminders to help get you what you want? No? Then go here before you go making any new resolutions. Yes? Good. I’ll be adding a few more life hacks to those. Read on.
This 2482 word reflection is a no bullshit message of peace containing
– colorful cows, female distractions and other fun and sexy life lessons
– idiotic idiomatic and old English expressions
– a pre-view of a good book to read
– 4 tips on how to get others to start a sparkly collaboration revolution with you
– a peace mantra
all from an expat-in-India perspective.
You know what it’s like. Come the end of anything you start looking back, taking stock and perhaps, reflecting. Read more
A quick update on more of my kick-butt activities – including a keynote – between September and December 2016!
Sept to Dec 2016 – I arrived in Austria and had one day to get my head out of slow-go-Goa speed and into inspirational kick-butt training mode for a three day seminar with international project managers on communication and leadership of the multinational construction company, STRABAG AG. I love working with and engaging people from such diverse backgrounds. It was a wonderfully successful event with a lot of AHA moments, sharing of personal mishaps and successes and a coming together through the understanding of different values, acceptance of conflicts and developing trust. Then…
Tarra! Tarra! I’m doing some personal trumpeting (no trumpery)! On September 21st, 2016 I was invited to do a keynote speech at the United Nations in Vienna on the topic of my book Being Nice Isn’t Enough – a how to cut through the “niceties” and get to real cross-cultural collaboration. Again it resonated so well with the audience and the more they became involved the more excited I became! It was a beautiful and mutual exchange of information. I rocked – but not without a little help from my friends; my Pastor Matthew Laferty (ESUMC) and my husband Bernhard!
I also got to spread the written but not yet published word in seminars, workshops and one on one coaching with banking, legal and other professionals in the EU. A busy 2.5 months in the Autumn of 2016 and a wonderful opportunity to “dress up” again.
I returned to Goa end November to do the final tweaks on my non-fiction book manuscript and book proposal and submitted it mid-December to a publisher in the USA.
My final newsletter of 2016 with insights from India will follow shortly!
Lots of love and remember to kick some sparkly communication around, Hester
It’s official. It’s been announced!
I have been invited to do a keynote on why “Being Nice Isn’t Enough” (my new in the “sending-to-publishers-phase” book) when wanting to cultivate real cross-cultural competence, conversation and collaboration at…
wait for it…
the United Nations Women’s Group in Vienna, on the 21st of September 2016!
That’s BIG and (even if I say so myself) awesomely EXCITING!
OK, I must also admit that I am having a whole lot of fun today! Fun Friday!
I have been in the process of uncluttering my website and putting in the key message of all messages. The Being Nice Isn’t Enough! book/keynote/seminar/coaching message.
I have also been having fun with rewording my “about” page and found the words “rebel” and “sparkplug” and I want to “SALT” sparkplug everywhere to describe myself and what I do. A sparkly sparkplug!
More about my current work and writing…
“Being Nice Is Not Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration.” is aimed at the business reader who is working with culturally diverse teams or across borders “Being Nice Is Not Enough!” is going to change the way you communicate and connect with people – simply by mirroring and undoing some of your habits, bias’, patterns and language that no longer serves you! The unconscious internal glitches – that contribute to conflict rather than collaboration – that should get dumped in the ditches. (Thank you to my coach and mentor Kate Emmerson)
“Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration”, an international personal/leadership skills and (non-generic) business communication book is also written for non-academic readers including non-native English speakers involved in international interactions. Without “dumb-ing” it down too much “Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration” is written in a narrative and witty tongue-in-cheek style. It is a merging of my real-time “put-my-foot-in-it” trip-ups and intercultural feaux pas’ over the past 25+ years (yes I’m that experienced) of personal and international business experiences with my later studies and research on the fascinating albeit, at times, painfully embarrassing topic. The fact that I (and my son) were born into a post-apartheid culturally and politically changing South Africa also provides me with an experientially packed classroom! A wanderlust and attraction for the unknown fuelled by opportunities to work and live in foreign countries fill the chapters of “Being Nice Isn’t Enough!” This book provides humanly erring insights, reflections and practical answers to some of your cross-cultural questions – by undoing unhelpful habits and replacing them with good old guiding principles. An absolute must read when it hits the shelves!
I host “no-buts-kick-butt” authentically sparkplug keynote talks, seminars, team workshops and personal coaching on “Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration.” Get me, get us!
Consciousness vs. disregard describes one person who is aware and mindful that others from different backgrounds share the same values and have different ways of doing things, and disregard describes another person who demonstrates disinterest and detachment in their dealings or interactions with others from different countries.
This “disregard” only gives others the perception that you are (maybe) inconsiderate, biased and narrow minded when, in fact, you are not? Or are you? Is that how you want others to “see” you?
Or, do you get others? “Getting” others – is the ability to demonstrate a conscious “listening for” (not to), a consciously empathetic understanding for and good basic knowledge of other cultures. Can you?
Talking at, telling, instructing and using imperatives does not invite anyone into dialogue and shows a disregard for their involvement, worth and values. Are you doing this?
Are you showing consciousness? If yes, fantastic – you are a born cross-cultural collaborator! If not, don’t go into hiding!
Get me to help you become a cross-cultural collaborator with consciousness, courage and curiosity!
which you acquire through…
This will equip you to recognize, reflect and get what it is you desire.
I am a reach-beyond-your-limits life and communication enthusiast. A success coach and idea generator who helps aspiring and adventurous people like you to transform your personal and professional lives. If money, time, place and privacy are preventing you from getting the coaching or training you need please contact me. I can offer you a PWYW – pay what you want online program. If you send me an email put PWYW as subject.