Monthly Archives: May 2011

Waking up an artist in you — expat lifestyle opportunity… and a learning opportunity

One of the common advices an accompanying expat spouse receives in response to her/his concern about losing a career/job is this: “Enjoy your hobbies while you have this great chance.  Look at what you love to do and do it.”  It’s a great suggestion and many newly-unemployed expats have definitely found a peace of mind in taking up pottery, painting, writing, or stamp collection.  Finally all of those things they’ve been meaning to do their entire lives were at their fingertips and they had time and resources to do them!

Then a few months later a few of us “impact-oriented” people (me included!) started to wonder.  So here I am painting away (or writing or creating pottery or sewing) and isn’t this the time when I am supposed to be getting really good at this — my new craft, professionally-speaking?  I mean I’ve always been successful at my work, I’ve advanced and made more money in my career almost every year so isn’t this the time to start booking galleries or creating my fall fashion line?  And if not, then why am I doing this?  Why am I spending all this time and resources on doing something that’ll never create any impact in the outside world and will never make me money?

This is when the old familiar voice of doubt starts getting louder.  Maybe this new painting I am making is going to be really bad.  Should I change this color or should I add this color or should I… just quit the whole thing and do what I am good at — find work and immediately begin putting in 60-hrs weeks to catch up on what I’ve missed?  The hobby I’ve taken suddenly takes the form of some race I am supposed to win and every day I am more and more afraid to screw up the canvas.

Has anything like that happen to you?  It certainly has happened to me — and it continues to happen once in awhile.

What do I do?

I go back to a great metaphor my coach and I created.

I see myself as a child playing in a sandbox, building a castle.  The castle isn’t coming out the way I’ve wanted and so I level it to the ground.  “It’s just sand,” I hear my child say and begin to build the castle again. Playing is the main point here.

Allowing yourself to play is the biggest gift and the biggest learning — and that learning comes from our inner children that we’ve forgotten with all our career and impact aspirations.  So how about making play the central part of whatever we are doing and remembering that it’s just sand?

Your thoughts?

NEW at the Global Coach Center: an online course on Culture Mastery — offering how to be effective in any culture through the 4C’s ™ process of culture-emotion intelligence.

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

Introducing QATAR

Qatar is one of the countries that’s profiled in the Global Coach Center Academy within the course “Living and Working in Qatar” In this post we interview one of the course’s co-trainers on some of the most interesting tidbits on Qatar.

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a writer and educator who has lived in Qatar since 2005. A scholar of literature, she has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her work has been published in AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She is the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine published by Vodafone Qatar. Currently Mohana is working on a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf and a novel based in Qatar. She believes words can help us understand ourselves and others. Catch up on her latest via her blog or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

Global Coach Center Blog (GCC Blog):  What would be 1 to 3 tips you’d give to someone who is moving to Qatar?

Mohana:

  • Be prepared for heat for 4 months of the year (May – August)
  • Ramadan is a time when restuarants are closed during the day and most shops; plan ahead and avoid driving on the roads at peak times
  • Make the effort to get outside of your ex-pat work/compound bubble to meet new people

GCC Blog:  What was the funniest cultural misunderstanding you’ve experienced in Qatar?

Mohana:  People often think that the five pressed together fingers — which is a symbol to wait — is an insult or rude gesture.

GCC Blog:  What’s the most popular proverb and why?

Mohana:  There are so many Arabic proverbs but one of my favorites is “one hand cannot clap” meaning that teamwork is important.

GCC Blog:  What do you love about Qatar?

Mohana: Qatar is booming and everyone from Hillary Clinton to Wycleaf Jean has come through Doha in the last five years that I’ve been here.

GCC Blog:  What do you dislike about living in Qatar?

Mohana:  The pressures of living in a city that is still being built (new buildings, new roads, the sounds of construction) can sometimes be frustrating.

On June 9, 2011 Global Coach Center and Mohana hosted a free teleclass on “Culture Tips for Qatar”.  Please listen to the recording here.

Identity – by permission or by design?

Expats often worry what living in another culture may do to their identity.  Will they have to surrender the identity they know and adopt another one?  Will their identity change?  Will it stay the same and as a result they won’t ever fit in or feel that they belong?

This list of concerns can go on and on and, if you look closely, you’ll see that a lot of these questions relate to (1) who we see ourselves as and to (2) how we preserve that in unfamiliar environments.  In my previous posts (here and here) I focused more on how to preserve the sense of who we are, but today I’d like to address the first question – how do we find our identity in the first place? How do we come to see ourselves and identify with who we are?

I grew up in a family and environment where my future was decided for me.  I was a child and a grandchild of engineers growing up in the society where people were relegated into either a techie or an artsy field.  There was nothing in between and one very rarely crossed from one to another.  And so with my family being engineers I was told all my life that I belonged to the techie crowd (somehow my complete and utter inability to comprehend some very techie subjects didn’t bother anyone).

Fast forward several decades later.  I am no longer a techie and I have not been for a long time.  But it took me many many years before I actually permitted myself to experiment with the artsy – and it’s taking me a lot longer to see myself as an artist.  My sense of identity and my sense of how I see myself evolved from a place of being who you are by permission to acknowledging who you are by design.

So when you are looking at your identity – the near and dear one that you are taking overseas, what are you seeing? And perhaps, if you are finding that you are playing a role by permission and feeling afraid to relinquish that role, how can living in another country – away from the society that pre-determined that role for you – can help you find yourself by design?

NEW at the Global Coach Center: an online course on Culture Mastery — offering how to be effective in any culture through the 4C’s ™ process of culture-emotion intelligence.

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!