Category Archives: Winning Behaviors

Third Culture Kids — what’s in the “programming”?

I recently finished reading a fascinating book by Dr. Bruce LiptonBiology of Belief. Among many very interesting things, Dr Lipton touches upon the difference between sub-conscious and conscious minds.  He goes on to say that during our adult lives in 95% of the time we operate according to the programmed habits and beliefs that are stored in our subconscious mind.  And that programming of the subconscious occurs mostly between the ages of zero and 6.

That got me thinking about my own parenting, the messages that my daughter had downloaded into her subconscious in the first six years of her life – and how being a third culture kid affected those messages.  I realized that as we raise our kids in cultures that are foreign to us, we unknowingly pass on – without thinking – all the negative messages that come up in us in response to stress of adjustment, relocation, and simply being a stranger in a strange land.

If you think back to times when you moved with your kids at the time when they were young, what messages may have escaped your lips?  What behavior may you have exhibited in moments of stress that perhaps became recorded in your children’s subconscious?  What cultural misunderstandings may have influenced your reactions to things?  And can you now see those beliefs coming up in your children’s lives?

According to Dr. Lipton (and to many others), re-wiring the downloaded programs in our sub-conscious takes a lot more than affirmations and positive thinking.  Since our subconscious mind is our habitual mind, the only way to change the program is to engage in a completely different habit time and time again.  That’s not an easy preposition, but it can be done.  The best strategy, of course, is not to create those beliefs to begin with.

Your thoughts?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Cross-cultural misunderstandings — got one?

Your identity in expatriation — will it stay or will it go?

To belong or not to belong — is that the choice we make when we move abroad?

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)!

Expatriates – surviving or thriving? Depends on how you look at it…

Recently a few articles and books caught my eye.  All of them were targeted at expats and all of them used the word survive in some fashion.  There was either a title “How to survive as an expat” (Disclaimer: not the exact words); or an e-book on “5 Ways to Survive your move abroad (again, not exact words); or an article on “Survival tips on…”, etc, etc, etc.  All this written material  was intended to help expatriates and was offering help from the perspective of survival and having to survive.

Why do I bring this up?  If we look at the definition of the word survive, this is what we get:

  • To remain alive or in existence.
  • To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.
  • To remain functional or usable.

How is that for a perspective?  How inspiring does it sound to you if you are an expatriate (or preparing to become one)?

My point here is that perspectives from which we approach our lives matter a great deal.  Perspectives can be empowering and inspirational – the ones that make us look at the world thought the glasses of possibility.  Perspectives can also be cautious and fearful — the kind that force us to look at the world through the glasses of prevention.

Looking at our expat experience from the point of view of having to survive is nowhere as fun and calling as looking at it from the point of view of thriving.  What do you think?

And how do you look at your expatriate journey?

People who enjoyed this also read:

A different take on expatriate motivation

7 Habits of a Happy Expat

Culture Shock revisited or is it all about going through the stages?

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)!

The wisest decision — #Reverb10

The process of looking at the past year and thinking of what the next will bring continues…  (courtesy of a very cool project — #Reverb10)

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The last thing I made was a painting that I painted together with my daughter for my father’s birthday.  This was our first oil on canvas creation and it was fun to see it emerge.

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

The 2010 for me was the year of the online community.  This year I created the Facebook page for expatriates, I improved the LinkedIn Group “Ask a Cross-Cultural and Expatriate Coach”, I grew my blog subscription (also a bit of a group), and I joined pages and groups that were interesting.  In 2011 I’d love to connect closer with an artists’ community.

December 8 — Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

My magic is in the energy of Tinker bell.  The mischief coupled with kindness and ability to see the light of each person I come in contact with are what make me different.

December 10 – Wisdom.  What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

The wisest decision I made last year was to remember to treat myself to things I’ve always wanted to do and never allowed myself to – and along with that, to realize that I am so much more than what the outside world defines me to be.  So far treating myself resulted in signing up for a painting class, giving myself a break from work when my body and soul tell me to, and taking a few tennis lessons.

Taking this step of considering myself was so profound that I wanted to bring it to other people.  So I created an Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom Program that other expatriates can take and see what unravels for them.

December 13 – When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

My next step is in line with treating myself… this time to a no-work-and-no-computer-at-all week.  I need to recharge.

Remember we are still registering for the Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. Sign up here.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

 


First few days — #Reverb10

Although I am a little late in starting, this seems like a fascinating process to go through before the new year.  If it sounds interesting to you, join them at Reverb10.

Here are my answers to the first 5 prompts:

December 1:  Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

My 2010 word is running.  This entire year, it seems, has passed running from one thing to another, attempting to cramp too much into my days, and working to carry more than I can handle.  Sometimes in September I slowed down the running a bit and began to breathe a little deeper.  I’ve also added a few items on being-kind-to-myself-agenda amidst all the running.

My 2011 word is faith – believing that everything will turn out just the right way, the way it meant to be without the extensive running.  I’ve been practicing faith for awhile but in 2011 I want to fully embrace it and have faith that the universe has my back.

December 2: What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

E-mail and internet procrastination!  That has always been the two things I go to in order to avoid writing.   I cannot eliminate it for good but I can turn of the WiFi for two hours a day to just write.

December 3: December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).  

There was one moment when the time stopped and the only thing that existed were the things around me.  I don’t remember the details but I remember the feeling of gratitude of being alive and the feeling of being completely in the here and now.

December 4: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Through nature and really engaging with nature in simple ways.  For instance, when walking the dog, I’d very consciously NOT look at my smart phone and check messages but take in what surrounds me – the sound of the waves, the breeze, the trees.  Just being with nature for those short periods of time would fill me with wonder.

December 5: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of my expectations towards one of the projects I was running and I let go of my ego’s expectations on this project.  I decided to remember that the universe will deliver me the result I want, but it may not be in the way I willed it – and I am willing to accept it now in any form it comes.

More to come…

Remember we are still registering for the Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. Sign up here.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: W is for WILLINGNESS and WISDOM

If I were to come up with a cooking metaphor for an expat life, then I’d say that willingness qualifies as one of the major ingredients – a base ingredient, in fact.  Just like you cannot make a great cake without eggs (or butter or whatever you must have in your cakes), you cannot make a great expatriate life without being willing to do so.  Willingness is where it all starts – we must be willing to experience change, we must be willing to be open minded, we must be willing to learn, we must be willing to let go of assumptions and judgments, we must be willing to consider other truths and opinions, etc, etc, etc.

One of my favorite questions when I coach a client and when we are talking about a major step in their lives is: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to undertake that?” And the next question is “How committed are you to this course of action?” Willingness paves a way for commitment; commitment paves a road for intention; and intention helps us co-create our lives.

Wisdom is another one of those ingredients that’s a must in life – and if we were to go with a cooking metaphor, then wisdom is your recipe.  Unless you tap into your inner wise self, whatever you cook out of life isn’t going to turn out the way you dreamed.  Our inner wisdom is our resource to tap into when we have questions about the direction of our lives, when we need to make decisions about our life journeys, and when we need to find the road towards fulfillment of our dreams.

How do we tap into that wisdom?  With so much pressure from the outside, how do we make sure the world doesn’t drown out the voice of wisdom?  There are several tools you can use to find that voice of wisdom, but the important thing to know is that it’s not only about finding it, but it’s also about remembering to listen to it. Making a habit of consulting it on a daily basis and growing your connection with it is sometimes more difficult that finding it in the first place.

How do you find the voice of your inner wisdom?  And how do you make sure you tune into it on a regular basis?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

Always being in-the-know of our inner wisdom is going to be one of many important lessons we will discuss and learn during the Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired.  Remember that if you sign up before November 15, 2010, you get a FREE coaching session.  Sign up here.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: R is for RELATIONSHIPS

When you move from place to place as an expat, everything is different.  Your work is different, your relationship with your colleagues is different, your colleagues are different, the way of life is different, the culture is different, etc, etc, etc.  The only thing that stays pretty much the same is your family that comes with you.

The differences and changes we go through as we move often produce a lot of stress for both you and your family.  And since our outlets for stress are frequently those closest to us, many times we take our frustrations out at our spouses and our children.  And they, in turn, take their frustrations out at us.

These frustrations and the fights/misunderstandings/pain they cause act as underground water currents that slowly destroy the foundation of your home.  How can you stop these currents from damaging your relationships?

One way to do it would be to find another outlet for your stress.  Hire a coach and you’ll realize that the coaching fee you’ll spend will be an investment that will keep paying by making your family stronger.

Another way to do it is to go back to the basics.  Make a point of returning to those moments that initially brought you together (if this is your spouse) or those moments that you look back at with happiness (if it’s your kids and your spouse).  Re-visit those moments together — find that magic again.  Remember those meaningful connections.  And then decide together – what do you want your next chapter to be?  And how do you want it to be?

For more on relationships while an expat, you can read this post:

Trailing and not failing: how our relationships can sustain us in expatriation?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, 7 Habits of a Happy Expat and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

 

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: P is for PEOPLE

When I was living in Argentina, one of my friends explained his constant tardiness the following way: “I’ve gone native.”  In Russia, going native sometimes meant using your elbows in public transport, and in Uzbekistan it meant haggling over 5 cents at a market.  Whatever the country, many of us  often find ourselves absorbing and engaging in the habits and behaviors of people who surround us.

This post, however, isn’t about going native.  I am only using this example to illustrate a human tendency to repeat after people who surround us.  In NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) it’s called modeling and there are techniques that are built upon this tendency.  For instance, people are encouraged to succeed by hanging out with and repeating what successful people do – that is, by modeling them.

Specific NLP techniques aside, we can all benefit from repeating – and from surrounding ourselves with people who we would want to repeat after.  At the same time, we don’t benefit by surrounding ourselves with people whose energies drag us down.  So, if you want your expatriate experience to be happy and successful, consider who you hang out with.  Do you spend a lot of time in the company of upbeat and open-minded people?  Or do you find yourself socializing with those who complain and judge?

Finding a circle of acquaintances and friends who offer positive energy is important everywhere – and it is especially important when you are living in another culture and need all the support you can get.

Who are you surrounding yourself with?

And – there are lots of P’s out there – suggest one!

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: O is for OPEN MIND

There exist many wonderful quotes about what an open mind is and what it comes to represent to different people.  To start this blog on an inspirational note, I thought I’d mention a couple of them – and I’ll mention especially those that resonate with me (apologies for not being sure who the authors are):

“An open mind is a mind of curiosity, wonder, learning, infinite possibilities and a beautiful desire for understanding.”

“A person open to all things and ideas is by default wiser than the one that is not.”

“When you are open to everything, nothing is impossible.”

And while these quotes are probably enough to confirm that open mind is very important in order to be happy as an expat, I’d still like to explore a bit further.  I’d like to explore what it is that closes our minds.

Making assumptions and passing judgments – these two attitudes are often to blame for keeping our mind closed rather than open.  Let’s look at making assumptions first.

We live our lives by making assumptions.  Sometimes we are right and sometimes we are not.  After living in a culture for a long time (or for our entire life) we are full of assumptions that have been created by our experience with that culture.  When we move, we automatically assume the same about the new place.  For instance, if in my “old home” colleagues didn’t bother me when I closed my office door, then I am going to assume that things should be the same in my “new home”.  And why not?  Should not people know what a closed door means?

You see how this idea about “what people know about closed doors” becomes an assumption based on previous experience?  And if we take this assumption to be the truth (which is what we do most of the time), then we encounter a lot of frustration in dealing with the new situation.  Instead of keeping an open mind and inquiring about the meaning of a closed door in the new culture, I may assume that it’s the lack of respect and the lack of manners that makes people come in freely when I have my door closed.

And now about passing judgments. The new country we’ve ended up in has been in existence long before our plane deposited us there.  People here are used to being and doing things their way.  No matter how much it may bother us and no matter how much we disagree, a judgmental attitude will get us nowhere. Remember we don’t own the absolute truth of how to be.  There are many different truths and realities out there.  And when we have an open mind – free of judgments and assumptions – we are more able to see the different truths and realities.

Where do you assume?  Where may you judge?  And how does that affect your learning and your life as an expatriate?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: N is for NEGOTIATION

When I say negotiation I don’t mean the one that has to do with business deals or peace accords.  Neither am I using the word to indicate anything that has to do with dispute resolution.  Instead, I am using the word to explain the delicate process of negotiating the change – and a journey of making lots of very new and, sometimes, difficult choices.

When you arrive to another country and emerge yourself into another culture, you begin to notice that certain things are done differently.  People might be routinely late to appointments whereas you are used to always being on time.  People may drop by your office unexpectedly whereas you are used to scheduling these impromptu meetings.  People may expect you to spell their responsibilities out for them – when you are expecting a healthy dose of initiative.

All these changes may throw you for a loop – and worse, they may really wreck havoc in how you perceive yourself and your ability to succeed in the new environment.  After all, if you are constantly frustrated and if you are struggling to understand why things are not working the way they should, you’ll find yourself arguing with your saboteur a lot longer than you ever want to.

And that’s where negotiating across cultures comes in.  This negotiation process is actually very simple and consists of 5 steps:

(1) Determine which cultural variable is responsible for the behavior that drives you crazy

(2) Identify where you are for this cultural variable on a cultural continuum

(3) Identify where most of your host country nationals are

(4) Determine if you have a large gap – and, if you do, (a) are you willing to change your behavior or (b) will you prefer for people around you to adjust to your habits (this depends on the value structure and if the variable in question is the reflection of your values/identity or habits/behaviors)

(5) Create an action plan.

This 5-step process comes from a module we developed for cross-cultural training with a coach-approach for our on-line cross-cultural courses.

What do you think?

And what other N’s are out there?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: J is for JOURNAL

Ever since my daughter learned to write coherent sentences, I’ve always encouraged her to record the various trips we were taking.  We’d sit down at the end of every day – usually during a dinner in a restaurant – and while the food was being prepared, she’d record things that were especially interesting for her.  And even though it’s now becoming more and more difficult to get her to write her “travel journal” (age, I suppose), she loves going back and reading what she’s written years ago.

Journaling about your expat experiences – whether in electronic form or in an old-fashioned way with a pen and a notebook – gives us an opportunity to record the things we see and experience shortly after we’ve seen and experienced them.  Nothing gets lost in our memory, nothing gets forgotten and in the end we have a great collection of stories that can provide hours of memories years later.  Some of these stories may even end up becoming a book some of us have always dreamed of writing in retirement.

Keeping a journal in electronic form – a blog as we call them now – also allows us to share with family and friends at home.  Add a few photographs and you’ve just provided an evening of entertainment for your loved ones.

Journals help us remember and they help us share.  Do you keep a journal?  How?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!