Tag Archives: Choices

Expats — choosing not to belong or choosing transformation?

When I look at the search words that bring people to my blog, the combination of “why people chose not to belong” comes through again and again.  It seems that making a choice not to belong to a community/group/religion/etc fascinates quite a few.  And so I get curious – are people really choosing not to belong or are they choosing to transform?

When we move abroad, we make a choice.  And while that choice can be influenced by quite a few factors (interesting career move, fascinating culture, financial reward, etc), at the root of that choice lies our innate desire to achieve transformation – to grow and evolve in all (or some) parts of our lives.  So choosing not to belong is really choosing to forego convention and embrace something different.  What I mean is that – choosing not to belong isn’t really about quitting something, it’s about gaining.

Evolution has always been driven by transformation – change, sought and brought about by people, moved our times forward.  And so as we get closer and closer to each other and as we live across cultures, each culture brings about a transformation in us.  By the same token, we bring about transformation in that culture.

So next time you are feeling down and missing the familiar, think of the transformative nature of your experiences and of how these experiences can help you grow, evolve and be at the forefront of the new evolutionary turn.

How has your expat experience been transformative for you?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

To expat or not to expat: 3 tips that can help you decide

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

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

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)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: Y is for YOU and what YOU make of it

Often times my clients have trouble focusing on their own needs.  They are so concerned about the necessities of people around them – spouses who have started working in a new culture and are stressed beyond belief; children that need help adjusting to a new country and a new school; parents who have been left behind and want to be comforted; friends who expect regular updates and quick invitations to visit; former co-workers who wonder about their next career step, etc, etc, etc.

When so many people around you need tending to, there is not really any time left for your own needs and dreams, is there?  And even if there is some free time somewhere in your day, how guilty might you feel if you decide to spend it on you rather than on any of the above?

Turns out – very guilty.  A lot of us would drop anything to make lives of people around us better, yet we rarely strive to do the same for ourselves.  Even after a day of housework, running a virtual business, making dinner, helping with homework, and spending time on the phone with family, many of us find it difficult to take a few moments of guilt-free pleasure for ourselves.  Be it a book, a mindless television show, a massage, a facial, a bath… whatever.  The point us – remember there is YOU in that expat reality you are all living in.  And YOU too need some pampering.

So next time you feel that you should not be having that massage or that the TV show you are watching is too stupid to waste your time on, stop and think about what your needs are in that moment.  How are you serving them?  And how much better does it feel to serve them than to ignore them?

And as for the “what YOU make of it” part in this letter Y – Dr. Dyer once said some very powerful words: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”  How are you looking at your expat life?

Want to work on those guilt-feelings with others like you? Join our Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom Program where we will provide tools and skills you usually get during coaching to work on this and other expat issues.  Learn more here. BONUS: if you sign up before December 1, 2010, you get FREE access to the “7 Habits of a Happy Expat” online course.


For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click 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)!

For all expatriate women out there

I had an awakening today.  Thanks to my friend Liz and our amazing conversation I came to embrace something that I habitually ignored.  Something that’s a huge part of who I am, something that nourishes me, and something that we all don’t get enough of in the world around us (and maybe that’s why we tend to ignore it).

This something is my feminine energy. You see, I’ve been functioning purely out of the masculine energy – paying attention and homage to doing as much as I can do to succeed, to achieve, to produce, to make, to deliver. I’ve been stuck in this for so long that often I’d find myself literally gasping for breath and dying inside – all the while not realizing why.  The guilt around not doing enough, not being successful enough, not spending enough time with the family, not spending enough time on the business, not reading enough, not writing enough… not being enough has had me consistently running for more.  “Still doesn’t seem enough,” I’d think often, “I have got to come up with something else that’ll work even better.”  And on and on it continued – the perpetual treadmill that never got me anywhere.

I suspect that I’ve learned running the treadmill while growing up.  I’ve learned that you are worthy only if you are beautiful enough, rich enough, and successful enough.  And all those things were and are always defined by the world around us – the world that runs on achievement and masculine energy.  And so we, women – who have been brought here to nurture, to create, to give birth – have been swept up in the world’s obsession of making, doing, and achieving at all costs.

We drive ourselves very hard.  And we are very hard on ourselves. The feelings of guilt follow us everywhere and the feelings of “I am not worthy if I don’t…” are just as prevalent.  And we forget – oh, yes, we forget – that first and foremost we are worthy and beautiful in how we are and in how we are being.  We are perfect just the way we are.

When I stopped today and realized that without wanting I’ve always been defaulting to the habitual masculine energy of constant production and achievement, I also realized that I have forgotten how to play.  I don’t let myself play.  My inner child, that carries with her that feminine energy I so desperately need, isn’t allowed out.  I live on the “gasoline” made out of masculine, whereas I want to live on the “light” that comes from the feminine.

A couple of years ago I did an exercise where I came up with my life purpose statement.  You want to know what it is?  Don’t laugh too hard, but please smile: “I am Tinker bell that inspires you to do your magic.” Corny?  Maybe.  But that’s the energy that speaks to me and that’s the energy that I want to bring more of into the world.  That’s my feminine energy.

And now I’d like to speak to the expatriate women who constantly come up against the kind of masculine energy I wrote about. Just like you I am an expat and I know all too well the question of “oh, my God, who am I now?” that we ponder when we follow our partners and quit our careers.  I know the feelings of guilt over spending too much time without “working”, I know the guilt about allowing ourselves the “me-time”, I know the guilt about spending someone else’s money when before you made your own.  The guilt that usually comes together with “I am not worthy” sentiment – I am not worthy of that massage because I didn’t make money to pay for it; I am not worthy of free time because I should spend it with my kids; I am not worthy of respect from my peers back home because I am not doing anything productive; etc, etc, etc.  “Being worthy” is usually defined by the masculine energy in us.

Now, I am not saying that we don’t want or don’t need the masculine energy.  No.  We need both.  But we need a good balance of both.  And we desperately need our feminine energy and our inner child – we need to let them out and let them be with us and guide us.

So I am going to make a commitment to be with Tinker Bell every moment of each day.  I know it’s going to be difficult and at times I will default.  But that’s the journey.

And if you want to join me on this journey, please do!  I want for every expat woman out there to tune into what I tuned into today and to stay there.

What’s the source of your feminine energy?  How have you been tapping into it?

How committed are you to tuning into your feminine energy more and more every day?

Check out our 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, inspired — and help you tap into that beautiful feminine energy you’ve been missing. Register for it 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™: Q is for QUESTIONS

When kids are young, they ask a lot of questions.  The constant flow of what, how, where, why, and what if can even drive a parent crazy.  But we know that this is how our children learn about the world and we happily oblige.  As they grow, however, and become adults, the questions become less frequent – and what’s even more frustrating, less curious.  Gone are the what, the how, and the why, replaced by a simpler form of close-ended questions.

It is an unfortunate fact that most questions we ask as adults are questions that don’t require any more than a simple yes or a no.  These questions carry no curiosity and in its place they express assumptions.  Instead of asking “What language do people speak here?”, we ask: “They speak English here, right?”; instead of asking “What was interesting about living in…?”, we ask “Was it interesting to live in…?”; instead of asking “What do you suggest I do when I…?”, we ask “Do I do this and this when…?”.

These examples may not be perfect, but if you watch yourself over the next few days, try to notice how many of your questions are open-ended and how many are close-ended.  Once you’ve done that, try to catch yourself every time you want to ask a close-ended questions, and ask an open-ended instead.  How much more do you hear in response?

Open-ended questions are powerful questions — not only because they contain curiosity, but also because they open the flow of information and energy in a much potent way than close-ended questions.  Try it.  You’ll be amazed at the difference.

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™: 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™: B is for BEGINNING

Someone once said that “life is always offering us new beginnings, it’s up to us whether to take them or not.”  And while for many people their new beginnings may not be apparent at first sight, for expatriates every move is a new beginning.

Every time we move, we find ourselves thrust into a different life – a life that offers discoveries, adventures, and learning.  And even though sometimes it’s scary and uncomfortable, it’s still a gift.  Like a toddler who looks at every new activity and every new toy as an exciting chance to explore, an expat can look at every move as a new beginning and a chance for something amazing.

What about you?  What beginnings do you remember and how do you take advantage of the ones offered to you?

Any other “B’s” out there?

Read about the “A” here.

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Culture Shock Revisited or Is It Really All About Going Through the Stages

3 Reasons to Become an Expatriate

7 Habits of a Happy Expat

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)!

Lack of the familiar — an opportunity to create?

Recently, during a celebration at an Israeli consulate in Miami, I heard an interesting quote by Golda Meir, one of the most known Israeli prime ministers.  “Moses dragged us for 40 years through the desert to bring us to the one place in the Middle East where there was no oil,” she said once.  The speaker used the quote to continue his thought on how the Israelis had to be very creative to sustain their young country and how now they have one of the most advanced IT and medical industries in the world.  No oil?  No problem.  Let’s see what we can create out of the “lack of oil”.

This speech reminded me of my childhood.  When I grew up very few things were readily available and so whenever we needed something, we resorted to creating it ourselves.  Take that creativity and multiply it by the thousands and thousands of people and you get lots of inventions!

These two examples got me thinking about the experience of expatriation.  As expats we are constantly “giving up” things that are familiar and things that — in the past — have given us resources to sustain ourselves.  As we move, each and every time, we lose access to what got is where we were.  And even though it’s not easy, we pick up the pieces and move on to create something out of the lack of what we just left behind.  So with every expat move, we prove the resilience and the creativity of the human spirit.  We also prove that lacking something is the best way to create something new.

What do you think?  And what have you created in your life out of “lack”?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Culture Shock Revisited or Is It Really All About Going Through the Stages

3 Reasons to Become an Expatriate

7 Habits of a Happy Expat

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