How ironic to send Chinese Year of the Goat greetings from this livestock market in Oman. A few days earlier, I spoke at a conference in the sophisticated capital Muscat and was reminded of a quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt: ‘The only thing we have to fear-is fear itself’
Who am I to disagree with an American president-but I doubt any leader would say that today. Certain fears are indeed prudent and necessary for survival in this global world, but it is likewise unwise to fear things just because they are different or outside our own scope of knowledge. Some friends were horrified that I went to speak and then ski in the Middle East after the sieges in Sydney and Paris. We are too often fearful of things only because of our own misconceptions or lack of understanding. The Middle East is not one country-and not full of terrorists. Sadly, there are terrible atrocities in our world but any successful person will tell you:
With risk, comes reward. However risk assessment is also vital and recklessness is seldom in our best interest. Of course I did due diligence and had contingency plans but I experienced nothing but kindness from strangers in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Lebanon and Oman-the Middle East is as diverse as our perceptions of it.
Dress for success…These words were drilled into us when as an executive at IBM, we dared not show up in anything but a smart business suit and certainly not pants for women in those days. Dress standards have since relaxed (at least for Western women) but that doesn’t diminish the importance of fitting in with a corporate-or foreign-culture.
Just as I’d dress differently for an audience of senior leaders or 18 year olds, I purchased an abaya-an addition to my wardrobe for my ‘big gig’ in Bahrain. It was surreal to see my photo on billboards with His Royal Highness, who sponsored the seminar-not titled ‘The King & I’
Adapt…Adaptability is the #1 word used by researchers to describe people who live to be 100. We all need to adapt to changes in the world without losing sight of our core values.
I’ve been privileged to speak to different ethnic cultures and an even wider variety of corporate cultures over the years. Everyone thinks their challenges of customer service, change, teamwork andresilience are totally unique. In pre conference briefings I keenly note and address management’s specific concerns. Yet, speaking to delegates after, I never cease to be amazed that 99% share the same hopes and fears regardless of place or position. Yes-shift happens but Hope Happens all over the world; and as Sir Wilfred Grenfell said over a century ago:
‘Service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on the earth’
In this Year of the Goat….Have a ‘go-at’ whatever you believe in…‘Go-at’ it with less fear. ‘Go-at’ it with more focus, courage and kindness!