Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tip of the Day: Adapting to Expectations as They Actually Are, Not as You'd Like Them to Be!

After working, living and traveling abroad in eight foreign countries and working in roughly 65 other nations over a thirty-five-year career, it is my belief that I've learned a thing or two about adapting to life abroad.

Let's examine, for instance, the concept of time.

No matter where "home" actually is, it is my hope that I've learned something about the concept of time: What you can actually accomplish in a work-day, not necessarily when you're "home," but where around the globe you actually "are." 

 At "home," you may be tethered to your day-timer, appointment book, Android, iPhone courier services and multitasking support devices, etc., yet when you travel to a country so diametrically different from "home," let's say, Pakistan, everything will be drastically different: the legal system, social mores, protocols, meetings, religion, political perceptions, credibility, etc. 

I remember several years ago when I was doing police training in Islamabad. An FBI instructor and myself were doing a presentation on the September 11, 2001 events of 9/11.

Now, please keep in mind that we were speaking to a class of senior-level Pakistani police officers, many of whom spoke English. Yet, 70% of the participants in the course truly believed that the events of 9/11 was a hoax on the part of the US. Imagine!

In many global capitals, traveling three miles can easily take an hour...or more! So...always factor in travel time.

If working in Latin America, reckoning with the official siesta may take several hours out of the highest temperatures of the day. 

Another factor is discovering that everyone in the country that you're in happens to eat at different times. Typically, dinner may be served at 2100 or 2200 hours. A tip! Don't regret invitations...just adapt to them.

In many countries, retail stores are rarely open late in the evening and may not be open at all on certain days of the week. So...plan accordingly.

One reality that I learned some 40 years ago while serving in the US Marines was...

improvise, adapt and prevail. Three of the best virtues I have ever learned!