Obituaries are not my thing. I do read them if they are about a person of significance (to me). But writing one? Difficult. This blog post is no obit on the life of Ms. Maya Angelou. There is a good one here, though. This is my version of paying a small tribute to a great person who impacted millions of lives with her art and her passion.
For me, learning about Maya Angelou was learning about the complicated history of the U.S. South. It also helped me get a more balanced perspective on life. Hearing about her passing, I was reminded of something Ms. Angelou said about the mutual understanding of people. She referenced Mark Twain when she said: “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
The reason why I am passionate about my work as a cultural trainer and coach is because throughout life I’ve often been experiencing the opposite of people trying to understand each other. It is so easy to dismiss other people’s behavior as not “normal,” weird, wrong, stupid, arrogant, what have you.
It takes effort, though, to search for the positive intent in others’ behavior. Helping people in that search can be tedious. The reward can be magical.
Understanding each other requires trust.
Adapting to a new environment, a different culture, requires a mindset that accepts change.
Thriving in a culture other than our own requires that we let go of the idea of “normal.”
Thank you for your wisdom.
May you rest in peace, great lady.
Christian is a cultural trainer, coach, and consultant with extensive experience in working with multinational companies and especially in developing global leaders. He is the President and CEO of The Culture Mastery, LLC, where he leads a team of dedicated training, destination services, and expat support specialists. Christian works with global organizations (or those who are going global) to help their employees overcome cultural differences. Typically he only uses the word “normal” in quotation marks and he is an advocate for helping people understand the why of behaviors – not just the dos & don’ts. Most just call him “The Culture Guy”. Find out more about Christian here and follow him on Twitter. You can also see him, listen to him, and experience his work – just invite him!