Life outside comfort zones started for me while in Cameroon. I had to work upcountry for 2 years before leaving Cameroon in 2015. I came to some conclusions concerning success outside comfort zones. There are invariable factors I observed in every culture I went to and, understanding them made integration easier for professional or social fulfilment.
Before reading my views on success outside comfort zones, I invite you to listen to the following podcast of Brian Tracy on 5 Common Myths About Success. This could help you not misunderstand what I mean by success. What I share in this article is purely the fruit of personal observations on my own experience and the one of few others.
Learn the language before landing. This is the key factor for achieving your goals in a new environment. The language might not only be spoken or writen but also values attached to words, context and situations. Knowing English and French is a great advantage for me because I can communicate easily in every new places.
Look For Mentors. A mentor is a guide that has previous experience in the new place you are moving to. Having one will prepare you mentally to face many challenges. While learning from your mentors, develop your own pattern for success because things could have changed since your mentor reached the same environment.
I take the simple example of having a driving licence in the USA. If your mentor came in America 5 to 10 years ago, the advice he provides you need to be updated if not you will be quite disapointed.
Plan Big and Start Little. What is the best image of yourself out of your comfort zone? Write a plan to reach that pict but make sure you start by the smallest steps. Each step leading you to the manifestation of the whole blueprint.
I met people who took a loan after 3 months in an unknown environment and spent the next 5 years paying back a money they did not enjoy.
Other people dream they might make career in the same domain in which they were working in their country; It’s after 3 years of wasted time, money and energy that they come to accept the reality.
Understand the Business Mind. There are 3 types of mindsets when it comes to money, time and energy: investing , spending or wasting.
According to statistics, only 3 to 5 % are part of the investors, while 95 to 97 % are spending and wasting.
Why buying a car of $50000 to drive it once a month while someone else uses the same car for rent for special events? Why having a 2 hours talk with complainers while another uses the same time to think productivity, improvement and positive changes?
Train Yourself. There are enourmous training opportunities today. With the digital revolution you can take free courses every where in the world; Even going to a cyber cafe once a week for 2 hours to take an online training will make you better after a year.
Build True Frienships. In my article 4 Challenges Outside Your Comfort Zone That Confirm You Are Becoming a Champion , I share the importance of building genuine friendships from the mistake I did. According to cross-cultural experts, you need at least 2 years of consistent interaction with someone to develop true friendship.
The average time for a false relation to last is 8 months. So don’t hurry and take time to scan your contact before pouring out confidential things to somebody. Set relationship goals in terms of win-win interactions, then work on it to make it happen.
Use Cultural Shocks as Directions. Cultural shocks always happen but the way we handle it differ from person to person. I learned how to use shocks to understand there was a good intentions but different values.
Therefore values and not emotions should guide us. If the most important thing for you is your family, you could easily manage cultural shocks; But if you interact with a group where money is the first value, shocks will happen more often and in the worst case, you might never come to understand each other.
You can know your values or someones’ values by answering the question : “what is most important for me?” and ” what is more important for him/her?”. With the answer, the choice is yours to start or not a relationship with someone.
The choice is also yours to balance what adjustment could be done to your values in other to build a strong connection with a person.
Learn How to Communicate. We can know a language but not know how to communicate effectively. Therefore it’s essential to take time to understand your communication style (writen,verbal or gestual) and the one of others.
You can read my article 4 Successful Strategies to Communicate Effectively in a MultiCultural Environment to have a broader view on the subject.
To discover your communication style, do the following test : If you are in an intensive emotional pressure (pain or joy), what would you do to let others know what you are going through? You could shout (verbal), agitate (gestual) or speak to yourself (writen). Which one reflect the most your possible reaction?
Enjoy the new currency. In Uganda, I always had the habit to converting from shilling to Fcfa or USD or Euro. Each shilling spent or item bought was compared to the equivalent on Fcfa. What a mental gym! It was frustrating and stressing to always convert unconsciously until a friend told us to start thinking in the local curency.
From that time, life seems cheaper and more enjoyable. Coming to the USA, that conversion habits almost disapeared.
Define Your Own Fun. I think the word I heard the most since I integrated the anglo-saxon milieu is the word “Fun”. What is funny in Cameroon might not necessary be funny in Uganda or in America.
Being yourself means that you know what makes you laugh and you know how to get it, when and with whom.
I discovered that the word ” F*ck” produce a lot of fun in many conversations but in my country, it’s a scandal because the meaning is totally different. So not using it makes me too serious for some while for me I am just trying to be pudic.
What are the rules you came out with from your experience outside your comfort zone? It can be in another area like changing a professional career, a goal or a company.
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