For the past five years, Bec and I have had the advantage of being on our own turf. We’ve been able to establish a culture, a set of norms, and young people have come to us to learn and be trained. But now we find ourselves in a different environment, where we don’t get to set the “rules”, and where we are the strange ones.
We’ve lost “home field advantage”!
Playing An Away Game
Although we may speak the same language, England is a much different beast than America. Much different. And we took a chance by going to a place where we didn’t know anyone. There was “friends of friends” but we were going into uncharted territory. And we’ve had to get used to a different culture pretty quickly… although its been a quicker integration due to similarities, we still had much to learn… (and its not just learning the meanings of “summat” and “kidney pie” — here’s a hint– they’re not talking about kidney beans!!)
So here are some lessons learned that I think can be applied to playing away from home (i.e. pioneering in a new culture of any sort), no matter where you’re from or where you’re going.
Learn the language.
Not just the words, but also the subtleties, body language, and style. Are they polite, direct, business like, distrusting, or friendly? Take the time to “listen more than you speak” to get to know the new culture.
Play the long game. This is difficult for someone like my wife, who when she’s ready to do something, there’s no reason to wait… get on with it! But both of us are realizing that our grand visions will take time to develop–although we start working on them now, they may take months or years to complete.
Find the influencers
The Bible called them “Men of Peace”… people who were door-openers, receptive, and friendly. In a business sense, they’d be called “enablers,” people that get you connected and networked quickly. We’ve found some of these men (and women!)of peace, they are already so welcoming to us and our family.
Confidence goes a long way in any language.
Know your stuff. Know your authority. The people that you meet will feel that coming off of you.
Take advantage of open doors.
This takes practice, because it’s not always our first instinct to leap into the unknown. But you’ve got to recognize open doors, time-sensitive opportunities, and jump on them! If we’re not afraid of dusting ourselves off every now and then when doors get closed in our face, most times these open doors facilitate an explosion of success.
Fitting In With the Home Team
In the short time we’ve been in England, we’ve cemented old friendships and built new ones; we’ve reconnected with old family friends; and found a feeling of home and family. There are so many opportunities here that our minds are spinning! Whether it’s furniture restoration, Global Adventure, G42, part time jobs, or local church–we have so much to do, so little time!