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12 Inevitable Experiences That Third Culture Kids Are Familiar With

12 Inevitable Experiences That Third Culture Kids Are Familiar With

If you have a large family you’ve probably experienced a variety of customs and celebrations growing up. You might have relatives spread all over the world. Your parents might be from two different cultural backgrounds, but your grandparents are from another. There are so many beautiful ways to experience life, but not everyone gets that. Unfortunately, there are some experiences that third culture kids know all too well.

Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the humorous parts of growing up in a multi-cultural family.

1. You dread the question: “Where are you from?”

This is an all too familiar scenario. You are meeting a bunch of cool new people and small-talk ensues. “Where do you work?” “Where did you go to school?” Your heart starts pounding. It won’t be long now until they ask the Origin Question. You wonder how you can condense your life story into two sentences: “My parents are from Location A, but I was born in Location B, and now I live in Location C…” Can we just skip to the next person, please?!

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2.  Holidays are always a big production.

Ah, the holidays. The cheer in the atmosphere, the nippy air, the how-do-I-divide-myself-across-the-continents-this-year? Remember, you gotta send those Christmas cards to your friends in Australia, your relatives in Europe and America, and somehow find your way into your mother’s arms in Asia come Christmas Day!

3. You spend a lot of time on Face Time, Skype, and WhatsApp.

Your phone isn’t running your life, your phone is your life! How else are you going to keep in touch with your mom, dad, brother, sister, childhood best friends, and everyone else without these lifesaving apps? Whether it’s just to say hello or send a picture of that new beau you’re dating, you better be sure everyone’s waiting for a mobile update.

4. You’re always in the state of missing.

When you’re in New York, you miss pochero the way they cooked it in the Philippines. When you’re in the Philippines, you miss the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, or the cafe con leche in Spain. You become attune to things you didn’t even know you noticed: the smell of lavender powder your mother always used, the inflections of speech, the way sweat would cling to your legs on those summer days your spent by the beach… It just makes you wax poetic.

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5. You pick up accents like the Talented Mr. Ripley.

You’re a con artist in the way your accent magically switches depending on who you’re talking to. Most of the time, you sound like a regular American, but your friends think it’s hilarious how you sound glaringly different when you’re talking to your dad on the phone, or whenever you just got off the plane from some exotic locale. Which brings us to the next point.

6. You are bilingual.

Or most probably multilingual. You were modest about it, up until that one night when you had one too many margaritas and started talking to your friends in Spanish/French/Arabic.

7. Travel is like second nature to you.

You absolutely cannot relate to people who say it is their first time on a plane. What’s the fuss all about? You’ve got your neck pillow, a glass of wine, and hundreds of movies to choose from. Chill out. The airplane (and the airport) is your home. Mi casa es su casa, right?

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8.  A part of you will always feel like an outsider.

No matter where you decide to hang your fedora, you always feel a teeny-tiny bit on the outside looking in. You’re not completely from the place you’ve currently decided to call home, but you’re no longer from the other places that you used to call home either. The truth is, you’re not completely from anywhere. However, once you get over the violin music you started hearing when you had that thought, you realize that “home” and “belonging” is less about physical location, but how the people in your life make you feel.

9. You have friends on almost every continent.

Airbnb? Who needs that? Since birds of the same feather flock together, you have friends in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Korea, Singapore, France, etc., etc., etc.

10. You suck at goodbyes.

Even though your life has been a blur of comings and goings, nothing can make you tear up faster than someone saying the G-word. If you’re anything like me, you probably substitute the hated G-word for “See you soon,” even though you know full well that you probably won’t see that person for the next year – or three.

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11. You’re pretty open-minded.

Stinky tofu? Get in my mouth. Need to cover myself from head to toe to enter the temple? It’s handled. You’re taking me to the club in that little rickshaw? On it. You are very much aware of different cultures and traditions and know that what’s faux pas in one country may be the opposite in another. You’ve learned to go with the flow, keep your mind open, and appreciate the differences.

12. You’ve learned that it is indeed possible to have both roots and wings.

For better or for worse, life has been one crazy, global adventure. Even though sometimes you wish things were simpler (and fantasize about shipping all your family and friends into one town), you know that you wouldn’t exchange your experience for anything. Because all the places you’ve been, all the weird food you’ve eaten, all the different people you’ve met – they all make up who you are today.

That just got deep. Mic drop.

Featured photo credit: Travel Necklace via flic.kr

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Last Updated on May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

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