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10 Steps to a More Global You

10 Steps to a More Global You
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    There’s no escaping the fact that the world is getting smaller: your company’s vendors might be in India, with customers in Britain, while you are somewhere in the U.S. That’s why employers, from international non-profits to the mom-and-pop stores down the road, want employees able to think globally. Even college admissions look positively on time spent abroad these days.

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    But picking up for a jaunt to another continent isn’t practical for most of us. We have families, jobs and commitments that mean we have to stay put, and travel isn’t often a cheap option. Despite your current location, however, you can cultivate a more global mindset, usually without spending much money.

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    1. Read international literature. Reading a book written by someone with a drastically different background can be instant exposure to a new culture. You can even do it for free — many public libraries make a point of offering books from different nations. Not sure where to start? Consider this list from three percent, the translation blog from the University of Rochester. Don’t stop with literature, either. Consider reading histories, biographies and other non-fiction that can introduce you to global ideas.
    2. Look for local cultural groups. I use Meetup when I look for a group for anything — apparently there are 31 cultural groups within 20 miles of me, ranging from Japanese language to Brazilian dance. As a rule, these groups are more than welcoming to newcomers — including those with little to no knowledge of the culture in question.
    3. Cook new recipes. It’s possible to try out a recipe for an unfamiliar dish without actually learning much about the culture that dish comes from, but I recommend going all at. Chose a recipe you’re not sure where to start with and head down to the local ethnic grocery store. As long as a store isn’t right in the middle of a rush, I’ve found that most storekeepers are more than willing to help me figure out ingredient lists, and give some extra tips to make sure the dish turns out right.
    4. Volunteer. If you live in the U.S., the odds are pretty good that there is some sort of social agency in your town dedicated to helping immigrants adjust. Especially in smaller towns, churches and religious organizations often provide those programs and always need volunteers for various tasks, from teaching English to watching children. While you may spend quite a bit of time helping people to adjust to American culture, you will also have opportunities to see the differences between their backgrounds and the U.S., through their eyes.
    5. Learn a language. Linguists say that you can’t really learn a language without picking up at least some of the culture, so picking up a new tongue can help with your worldview, as well as your resume. While it may not be the easiest task, it is cheap: sites like BBC Languages offer plenty of free resources and educational CDs and software are available at most public libraries.
    6. Go to local festivals. Growing up in Colorado, one of my favorite fairs was the Scottish Festival and Highland Games. When I moved to Oklahoma, I switched my allegiance to the Greek Festival — better street food! Cultural festivals are chock full of new foods to try, performances to watch and experts who will educate you. Even Oktoberfests have a little bit of culture in there, somewhere.
    7. Watch a foreign film. You don’t have to go to special film festivals or indie theaters to watch foreign films these days. There are plenty of DVD options from Netflix to Best Buy, although I’m often reluctant to purchase DVDs that I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy. However, there are also plenty of movies available online and for download — even YouTube has some options. You can also find lectures and documentaries, and even clips of TV shows from other countries.
    8. Attend lectures. Many schools and other organizations open up lectures to the public, allowing people to get a glimpse into the lives of some very interesting people. Consider Greg Mortenson — he’s on a tour to promote Three Cups of Tea, a book about education in Central Asia. During his lectures, he discusses his experiences and how they have changed his point of view. Most of his lectures are entirely open to the public, although many venues do ask for a donation.
    9. Find a pen pal. I’m not suggesting swapping letters — or, more likely emails and IMs — with just anyone, though. See if an overseas member of your company is willing to share their impressions with you, or find someone working in a similar position in an international company. LinkedIn and other social networks are an ideal place to start looking for these sorts of connections.
    10. Consider your own background. How much do you know about where your family comes from and the reasons behind your traditions? Talking to your older relatives can provide insight into your roots, and may even help you to understand the whys of your own culture.

    Don’t forget, though, that once you’ve developed your global worldview, you need to use it. Try to think of new perspectives for projects and consider how situations would play out in a culture with different expectations. You may not be able to change the world, but you can become aware of it. These insights can even improve your understanding of the mechanics of your own culture. I know my time in other cultures has helped me learn new ways to handle business situations.

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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