Faced with a sink or swim situation ~ what do you do?

Many of you are aware that my husband and I are preparing for our first overseas move.  In the past couple of weeks we’ve had to push hard to get all the information we need and reach out to people that are not official owners of the process for help.  (Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to offer help than to ask for it?  …Let alone push for it?)

Thankfully we are finding people who are willing to share their time and their stories and offer their advice.  The downside of that is receiving conflicting information and not being able to discern the truth.  And without the truth we are either webbed in place seeking more information or are forced to just jump in and see what happens!

At the same time, we are meeting others that did not have the information they needed when they landed and have had to overcome much larger obstacles than we have so far.  Imagine accepting a new job, being flown to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, then driven from the airport and dropped off outside of a compound in the middle of the night?  Not at the gate, not inside the gate, not at a hotel but just outside a compound wall, and expected to figure out what to do next on your own!

I can’t begin to tell you how much that triggers my humanity and my sense of right and wrong, or how much faster my heart beats just thinking about it!  And wow – what a powerful case for improving employee retention, customer service and satisfaction etc.!!!

Then just as my heartbeat picks up pace, reminders of recent conversations with experienced expats flash through my mind and my pulse slows again.  Each of them has deep unshakable strength that you can feel when you talk to them, and each one has emphasized how much they enjoy the adventure, how much they learned, how transformational their experiences were and how many times they did it again!

So now I’m developing a theory that the people who thrive in unknown environments are people that have learned how to work through situations that test their courage, their patience and their resolve and have figured out how find or create their own solutions.  …If they are not provided with a rubber raft, scuba gear or a life preserver they begin to look for drift wood, a dolphin fin, or to call upon their immagination!  As a result, they are probably better at thinking like MacGyver than Richard Dean Anderson is!  They’ve learned not only to survive but to thrive!  

Tell me something… What kinds of changes have you been faced with and forced to navigate in work or in life ~ without enough information?  …What did you do?  …What did you learn?  …Are you stronger?  …Wiser?  …Or even a little softer?


 For those of you that are interested in the more personal side of our expat journey:

  • We have sold most of our furniture.
  • We are working with our dog to prepare him for his first flight.
  • We are amazed at how much there is to do each day to be ready.
  • We are starting to feel the increasing tension between our vision and our reality.  And are intentionally spending more time in prayer, and reaching out to others for encouragement and advice.
  • We are thankful that we rented a home when we moved to Tulsa instead of buying one!
  • We are inspired by the warmth and wisdom of experienced expats that we are being introduced to by our network.
  • And every time we reach to our new virtual family that lives on the compound overseas (affectionally referred to as “Sesame Street”) we get more and more excited to meet them!

You can view previous posts about our decision to move outside of our comfort zone here.


photo credits:  iStock photo

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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4 thoughts on “Faced with a sink or swim situation ~ what do you do?

  1. Wow on your compound story – makes MY heart beat fast just thinking about it!

    I am incredibly excited for you as you begin this adventure. I know how much bravery it takes to leave the life that you know in the United States and move into the unknown. The leap is a big one fueled by trust and excitement and hope. When my family and I moved overseas this past July, we worked through our to-do list but I was worried. Worried about the children, their education, their assimilation. I was worried about my business. When my worry turned into truly deeply and honestly knowing that different doesn’t mean worse… just different – I was able to move forward to with more confidence & courage then ever before.

    From one expat to one soon-to-be expat – if there is anything I can do for you – just ask!



    • Alli,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story and your willingness to share your story and expertise! It is so helpful to be reminded that the range of thoughts and emotions that come with this move are normal, and that change represents a growth opportunity! I am hanging on to the vision of more confidence and courage! …And more than anything hope to inspire others to take a risk and do something that makes them uncomfortable – no matter how big or how small that risk is: taking a vaction, looking for a job, moving to another city, going back to school, instigating change at work, embracing change at work, running a marathon, asking someone for help, volunteering, retiring…

      Thanks expat ~ Don’t be surprised when I call you!


  2. Chery,

    I can’t wait to hear about life on your version of Sesame Street – if it’s anything like the PBS version, it will be full of diversity, laughter, love and . . .a few oddball characters!