Since our return home from Saudi Arabia, (A place I once feared and had zero desire to move to.) I have been facilitating a series of workshops for students – sharing what day-to-day life was like while emphasizing critical life, leadership and people skills that they will need throughout their lives.
In each workshop students are given a visual of a natural process that will happen the rest of their lives – as they decide if they have the courage to leave their comfort zones or the grit to survive when life hands them circumstances they can’t control.
Some of the questions I’ve been asked about Saudi are worth sharing:
What was the best part?
- Living in an International Compound: Sharing life, friendship, and food with people from more than 50 nations and learning from them.
- Riding motorcycle with men and women from all over the world and getting to experience parts of Saudi that many expats don’t get to enjoy. (Yes – My motorcycle jacket had ½ of an abaya attached to it and could be rolled up when I was on the bike and rolled down when I was off the bike. Allowing me to be respectful and safe while enjoying time on the bike with my husband.)
- Vacationing in 11 countries besides Saudi and Bahrain in the 4 years we were there.
What was the hardest thing for you?
When my husband said we were asked to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world my stomach churned so hard I had to sit down.
How was this possible? We said we would go ANYWHERE in the world except – THERE! Scenes from movies and the news melded with my own fears and questions were fired off so rapidly my husband could not reply.
A “yes” wasn’t possible if I could not change my thinking:
- From the losses to the possible gains.
- From the challenges to the possible opportunities.
- From fear to faith.
I was leading a small team in a culturally diverse city in the U.S. when two of my employees asked why all the titled leaders on our leadership team were white.
I was raised in a part of the country that was not culturally diverse, today – nearly a decade after their question 89% of the population in my home state is white and 95% of the county that surrounded the town I grew up in was white. As a result, it was a question I didn’t see coming and one I did not have a good answer for.
I published an article a month ago, about how our international move altered the path I thought I was on to my big dream. In that post I shared how much I trust in this altered path, even though it doesn’t make complete sense yet.
About the time I published that article I heard this quote,
Two weeks ago my husband and I took a vacation to Africa. On the plane I read Nelson Mandela’s book The Long Walk to Freedom, deeply considering how a wide variety of good and bad experiences changed his perspective, caused him to seek truth, ponder deeply, and shaped the man he would become. At several places in his story I thought of different struggles that others have faced that have taken them to their knees and challenged their perspectives and then changed their futures. In the midst of those reflections I wrote these words…
Would you say yes, if you knew:
- That great risk would lead to a greater reward?
- That a job loss would lead to a new career in a new industry?
- That a heartbreaking betrayal would make you softer and stronger and wiser?
- That learning to forgive would help you experience uncommon peace?
- That years of unwanted change and confusion would lead to growth?
- That an uncommon sacrifice would create the change you’ve dreamed of?
- That an ending would create a better beginning?
Several years ago I was in a role that was getting busier and busier. As the demands and distractions poured in I began to feel less energized and lose my focus.
And as my focus shifted, so did the focus of the entire team that I supported. With no corporate retreats in our future we needed to figure out how to refocus and recharge.
1. Create an EXPERIENCE:
- I brought some tiny matchbox cars to a meeting and asked everyone to take a car and personalize it.
- Then I gave them a bunch of foot-long crepe paper streamers and asked them to use a streamer to list one thing that was causing them to lose focus. (And they could use as many streamers as they needed to.)
- There were so many that the streamers quickly covered the cars and we talked about how hard it is to drive forward when you feel so covered up that can’t see the people you are working with, let alone where you are going.
- Then I brought out a rocket. (The kind you buy in a toystore that you can actually launch.) The rocket was “beautifully decorated” with each of our objectives, and we talked about how looking up and focusing on where we were going could help us prioritize the demands and distractions, decrease our confusion and stress and increase our focus and results.
And yes – when we achieved all of our objectives we drove to a field and shot off that rocket!