The Epidemic Risk of INconsistency!

For Families, Communities, Organizations and Even Nations...

When we announced our plans to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world. I promised to share both the beauty and the struggle of our experiences.

It’s been easier to capture the beauty and share it.

  • Mostly because it’s energy-filled, it bubbles out and I know that people will be encouraged by it.

Sharing the negative side is tougher.

  • Because it’s hard to write about the things that cause frustration and pain without being judgmental.
  • And it’s even harder to write about them without feeling negative and heavy. (And that is not something I want to pass on to anyone.)

The reality is that our lives here are both beautiful and hard.

Today I started with the beautiful:

I spent time with women from all across the world, soaking in the beauty of our different accents, mannerisms, backgrounds and colors. When our gathering ended I had tea with a neighbor from Eritrea. This woman and I really struggle to understand each other’s words. However, we see something in each other’s hearts that keeps pushing us to try – and each time it gets a little easier.

Both experiences have me bubbling over inside, feeling joyful and thankful for our lives here.

And when I got back home I sat down to finish the article I’ve tried to write for days about one of the biggest struggles we face here:

Inconsistency. (That sounds like a fairly harmless word – right?)

So let me paint you a picture of how that one word has grown into an epidemic that impacts the lives of everyone here on a daily basis.

At work:

Job descriptions and minimum standards are often not defined and changes are not communicated. Employees are expected to read minds and to adjust to the moods and personalities of their titled leaders. (Which means it’s nearly impossible to do their jobs correctly and to feel any sense of accomplishment.)

Pay and accountability are based on your family name and nation of origin not your qualifications or performance. (So there’s not much incentive to learn more or to provide high-quality service.)

It is almost impossible to find someone that can tell you the exact process or steps to get anything done – because the process change daily based on who is doing it and how much work they are willing to do that day. So it can take weeks of constant follow-up to complete a task. (This applies to everything from the paperwork you need to get in and out of the country, to having the Internet hooked up. – It literally took 60 phone calls to get a new Internet service installed at our home!)

FAKE rules are made so that organizations will appear to be compliant with local laws. Other rules are real and made with the expectation that you follow them.  (So after some time here people begin to assume that they have it figured out, but no one really knows for sure…!)

Sometimes people are hired to create job descriptions, processes or procedures for groups of people that aren’t used being accountable for them, and haven’t experienced the benefits of clarity and fairness. (Benefits like: less stress, more synergy, efficiency, effectiveness, pride, joy, and growth…)  Unfortunately it is normal for the hiring managers to bend the very policies they wanted to create.

As a customer:

It’s common for the items that are listed on the menu to not be available. (Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe never.)

It’s normal to find things in the grocery story for a few months and then not again for several months. (It’s a joy-filed day when they appear again!)

It’s not shocking to call a business during business hours and have no one answer the phone.

It’s not surprising to go to the mall or a restaurant during their posted hours of operation and find that they aren’t open. (Maybe running late, maybe closed for inventory, maybe taking a holiday – you guess!)

If you’re waiting for a service to be provided – you better communicate constantly or it won’t happen when it is promised and even if you are communicating constantly there are no guarantees.

You should definitely expect to receive a different level of service based on your nationality and your gender.

Day to day:

You will witness people walking to the front of a line because they don’t think they should have to wait like everyone else.

You won’t get stopped by the police for violating traffic laws: So if you want to drive in the middle of two lanes, drive over the speed limit or suddenly cross three lanes in heavy traffic to get to the exit on the opposite side of the road – go for it! However if you are a certain gender and you choose to drive a car, you are almost guaranteed jail time – even though it is not against the law.

As extreme as all of this sounds:

  • Inconsistency of any kind creates> a lack of clarity and/or unfairness.
  • That lack of clarity and/or unfairness causes > our actions to be unexplainable.
  • Unexplainable actions create stress, erode trust, increase frustration, wear people out, decrease ownership and limit potential.

And as the dominos fall – employees, customers, families, organizations and even nations are impacted.

As a parent, spouse, neighbor, or titled leader your actions will:

Either keep the dominos falling – increasing the odds that this epidemic will go viral where you live.

– OR –

Break the cycle and help you build a stronger and healthier future.

Image Credit:  iStock

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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6 thoughts on “The Epidemic Risk of INconsistency!

  1. Thank you for this glimpse into your experience. Yes, there are wonderful things about the expat experience but because we did not grow up it the culture, we’re also able to notice things that others just see as the way of life. I know that I have challenges here too but I’m still grateful for the opportunity and like you, am not ready for it to end. In fact, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been so changed by the experience that home, in the USA will not feel the same either. Interesting to ponder.

    Thanks, Chery!

    • Alli – You are so right that it is our “fresh eyes” and different experiences that allow us to see things that others can’t. We recently visited with a friend from here that has spent a year in the U.S. and peppered him with questions – trying to understand what he sees that we don’t.

      I’m glad you are not ready to end the adventure yet. (Me either!)

      And you now have me thinking that we need to have a blog party or carnival to share how we this experience has changed us. (I know that I can identify some things, and other things I expect to see more clearly after it is over.)

      I do agree that home will feel different too and wonder what we will appreciate more and what will be more challenging…

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