RECENTLY I HAD A CHANCE to speak on a panel about nurturing international and cross-cultural relationships. This is a wonderfully rich topic, because it can get to the core of who we are as humans.

Here’s the deal: I think I’m normal, but everyone else is various shades of weird.

We’re all like that.

The truth is that we really don’t have a great understanding of ourselves, because we just grew up that way. We were raised with a huge number of norms and assumptions, and it would be difficult to navigate life if we questioned those all the time.

But every culture is different. Certainly cultures across the globe, but also men versus women. Young and old. Black and white. Your organization and the one across the street.

You quickly get overwhelmed by all the stuff you don’t know, and you second-guess yourself at every turn. That’s just as bad as being oblivious to the differences.

So go ahead and read books and articles. Take a cross-cultural training class, it will open your eyes.

But after that, it’s about being honest and humble. You WILL make mistakes, so be ready to apologize. Pay attention.

Because it’s all about learning and growing. As a leader, and as a person on a journey.

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