Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Cross Cultural Analyses Breaking Free From Our Cultural Chains

Breaking Free From Our Cultural Chains

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The good news is that cultural beliefs are merely self-imposed limitations which act as self-fulfilling prophecies and can be overcome with a shift in mental attitude.  The simple fact is that you can break free from your cultural chains.

Despite all this knowledge, I was stunned at the level of “culture shock” I and my family experienced when we moved continents.  I had worked internationally, visited many times, knew the stuff, had read the literature, and was up to date with the current research.  Therein lay my biggest problem.  I thought I knew.  My expectations were that I would breeze through the transition with no problems whatsoever.

How deluded was I?  I was completely unaware of what I didn’t know (and was acting as though I did).  It’s hard to describe the visceral and emotional reactions that arise when you are thrust out onto the very edges of your experience and you realize, maybe for the first time, that the world is not the place you thought it was.  Not even close.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know, nor did anybody else.  Like speaking a different language, I encountered many situations where there was no shared understanding and we struggled to find it.

Through this experience my eyes were opened a little wider to the diversity of the world and I was humbled as my experience was stretched in unimaginable ways.  At a point I knew at a deeper level that life would never be the same again.  I would never  again ‘know’ with such certainty.  I saw myself and my children emerge from the chains of our culture to find ourselves anew.  My relationship with life has shifted and a new energy has recharged my curiosity.  I am less attached, more agile, and want to learn more about this amazing and diverse world of ours.  I’m even excited to find my place as ever-changing within it.

It seems to me that this is a tension we are all living into at this point in our human evolution.  We are changing so rapidly into a global community that there is much we don’t know.  Yet many of us want to be seduced by the security of knowing, even if it is an illusion.  We want to know.  We need to know.  We cling to the familiar when everything around us is calling us to find a new way, to allow a new world order to emerge.  We all need to learn how to live into the unknown; how to manage complexity and keep stepping forward when all around us is uncertain.  And we need to break free from the ordinary to allow a new ordinary to emerge.

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