Out of My Element

Earlier this year I had an opportunity to participate on a team that consulted for a large hospital overseas. It was the first time I worked on a project like that, and to say it was an eye-opening experience is the understatement of the year. Much has been written about moving out of one’s comfort zone, but this assignment was something far beyond taking a baby step and trying something new.

Frame of Reference…Where?
Although I traveled to a country that required its citizens to be fluent in their native tongue as well as English, the entire healthcare system was organized in a dramatically different way compared to what I’m accustomed to. The norms, procedures, customs, politics and expectations were all new. I quickly found myself trying to force-fit my world-view onto their situation so I could “fix” the many challenges facing this organization.

Uh-oh. Since when was forcing my view on someone else a good idea?

Listen, Learn, Listen Some More

I very quickly realized I needed to slow down and stop being so…well…me. I was the visitor, I was the outsider, I was also being viewed as an expert to bring a fresh perspective. I needed to understand what these talented people were going through before I jumped to any conclusions or solutions. (That is hard for me to do.)

Learning is Good
Once I slowed down and took the time to soak up all of the information that was so generously being shared with me and the other members of our HR Team, I could begin to not only appreciate the challenges but also identify options to make changes within their system. The project wasn’t about me, or the American healthcare system, or what was wrong with their system. It was about working together to bring ideas to the table to make progress. Last time I checked, making progress is a good thing.

How About You
Are you the “expert?” If so, how do you let others know? Is it through a series of regular proclamations that are shared with those around you; or, do you listen, learn, and lead those around you to make progress?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of lisafrancesjudd