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Alone You Will Go Faster, But Together You Will Go Farther

join hands

Today at yoga class the teacher paraphrased the well-known African idiom:

 “Alone you will go faster, but within this community, you will go farther.”  Of course it depends on the community or group, but in general, do you subscribe to this thinking?

Despite an increasingly global society, different countries and cultures tend to see the world somewhere between the “I” lens and the “we” lens; where they fall on this spectrum is tied to their core value system. If you were raised in a community that values relationships over tasks, how does this color your opinion of a co-worker who always puts time and getting the job done first, people second? Do you think they are mean, cold and selfish? Do you trust them? Deeply held thinking patterns and beliefs that are rewarded and reinforced by our cultures can show up in unintended ways impacting our ability to build respectful relationships in the workplace and ultimately our careers.

For example, if your boss is extremely time driven (in the US who’s isn’t?) but you knowthat taking time to listen, listen more, and listen even more generously to your staff and team members will give you a comprehensive understanding of how best to move forward, what do you do? Will you be viewed as unprofessional if you have to extend your agreed upon deadline?  Will you be judged as inefficient?

Do you go faster alone, or farther within your group? Knowing where you fall on this spectrum is important among colleagues from your own culture, but is essential when working with people from countries and cultures different from your own. Our brains are wired differently depending on which end of the spectrum we fall. Changing the wiring takes awareness and practice. Build skills to adapt when needed, and trust, that then indeed, you will go farther.