Over the last three years, I traveled and worked in several countries. From India in Asia, Turkey kinda in the Middle, all the way to Canada in North America. The diversity and the contrast between these cultures, and the experiences and skills that I have accumulated made my skin thicker, and they were far beyond what I thought it would be. They have changed who I am, or at least who I think I am: My thoughts. That’s another way of saying, a drastic change.
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page — Saint Augustine
And even though I had a decent experience, I always felt I didn’t have enough, and my ultimate goal and ambition went far beyond the reality: The moon.
When I was thinking about the moon, I was not thinking about how am I going to eat, live, drink, or breathe. It was more about the surrounding environment that I would like to live and work in.
Let me give you examples and ask you some questions to make it clear:
Don’t you think living in a place where you get the chance to craft, create your own work and so your own future without feeling overwhelmed by something, something that feels heavy on your shoulders, or obligated to do something you don’t necessarily like, is a better place?.
A place where there is no discrimination, no labels, no borders, because everyone is the same and the space is wide open, welcoming anyone who would like to be part of it. For example, you won’t hear someone saying “Look at this Chinese, Indian or Russian guy”, even if the intention wasn’t bad. You won’t hear the adjectives “tall, short, black, or white”.
The language itself is different; A language where all the hate and scolding words are stripped off. Only words of love, care, empathy, and understanding. A language that doesn’t create a false, fictitious, illusionary thoughts or feelings through which we see the outside world. For example, If someone is late to work on the earth, chances are, this person will be labeled as “lazy”, and that adjective is likely to stick with that person in our minds, sadly forever.
Your contribution is evaluated by your impact, and not limited to 9–5 working hours — because there are no working hours. In fact, the notion of the word “resume” doesn’t exist. It is only your good soul. You aren’t a cog in a machine, and you’re not measured by how much money you have — because money doesn’t exist, and doesn’t buy you anything, your impact does.
And because we are working in the space, we can interact with each other, we can see each other clearly just like we see ourselves in the mirror, we can move and work freely from anywhere.
In the space, most of our effort is spent on listening to and understanding each other, feeling gratitude, even noticing little things, praising and appreciating. Everyone is felt seen; their feelings, emotions, interests, and problems. Everyone makes an effort to help.
It is a single-family. There is no competition.
I then quickly sat down to imagine and picture such an environment. With such a wonderful and exceptional place, I had to prepare myself for it. I had to learn the tools and acquire the skills needed before taking-off. But, I couldn’t wrap my head around the requirements: What do I need to prepare for?
It turns out to be, it is just as simple as, how to deal with human begins.
Surprisingly, all what I was missing is knowing how to deal with human begins. And yes, even on the moon!.
And in dealing with human begins, here come the lessons.
How to listen.
Seldom do we listen. I, myself, have never listened to anyone!. I think I do, but I don’t. All what I do is just talking.
Even my friends would much rather talk about their achievements than listen about mine. Even when they do, it doesn’t seem so, they just throw out some advice to pretend they care and often blame me for not getting things my way.
The first time I took the courage to do it, it was like something I have never done before when I thought I have. It was extremely hard. I was literally fighting against my mind, trying to get it to do something different it is not used to.
And all I have been doing was talking when I should be listening.
How to see things from other peoples’ perspectives. To mirror their feelings and thoughts. To judge them by their rules and circumstances not by mine. To show empathy, love, and care.
I forgot that I am dealing with creatures of emotions that need to be seen, felt, and acknowledged. This is a human hunger and whoever who genuinely satisfies people’s hunger will get a hold of people in his hand. And I failed to satisfy that hunger.
And all I have been doing was spewing garbage when I just needed a drop of honey.
How to become genuinely interested in other people.
To do things for other people that require time, energy and unselfishness. To think about other people's interests, problems, and to be in the same boat.
I realized that I could have made more friends by just becoming genuinely interested in other people than trying to get other people interested in me. By nature, we are interested in others, when they are interested in us, and it must be sincere and pay off for both sides.
It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provide injuries to others, and eventually fails — Alfred Adler.
Imagine living with someone your entire life and then realizing that you’ve never known that person really well.
I took the trouble to find out more about the people around me, starting with my family. I have known my family since the moment I was born, but the first time I really came to know them well was the time I thought about them. Things that they like, dislike, what makes them happy, worried, sad, and excited. Their dreams, pain, problems, and interests. It was a shocking experience. I realized how selfish, grappling and self-seeking I was.
I took the trouble to find out about the company I have an interview with, their history, culture, core values, the team, get to know them better, like drilling down into their past experiences and searching their areas of interest. And that probably landed me an offer.
It was hard to do, and still, because I am, and we all are, used to thinking about issues that matter for us, from the moment we wake up.
To step away from the fire.
To avoid judgments, criticism, condemnation, and arguments. To avoid wounding a person’s precious pride, hurting their sense of importance, self-esteem, and feelings. To show respect and agreement.
Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn — and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving — Dale Carnegie
I scratched their feelings, their self-importance, and their self-esteem. I was hasty in my actions, harsh in my words.
I stopped all of that. Instead, I started to listen, understand their needs from their point of view, talk about what they want and show how they can get it. And that aroused in them an eager want.
For example, instead of reaching out to a co-worker, commenting on his/her late submissions, I offered a quick coffee chat, where we discuss how to get things done on time. Did I give any direct feedback? No. Did I mention anything related to late submissions? No. I made him/her stir it themselves.
Instead of making others think it is ours, why not let them cook and stir the idea themselves. They will then regard it as their own; they will like it and maybe eat a couple of helpings of it — Dale Carnegie
Next time I want to toss out an idea, I do it subtly, so no one notices it. Asking questions like “Do you think how can we go about doing this?”, “Would like to get your opinion regarding this?“, and lead them all the way to develop my own solution without telling them.
After all, no one likes to feel that he or she is being sold or told to do something. We prefer to feel that we are buying our own ideas.
Stripping person’s dignity will make you unwelcome part of any discussion.
And as far as the judgment is concerned, I realized all the people I was dealing with and meeting are fictitious characters created by illusionary thoughts and based on false assumptions.
And that perception sticks forever. Every interaction with any person is through that pre-formed illusion because this is how our mind used to work; It is far better at leaping to a conclusion rather than at stepping back to analyze our thoughts.
And all what it needs to rewire my brain and build more accurate perceptions is a one, single moment. A moment of breathing; analyzing the ideas about a person and measure it against reality.
For example, what would you do if someone is a bit harsh at you? Of course, that person is labeled as “rude”, “unprofessional”, “garbage”, and you name it. What if I told you his/her parents passed away yesterday in a car accident, does that change your initial thoughts?.
To admit, I am wrong
My self-ego, self-esteem was nudging me. I can’t be wrong, because who wants to be wrong and to take the blame?. It doesn’t feel good, does it?.
But that’s an illusion. I can only be better if I am OK with taking the blame and accepting feedback. And there is nothing wrong with being an average. And there is nothing wrong about committing a mistake.
Have feedback for me? I admit it quickly, openly, and with enthusiasm. And immediately drift the conversation on how I am going to solve it, showing an eagerness to learn instead of resistance.
It clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, and surprisingly, it is a lot more fun!.
To be gentle
Most often I start any conversation with either blaming, asking, complaining, or pouring out some advice. Even though my intentions were good, that doesn’t make me win people my way.
I, instead, sprinkled a bit of gentleness and friendliness, and that thing pays off. It changes their minds, catches their hearts, making them feel relaxed, willingness to open their mind and talk rather than fight.
Every time I ask someone to do me a favor, I praise them first and I do it sincerely. And every time I complain to someone, I briefly discuss their problems first and then shed the light on my problem.
And because actions speak louder than words, I smile; I like you.
He who treads softly goes far — Chinese proverb