Eight Things I Learned From the Irish after Living in Dublin for three Years
I landed in Dublin, Ireland in October of 2013, a bit more than three years ago. While I was already familiar with local culture, habits, and people (I am married to an Irish woman), it was difficult to fully grasp all the nuances and complex dynamics of this country from abroad.
But now, all those things are much clearer to me. More importantly they have greatly enriched my both my life and my way of thinking.
Here are eight invaluable things I have learned from the Irish.
- “…It’ll be grand” — ( business analogy #1: think positive all the time)
If you think about a country that went through a lot during its history, Ireland ranks pretty high in the chart. Optimism is the fuel of this country where literally everyone is focused on the half full glass all the time.
My previous stop in life was France, and I must say that this Irish attitude to life really struck me as a big characterising feature. It’s something I truly love about this country.
2. Talk to strangers on the street for no apparent reason — ( business analogy #2: curiosity is at the core of every discovery)
If you are waiting for the bus, or you simply are at the bar in a pub, it is almost guaranteed that someone will strike up a conversation with you. This was rather startling for me when I first arrived in the country, though I have come to appreciate it since.
The Irish are, by nature, open and curious, especially with foreigners. They are genuinely interested in you; more than that, they have the innate ability to squeeze their entire life into a two-minute conversation and they are also prepared to share it all with you.
3. Make a friend a day: the bigger the friend, the better — ( business analogy #3: grow your social network as densely as you can )
I actually read the first part of the sentence in Jameson, Irish Distillers HQ. Written by Monsieur Francois Ricard, it summarizes the way the Irish think; the more friends, the better. And if you are my enemy, I might turn you into a frenemy too. If you are a big guy, I am going to make an extra effort to be your friend.
4. A pint of Guinness is more than enough — ( business analogy #4 you can achieve a lot with a little)
Despite the hype of the Celtic tiger, I still find that frugality permeates Irish society, at least at some level. Many people I know here truly enjoy simple lives.
You don’t need to be in a private Caribbean beach drinking cocktails in a posh resort to be happy. You can be happy on the couch with a book, or by sharing a pint of Guinness with a trusted friend.
5. Discuss important stuff in the kitchen over of a cup of tea- ( business analogy #5: put family and family members first)
In the traditional Irish language, “Clann” means family. As in my native country, Italy, family has a massive importance on culture.
Although some people say that this is not true anymore, I still see how the support network of families make your life so much easier and warm.
6. The gift of the gab — (business analogy #6: rhetoric and ability to influence is important at the early stage of a business)
If you visit the Blarney castle in beautiful county Cork, you will be able kiss a magic stone and will get the eternal gift of eloquence (in Irish ‘solabharthact’) — the ‘Gift of the Gab’.
Countless poets and literates were born in this country where storytelling is ingrained in the culture. I must admit that the Irish are so good at it that sometimes it can be frustrating in specific contexts (e.g. you are trying to sell something to an Irish person / they are trying to sell you something).
7. Go out for a walk even if it is raining — ( business analogy #7: be brave, even when the outlook is gloomy)
As an Italian, this was probably one of the most important things I learned in Ireland. The fact that the weather is so dynamic here literally means that you won’t be able to predict whether or not it will be pouring in ten minutes.
To an Irishman, this means that if you leave the house and you ignore the bad weather, chances are you will be enjoy the sun down the road. This way of thinking has massive implications in the way they face adversity and life in general.
8.‘…when you are swimming in a small pond, behave!’ — ( business analogy #8: treat everyone with respect)
I think that Ireland has the same population of Milano, or Boston if you prefer comparing with the U.S. This means that in “big” cities like Dublin, if you are a runner, chances are that you will get to know many runners in Dublin. If you are in IT, you will get acquainted with a large portion of the IT community.
Knowing everyone has its own advantages but also has the big disadvantage that if you screw up, everyone will know!
There’s probably a lot more to say about this incredible country and about their friendly inhabitants. As usual, the richness of history and culture permeates everything we do and everything we like here. it’s such a refreshing feeling!