One time I heard a TV show host saying “I’ve learned more in 3 month doing this big show on this channel, than 3 years on the other channel - which was my house since the very beginning and my comfort zone.”
This man spent 18 years on the previous channel and 3 years working on a small TV show. But I can understand his view and feeling. I’ve heard and read about many studies, opinions and theories that goes into this point. Some suggesting that you learn more in a company in the first 6 month! And with experiences it might get you way less time for you to understand the industry and to determine the real issues of a company. Others say that you aren’t learning anything significant after 2 years by staying in a same position - aparrently, the time that it takes (on average) for an employee to be as productive as the previous one that left (though this can be questionable). (It doesn't take you a lot of effort to find immediately some people testifying all of this in multiple parts of the internet, but here's an interesting link
and here's another from Forbes
. Some others believe that it’s when you feel absolutely comfortable that you might jump the wagon to re-challenge yourself. And finally, numbers show that nowadays US companies have a life expectancy of 15 years while in the past, that number was 50 years due to lack of competition (according to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University / read more about this in this article from BBC)
We can argue with the above, that's clear. But while I was walking and living across Europe, I took many impressions with me (some created by myself and others that people shared on some conversations), and that's why I can understand some of those statements.
It’s not that you should jump everytime you get mad at something or feel imediatly uncomfortable. I used to think like that but I believe I’ve managed to change my mind. Time says that you should keep uncomfortable until some extend and trying to find and achieve your stability it’s something good. But days have changed, and so time is running for every of us, even for companies that struggles to keep on top of the market in this digital era but mostly: economic instability.
One time, in Warsaw, my landlord told me “look… there’s hundreds of people that crossed and stayed in this place, and I can tell your story and path is very interesting, to not say fantastic!
”. At the time I’ve told “yes, but ain’t easy, because all transitions bring intense emotions, and obligates you to learn about the new and creates big questions about your present future. And for the cultures, the faster you learn, the better chances you get to feel integrate.
" Well, in some sort of way I still have this unconfortable feelings (although I've started to manage them better). But truth is, if the conditions are not really solid for me (as it goes for, for instance the contract time and terms) then it can be tricky for me and, naturally, I start to wonder about my future. (Maybe I'm wrong about some of my ways of thinking - I mean, about this subject. And maybe I should revisit and rethink about this.). Let me do this break now - What I can tell you for sure is that having a friend or someone that understands your position at your workplace its formidable! And in that sense, I'm very thankful for some extraordinary people, especially from the last agency where I worked (a big bow to Jeremy P. and Louis P.). Back to my landlord from Poland, I ended up saying "This can be magnific, but painful sometimes.
”. Yes, give me a discount, I was very tired and nostalgic that day. Fact is, I’m an easygoing person, so it tends to not be hard anymore this process of processing those crutials informations, and being abroad its always rapidly rewarding. I love to get involved with all the agency mostly when I’m comfortable in doing though (who doesn't?), and essentially to observe and to absorve: the best way to learn the maximum, and fast. And it’s fantastic to realize that every culture is different, so processes and thinkings are different too. There’s a lot you can gain in getting out of your comfort zone.
So let me share with you my views and what I’ve experienced, starting with - probably - what took you here: your curiosity about this subject.Just a parenthesis, experiences are not fairly translatable into words, so I will try to write about the main values
. But I would be thrilled to share more with you if you have questions.
Sharing and improving Culture Work:
When you are a foreigner, you are tremendously respected when you arrive at the place, and you’re obviously supported. Of course, this might not be a rule for everyone, mostly if one or another his a xenophobic or racist (but what's your odds here?). The momento a house or agency opens you their doors, you can ensure that they are open mind. So the process of sharing knowledge it’s more in focus, it’s highlight! Which happens to be normal because you have skills and visions from a different place(s).
Then you might experience a warm feeling, and it’s shared by both parties: the enthusiasm and gratitude. Let me tell one of my stories when I was living and working in Warsaw for a creative graphic design studio. At the very beginning, when I’ve almost immediately created a good relation with the team, I felt the necessity to share insights that could boost positively the studio. And actually, this was something that I’ve tried to do in all of the places I’ve worked. I listen, I present my concerns, and everytime that it's possible I think about solutions for their problematics more than just doing what I'm hired for: designing:
But I have a rule, and I call it the OLA + (in Portuguese, "Olá" means "Hello") and I find it interesting for the time you arrived to a new company.
Curiosity and Suggestion for Possible Improvements
Four + (the plus).
This last one can be translated to the following equation: (issue/possible problematic or space for improvement) + the question "and if we..." (present suggestion) followed by the suggestion + (reference of act implemented and result on a experienced lived elsewhere)."
For instance, when I was in Poland I've noticed that nobody had a clear view of what the team members were really working on and no idea about what was the timeline and the exact path that the company was following, as no clear perspectives of projects. So after the moment that I express some of my ideas in the end of my very first month, they started to take them into consideration. And they took one of them: the MMMs (Monday Morning Meetings). They kept this practice until today (yes, even when I've moved they still decided to do it). And where does this good rule comes from actually? From the company that I was previously working (in Malta). It was a good thing that ended up helping the company on questions that had the necessity of democratic answers and considerations, project and company perspectives/path, project talks and panorama about the week (as about the last and the next one), and many other aspects. This helped the company to stay more connected and aware of almost e-ve-ry-thing!
New friendship and colleagues:
Some cultures are more open to accept and integrate us. But, in general, in a world that is more connected and where you can find people from everywhere, making new friends it’s not an hard task anymore. The great thing about this it’s knowing stories from completely different places and cultures (what a better way of open your mind and promoting your knowledge and viewpoints about the globe?), perspectives and visions that push your mind to accept the unknown and the differences - sometimes difficult, it’s true, but it’s part of the game. And those great moments can originate great memories and even relationships that can stand and be prolongued on time. This fascinates all of us, right?!New places, new ways of life:
I don’t know if you had the chance to live in different cultures, but if so, there’s an aspect that I believe to be transversal to all of us: we look around, we ask where we are, and we realize that everyone has made a story in the place that we’re now discovering. Most people might be already integrated, but you know that probably sooner than later, the same might happen to you. Today the street you’re crossing feels strange. And the old man… this old man lived all his life there and it feels that his staring at you, probably thinking “Where are you coming from?” or “Where is he going?” or even sharing same thoughts with you “How things changed… how the World has changed.”. All of this is normal, and you shouldn't be afraid. At the end of the day, we're citizens of the world.
And tomorrow? Tomorrow means new discoveries. You might go for a walk in the mountains, discovering the rivers, appreciating the weather, the houses, the seller in the grocery happy talking to their customers. Then the voices in a different language, the smell of the land, the colors, forms and textures of your new environment, of the new place you’re living in. But as long as you move, you will feel as part of it. And that’s when you own it!
All of this leads to one destination where all is connected, where you get connected and involved. You will create remarkable and unforgettable life memories. You will grow and improve yourself. You will feel the uncomfortable during periods of times, a type of unconfortability that you wouldn't find in your own country. But it’s normal, and I even feel that this is part of the route, it’s necessary for many of us!
So at the end, being a *discover (expact) it’s like being a bee jumping from flower to flower. How come?! Well.. The bee will be thankful to the flower for taking the polen necessary to create honey and sustain their collonies. And the flower will be happy to the bee for being the pollinators, helping to wild plant growth and consequently... to biodiversity.