Back to my Cairo trip and Islamic moments.
I got to thinking last night that it must be the fear factor that brings on many a moment -- like mine last weekend. Not fear of the "other" or fear of differences, but fear of losing ones sense of self once we cross the line and acknowledge that other people -- very happily and with great conviction -- just do it their way, not ours.
Fear of betraying our own cultural beliefs, values and ways of perceiving and being in the world.
Fear of becoming suddenly incompetent in a world where you have no idea how to act and react in a given situation.
Fear of not knowing how to figure it all out, how to access information, choose the information that is relevant, build on it, apply it, develop strategies to become competent in the new environment.
Fear especially of losing your sense of self -- "Who am I" outside of my cultural context.
In connection with my coaching studies, I picked up a book while in the US last March called, "Failing Forward" by John C. Maxwell. The chapter on fear of failure is the one that stuck with me. He says that fear is normal, even a good thing in certain situations, but to go ahead, you need to feel the fear, acknowledge it, accept it and then move through it.
"To conquer fear, you have to feel the fear and take action anyway". I found that quite a liberating idea and can see how it applies to the task of crossing cultures.
Feel the fear and take steps anyway, even small ones, to move forward towards understanding and mastering alternative cultural perspectives.
Wow, I woke up with profound thoughts today.