Have you ever been in a situation where you felt a change was about to happen in your career but you were too frightened to even start? I think we all have experienced this issue before and I would like to call it the “horrible mountain of tasks” that leads to a block in activity. It’s similar to sports. Once you stopped doing sports it is really hard to be motivated again.

For the last four weeks, I had two heavy moving boxes in my office with folders that I need to keep for 10 years. I did not know how I could carry those boxes home and it was painful to ask others for help. Finally last week a friend offered a sort of trolley. I noticed that I just had to break down the task into several steps so I could easily do it alone. It gave me a strong sense of satisfaction when the boxes were finally in the attic. This small exercise gave me a bit of back pain but also triggered the wish to clean up my office even further today. When I was pulling the trolley across the road I thought that this was a wonderful image for you to learn about the “horrible mountain of tasks”.

I believe that there are two ways to deal with a lack of motivation for any task. One is that you engage in the purpose. You clearly define why this task helps you to fulfill your purpose in life, your profession and on earth. The other trick is to hack the “horrible mountain of tasks” into smaller bits and pieces, make it doable and start with a small baby step.

I read* that you will perform a habit if you are able to run the same task on 21 consecutive days. I would like you to think about a habit you would like to develop and then run this task for 21 days. It is important that you do not raise the bar too high. An example could be that you practice German for 25 minutes or that you clean up your desk before you leave the office or that you read for 25 minutes in the morning.  Even if you read anything you are excited about this practice will enforce your wish for learning. The topic could be on fly fishing or in my case Bollywood trash.

With regards to job hunting, I would like to suggest that you develop your social media muscle. Here are a few ideas what you could do. Remember to set the goal low. You could say: I will work on social media for 25 minutes every day. These are the tasks I will try to perform in one week.

1) Start the week with LinkedIn endorsements. Endorse 5 of your contacts each week for 1 specific skill.
2) Congratulate contacts on new jobs and reach out to at least two contacts for a lunch appointment or meeting.
3) Write one blog post of 500 to 800 words and offer it to bloggers in your industry as a guest blog.
4) Read one industry report and write a short summary and share it with three LinkedIn groups in your industry.

Please let me know what you experienced.

Have a great week ahead,
Angie

More on LinkedIn:

https://www.fastcompany.com/3067594/hit-the-ground-running/this-is-what-recruiters-look-for-on-your-linkedin-profile
https://blog.linkedin.com/2016/10/06/now-you-can-privately-signal-to-recruiters-youre-open-to-new-job

*I think it was in one of Jeff Goins’s podcasts or videos.

In 1995 I went to study abroad in Tasmania, Australia. Naturally, my friends and I wanted to learn diving during our holidays. We went up to the Great Barrier Reef and learnt to dive. Needless to say diving is to date one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Under water I am at peace with the world and the fish schools amaze me. Fishes can also be quite funny or annoyed. They have feelings and they collaborate in their schools. They are a bit like the modern global professionals. I hope you are a diver and can relate to the feeling of a deep dive early morning (before 6 am) where everyone is getting up and quirky. Where you feel happy because of creation and the miracles the world entails, where you are just in the moment – an observer and yet part of it all. If you are a diver you also know about the security stop. You and your diving buddy take a rest before the final ascent. For the non-divers this is done because of nitrogen and time you need to get it out of your system.
I took a security stop this year, a very short holiday to Dubai. I haven’t posted it on Facebook because I did not want to meet anyone. I wanted to be alone with one of my long-term buddies, my best friend and we talked a lot. We allowed ourselves to let some of the dirt out of our system. The dirt that collects there when you take more in than you let out. The dirt of critique, small failures, over-indulging and even worse pessimistic thinking. After a few days we felt like human beings again. Productivity is great and I like to get stuff done and tick off checklists and write down how much I have achieved during a day, but once in a while, you need to allow yourself a break from performing.

 

Sometimes it is helpful not to have an agenda.  A week to be yourself without access to a laptop and limited online time gives you back the feeling of your body, maybe you recognize all the slack that you caught there over the year. My friend returned to the office and was welcomed with a promotion. My body decided to go into standby completely with a flu. Let’s say I did not achieve a lot in December. When I showed up at my family’s home on Christmas eve I was calm and for a few days I could just give my family members the attention they deserve. Isn’t that why we are alive? To love?

 

We thought we should pull together the main reasons according to our experience that hinder expat spouses from finding a job in the host country. This is a non-scientific analysis based on opinion and experience. There a number of studies dedicated to the topic though. Mainly Global Mobility providers research how family impacts expat failure. In my view this is not enough. We should investigate how we can bring down the barriers to host employment. Let me know if you think I forgot an important topic.

Why is it so difficult for expat spouses to find a job in the host country? Here is a short analysis of the issues.

Work Permit Restrictions

Finding a job is not as straightforward for many of my clients as it is in their home countries. Work permit restrictions are a significant barrier to expat spouse employment. Not every country issues a work permit to the married spouse. Let alone the diversity of life partners mentioned earlier.

Lack of Host Language Skills

Even though the expat might work for a global company most jobs in the host country will require host language skills. Unless you move from the UK to the USA, you often will not have the language skills required to work in the host country.

Lack of Recognition of University Degrees in Regulated Fields

While within the EU we can assume that university degrees will be recognized due to the common job market, a Brazilian doctor cannot work in a hospital in Switzerland. We call this a “regulated profession”.

Lack of Transferable Knowledge

Lawyers, tax consultants, and even HR Professionals are often experts in their country, but the knowledge is often limited to the country and not transferrable. Even moving from Canada to Australia can be tricky if you are a lawyer.

Lack of Professional Networks

Another issue is the lack of a professional network, which gives access to the untapped and informal labor market in the host country. Often you can only join professional associations when you are in a corporate role or when you have graduated in the country.

Lack of Support in the Global Mobility Policy

Only very forward thinking global mobility and global recruiting policies address the need for support for “trailing” dual career partner. While ten years ago dual-career issues on international assignments were solved by sticking to a classical Western nuclear “family” models, we now want to adhere to the needs of dual careers, patchwork families, Eastern “family” models, same-sex partners and unmarried de- facto relationships.

Visionary Global Mobility policies address various support models ranging from providing a lump sum to spousal career coaching. As an intercultural career advisor, I also work with clients who decide to start a global, transferable business so that they can follow their life partner to other locations and become location-independent. Thanks to technology I can support clients in NYC as well as in Mumbai. We also support candidates to improve their personal branding in the host market, learn to network effectively, improve their interview skills and online presentations but GM Leaders need to update their policies

We also support candidates to improve their personal branding in the host market, learn to network effectively, improve their interview skills and online presentations. Global Mobility Leaders should update their policies and promote spouse support services rather than pay lump sums.

Intercultural bias of our Recruiters

Our recruiters often do not understand intercultural differences. Recruiters often don’t understand résumés from another country and outsourcing of talent specialists into HR shared service centers has not improved the chances of “foreign” candidates in the recruitment process.

Most selection methods and assessments are culturally biased. For example, in Switzerland, psychometric testing and other assessments of candidates are used to assess candidates next to interviews. Riedel (2015) shows examples where highly skilled candidates from China fell through the assessment roster in a German company because of their indirect communication style.

Unconscious bias of Sending Home Sponsors

PwC issued a study in 2016 on female expatriation where it becomes very obvious that a lot more women would be interested in an international assignment than the ones that are actually sent.

This is probably due to the unconscious bias of the sending home sponsors who assume a female manager is not mobile even though she might have mentioned it several times. I speak from experience.

Lack of Research to Measure Impact of Dual Career Programs

In 2012 ETH Zurich conducted extensive research with several European universities on barriers to dual careers within the EU and EFTA countries. While this research probably focused on scientists it is hardly known. We assume that companies working with support programs for their dual career population seem to have higher retention rates but we lack scientific evidence. I am highly encouraging students and lecturers to address this issue.

To sum it up there is still a lot to do in order to integrate the needs of dual career couples in the expatriation process.

On the receiving end, I can report that more and more expat spouses are male. There is hope.

 

References:

Riedel, Tim (2015): “Internationale Personalauswahl” 

Weinberger, A. (2016): “The Global Mobility Workbook”, Global People Transitions, Zurich.

Weinberger, A. (2015): „Interkulturell denken bringt Vorteile“ Persorama Summer 2015.

 

By Caitlin Krause

A new calendar year prompts a feeling of open possibility, and a curiosity to discover and realize our greatest potentials, in business and beyond. We’re undoubtedly living in times of rapid change and high demand; times of immense challenge. I certainly feel it– all I need to do is glance at daily news headlines to have a feeling of perspective and urgency.

We want to ensure that the work we’re doing is valued; we want to know that it matters, and matches our own personal goals and resolutions (which, let’s face it, span far beyond the hype and trend of the new year). We strive to maintain a sense of balance, as we navigate this complex world, maintaining focus and resilience, while maximizing our capabilities. In addition, the global corporate culture and increased connectivity require even more flexibility, and broader skill sets that encompass a range of intelligences, including emotional intelligence and empathy.

Instead of feeling daunted, it’s the ideal time for us to invite some mindfulness into the equation. Here we are in a complex, fascinating environment, ripe with opportunity. The field of global mobility and intercultural exchange has never been more exciting– and, there has never been a higher demand for everyone to develop these skills and abilities, across all industries and vocations. It’s a time when adopting a modern, holistic global competency model is imperative– one that embraces a flexible, resilient mindset. Integrating mindfulness values and practices into a model of global competency makes perfect sense, and has significant long-term benefits for career, health, well-being and happiness.

I have a client who travels between five hub cities, located in three separate continents, on a regular basis. In each place, she has a slightly different lifestyle, and varied expectations to fulfill the job requirement. When she discovered the uses mindfulness has in increasing flexibility, resilience, and stress management, she was amazed at the positive impact. Mindfulness, and specifically the methods I’ve developed, can be summed up by 3 A’s: awareness, advancement, and authenticity. I custom-design mindfulness programs that are experiential, practical, and sustainable. By focusing on providing support, engagement, personalization and expertise, individuals can build on the traditional dimensions of the Global Competency Model described by Weinberger (2016) that are already well-recognized in truly diverse intercultural competency programs.

The connection between global competency and mindfulness is clear, and it’s enhanced my own experience. When I first moved overseas to Belgium, I was busy teaching, coaching, and adjusting to the new environment at the same time– plus, setting up a home. I was impatient with myself for struggling with my basic-level French; at the same time, I didn’t yet anticipate the cultural norms that take time to adjust to– everything from taking a ticket as a number to stand in line at the bakery to the fact that all stores are closed on Sundays, which was the one day that I didn’t coach or teach full-time– this was constantly a surprise, and my initial reaction was to look at my own naïveté as a form of failure.

Mindfulness taught me to flip this concept– I embraced my own enhanced awareness, celebrating the foibles that I could then laugh about, convincing myself that someday they will become part of a book (which could be a Bill Bryson spinoff titled: “Bumbling through Belgium”). I began to feel gratitude for my vitality– for the very feeling, uncomfortable at times, that reminds me that I’m alive(!). I felt immensely grateful for the mix of backgrounds and experiences that create the unexpected. I also grew to appreciate that a population is not homogenous, yet we share underlying truths and a certain mutual respect and dignity. These insights are also embedded in mindfulness– an appreciation for what is, in the moment, even as we set-goals and look toward the emerging future.

In a globalised working culture, mindfulness is especially valuable because it gives agency back to the individual. It gave me a better sense of stability, even in situations that were beyond my ability to anticipate and fully control. Because of this, mindfulness also increased my connection capacity in place of fragmentation. In other words, I was able to reach out and connect with others more easily, because I was more self-aware and had developed skills of resiliency. I was confident, not despite my challenges, but because of them. In Stanford researcher Carol Dweck’s seminal book Mindset, she relates this capacity to growth mindset, and it’s all about mindfulness, self-awareness, and embracing the rigor instead of denying or avoiding it.

We live in the midst of a global corporate climate that is rife with burnout, stress and depression. Recent studies cite stress and burnout as the top threat to workplace health, resulting in great losses across all quality measurement areas, including employee work satisfaction, job retention, company culture, and revenue. The rate of burnout continues to increase each year; mindfulness is seen as a top strategy and method to provide burnout prevention. Instead of succumbing to this threatening trend, looking at establishing an environment that promotes the best, most adaptive and advantageous state of well-being is the answer for global leadership.

As a burnout prevention measure, stress reducer, leadership and confidence booster, creativity cultivator, and overall well-being motivator and life enhancer, mindfulness serves as a necessary base layer for a holistic model of leadership, learning and global competency. For me, it’s a lens to look through, and it can be applied to just about everything.

This could be why, when I’m asked to define mindfulness, I call it simply: “a way to be in the world”– with awareness (understanding of surrounding context), advancement (having a sense of purpose), and authenticity (detaching from judgment; focusing on situations while maintaining resilience). I use these three A’s as foundational pillars for designing applications and programs.

Being globally competent involves developing a wide range of capacities– and, the ability to truly reflect on the learning experience and acknowledge the complexity of global systems involves great awareness– including cultural awareness, emotional awareness and self awareness.

I apply this philosophy with many different practical approaches, making it real, personal, holistic, and able to be experienced by each individual in a powerful way. In addition, it reinforces the sense of community, which is perfectly in-line with global mobility dimensions of supporting the whole person in a long-term, reflective approach that encompasses a multitude of lifelong learning facets and personal experiences.

Recognizing our own multi-dimensional natures and experiences, this makes perfect sense, allowing us to build our abilities and reach goals while staying grounded in this complex, inter-connected global landscape. Combining mindfulness and global competency could yield a new, even more powerful concept: mindful global competency. Let’s test it out!

Kicking off the New Year, I have already dedicated myself to several aspirations and goals, many of which are definitely “curiosity-driven” pursuits, all embedded in a framework of mindful global competency. I’ll invite you to try out a few exercises, to test the process for yourself and give it a go. See what it feels like to sit down and write your own answers to the following. Just go with where your reflections take you, in the moment, without over-thinking:

  • Awareness: Record something, in a description, that made you happy yesterday. Include as many of the five senses as possible. For example, if you were happy when you went for a hike in the woods, try to describe the temperature, the feel of it, the colors and sights around you, etc. Try to bring yourself back there through the writing.
  • Advancing: Write down three attributes that you have that you value in yourself– these could be any quality, from trustworthiness to funny to For each quality, what is a life situation that you have experienced– an “anecdote”– that illustrates it in your life? Feel free to think of examples that have humor. Could you practice by sharing this out loud with someone else? Sometimes, these illustrated moments make for great connection points, yet we deny ourselves the right to “own them” and appreciate them.
  • Authentic: Think back to an experience where the time itself was not what you expected in the short term, yet it offered some sort of long-term benefit. Describe the situation in detail, using a “before” perspective (anticipation), a “during” (experience), and an “after” (reflection). What do you appreciate about it now, in hindsight? How do you think it adds some flavor and dimension to your life?

Sometimes, just taking time to record our own reflections and thoughts about these experiences can lend us deeper clarity and insight. For me, building components of writing and storytelling into my mindfulness practice adds an extra layer of appreciation, insight, and what I call “connection capacity”. May it add to your life, too. After all, 2017 is wide open with possibility, and we all want to make the most of that!

Wishing you a wonderful year, filled with surprise and delight, enjoying the ride.

Caitlin

 

Guest post by Caitlin Krause, Founder & CEO, MindWise.

Caitlin Krause  is a creative collaborator  with a curiosity-driven mindset. As the founder of MindWise, she’s a writer, storyteller, teacher, speaker, VR designer, artist and leadership specialist. Her passion for active, sustainable, ethically-driven leadership and learning models drives her work. 

Empowering personal and organizational change, MindWise’s core “AAA” values are: Aware, Advancing, and Authentic. Caitlin integrates best practices and new discoveries about creativity, neuroscience, mindfulness and technology to promote immersive empathetic experiences on a local and global scale. 

 

Reference:

Weinberger, A. (2016): The Global Mobility Workbook, print ed., Global People Transitions, Zurich


This article sums up our discussion over the last weeks:

Forget Robots! The Attention-Robbers Are Hurting Your Job Prospects More  – J.T. O’Donnell

An exciting year comes to the end and despite the turmoil in the world, despite the political agendas and against the current “polaristic worldview“* I am proud to say that our global team has further expanded. We work with freelancers in Pakistan, Finland, the US and Switzerland and some of our clients join us via Skype from New York City, Pune and the UK. Living diversity and being with clients and people from all over the world is the best gift for me. So, I don’t really have any further wishes for the holidays.

I wish that you find time to relax and spend quality time with your loved ones. Also, that all your career aims and life aspirations will materialize in 2017.

Happy Holidays!

Angie and the Global People Transitions Team

PS: We still have space in our HireMe! Groups! If you are looking for a career change or want to find that job in Switzerland come to see me.

 

*”Polaristic worldview”: According to Milton Bennett this happens in the second phase of intercultural sensitivity development (called defense) where we fight the existence of intercultural differences and argue in a them versus us narrative. Read more.

 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/forget-robots-attention-robbers-hurting-your-job-more-j-t-o-donnell?trk=prof-post