“If you see a group of lazy people just sitting around, they are probably drinking coffee.” –our friend, commenting while sitting with Michael and a group of guys while they (you guessed it) drank coffee

“People working cross-culturally are often under-producing, under-achieving, and in a nice way lazy.” –my sort of half remembering of a quote I read in a book

Its harsh, just being said like that. But true. Blame it on all of the cross-cultural adjustments. Blame it on the undefinedness of the job.

For example, say I was a builder or architect in my home country. I was used to going to the big box store and getting everything I needed for a job, going to the site, clocking in, and “just do it” or “gitter done.” In a new culture everything has changed, now I must go to three or four stores to find what I need, and then just decide to make do with something else. Then, in working with other contractors, I realize that they have a much different way of making at cross beam…so they carve their pwn tools and do it handmade, and then it comes out, well, handmade looking (and not in the hand crafted sort of way). My fellow contractors aren’t used to the clocking in thing, just getting the whole thing done by a certain deadline, which often gets pushed back. Their definition of a house, and my definition of a house are different, and done by MUCH different codes.

So, my time-budgeting self feels frustrated by the relationship centered, smoke-break-taking others. Without the tangible markers to measure my SELFHOOD I can feel devalued and depressed. The ways of interacting in a new language or through their imperfect grasp of my language can make relationships feel shallow.

That was if I came cross-culturally to be a builder, which does have fairly defined principles, roofs go on top, foundations on the bottom, and walls on the side.

Now what if I came to be something much less defined like a teacher, or a people builder, or a management consultant, or whatever…like we did. Yeah, we often come away looking and feeling really lazy as we try to navigate the way of working and producing in a new culture with a new set of rules. We often feel paralyzed by a decision, and end up takinga long time to act, because we are trying to evaluate if it is appropriate or needed. Sometimes we plain hide out because we are tired of the stress of cross-cultural acting and living. Sometimes we sit and drink an awful lot of coffee.

So that’s the explanation of the problem, BUT I still have a responsibility to not just live, but to be involved in changing this world. That’s the tension.

One thought on “Productivity

  1. You know, I often feel this way in America – you know, like if I don’ get such and such done…I’m not productive or earning my keep. With five kids my productivity has plummeted, but God has slowly showed me that my calling is to build relationships with my kids and the people he brings in my life…I just have trouble letting go of my “to do” list sometimes…actually…a lot! I always have to remind myself that my value is not resting on my accomplishments…which is a “first-world” mindset I think. I loved this post because it reminded me of my struggle. Funny how you’re so far away..and yet you struggle with that to. I’m sure FAR more than me…. 🙂

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