I conducted my first interview for my book in Colombia yesterday. I interviewed an amazing man who was raised in a life of great privilege and chose to leave it behind to honor his inner calling to help the poor. I am working on my Living from Passion and Purpose blog to share his story.
The interview was part of my overall effort to get out there and meet interesting people in Colombia. To further support this effort, I went to a meeting of coaches and consultants yesterday. They all belong to a group that I belong to in the States and it was really nice to meet people here with a similar mindset and interests.
Of course, cultural differences came up as they always do. It’s hard not to generalize and not to come off as an American know-it-all as I write this, but just like cuisine is not a strength of the English (sorry to any Brits who beg to differ but traveling through small towns in your part of the world was a gastronomical challenge), organizational skills and timeliness are not a Colombian strength. Most people showed up late for the meeting; it was a bit disorganized and the facilitators had a tough time getting participants to stick with the agenda and not go off on tangents for long periods of time.
You think I would be used to this after a year in Colombia and yet it still seems to impact me. When I make a plan to meet a fellow coach an hour before the meeting and she shows up thirty minutes late and announces that she has to now go get some supplies for the meeting, without so much as an apology, I can feel my blood pressure rise. I know it’s a different culture (and I am not the timeliest of people) but it is so ingrained in me that it is rude and disrespectful to make somebody else wait for me that I can’t help but wonder: why does this person think that her time is more important than mine? Why does she think that traffic is a reasonable excuse? There is always traffic in Bogota. I left early enough to account for traffic and get here on time. Why couldn’t she?
OK, I should stop. I am getting myself all worked up. Clearly one of my lessons living here is to learn to relax. Efficiency is not the answer to everything (but it sure is nice when you are trying to balance work, writing, three kids and traffic). OK, time to breathe deeply…..