Over the years, the practice of making myself uncomfortable and putting myself in unfamiliar situations has proven to be invaluable both personally and professionally.
So much of what I do is help people through the disorienting process of change. It's a practice that continues to inform my efforts as I walk through implementations with my colleagues and clients.
-------------------------April 8, 2008
The Captain and I have a long-running tradition of getting together for dinner before bowling. This tradition has lasted as long as I've lived in the area - through 3 sports, 4 years and more than a couple relationships.
We serve as each other's companion in weird dining. One of us wants to try brains, fugu, crickets, haggis, whatever...we'll call each other first before talking to our respective love interests (much to their relief, I know).
The great thing about living near Washington DC is the diversity of dining choices. If you want to find an esoteric dish - chances are, some local restaurant makes it (though you may have to charm your way into the meal).
Last week, our meanderings sent us looking for a restaurant in the Little Korea section of Annandale. I forget how disorienting it is to not even recognize the letters on the signage in your own backyard. Since neither of us know Korean, we looked for something that resembled a restaurant with a lot of cars in front.
We walked into a Korean noodle parlor. The only way we figured this out was from the waitress repeating "Noodle" as we helplessly pointed at the miscellaneous symbols on the place mat. Finally - we figured to just trust. We wound up with two large bowls of thick noodles. One a black bean-based beef dish. The other, a kimchi-hot seafood stew.
One of the best meals we've had this season.
Occasionally, it's good to put yourself in a situation where you are forced to trust. Often, this is done through travel. But sometimes, you can experience it in your own backyard. It doesn't have to be in foreign languages, just the simple act of going someplace out of your norm.
If I allowed myself to be that disoriented more often, I would be a better educator. I'd be better at recognizing and respecting the shock and awe that comes with encountering something very different and unfamiliar.