Friday, April 5, 2013


“In times of change the learners will inherit the earth, while the learned will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”~ Eric Hoffer

Being an Expatriate is something I never in my dreams imagined would happen to me. I never even set a goal to be one. It happened as an overflow of dominating my Genius. There is a very strong message in being focussed and more than enough in nothing else but only what you know.

You have absolutely no idea where it would take you.

My time for living in the overflow of my Genius happened some time towards the end of 2008. When I was summoned to the C.E.O's office, I honestly did not see it coming. I had been in bad books last time I was in that office...albeit instigated by someone...but this was different.

Anyways, long story short, in December 2008, I flew to Kampala Uganda ostensibly to champion a product that had never ever appeard in that market since creation...Mobile Money. Looking back nearlly four years later, there are several things that I wish I would have done better. If I was given the opportunity to do it again, I do not think I will repeat these mistakes ever...neither should you.

  1. Thinking that I am the Expert and Refusing to Learn: No doubt I knew so much about the product than any other person at that moment in time. The biggest mistake I did was not having a mental shift that opens me up as a learner...and not as an expert. Expatriates should be the biggest learners of all. They only know a fraction of a percentage in exchage to the vast knowlege available in the new territory. Knowing What I Now Know...I will humble myself to learn.
  2. Staying HeadStrong and Refusing to Unlearn: This is by far the biggest mistake I did. I thought that the way I did things in my country should be the exact same way I should do...and have others follow suit. This was a mistake. In the end, you end up being frustrated for once...and secondly, you end up alieanating the very people you should work with by making them think that they are stupid. It is kind of dictatorial to think, "My way or the highway!" Knowing what I Now Know, I will always seek to unlearn some mindsets in a new environment.
  3. Magnifying My World above "theirs": It is very easy as an expat to think, "It's all about me, I am the hottest property in the country...dont mess with me!" That is pride..and sometimes it is so subtle you would not even know it is there. My attitude as an expat should be that of humility and servant hood, not of a Master or a Headteacher over scared pupils. Knowing what I Now Know I will always put 'them' first over myself and seek ways to make them better people.
  4. Magnifying the bad, not heralding the good:  I remember becoming so cynical looking for what was 'off' to laugh about. I remember posting on social media such weird things as 'Day and Boarding Driving School'...which actually existed, as well as photoz of waiters in a restaurant who were literally sleeping. It is a choice I made. However, there are millions upon millions of positives that I never really heralded. That effectively denied me the benefit of enjoying the best kept secrets in the country. Knowing What I Now Know, I would be a treasure hunter as an expatriate.
  5. Incessantly Comparing them with myself and finding them wanting: This attitude is a killer of productivity. It is very easy for expats to compare foreigners to themselves...and the systems of the country they are working in with their native countries. This is a mistake. Before you can board that need to know that differences do exist...and you will always find 'them' wanting on your scales if you judged 'them'. Knowing what I Now Know, I would seek to understand 'their' difference and see how best we can synergize with mine for the greater good.
  6. Not Researching about the Country I am going to Work in: Assumptions and presumptions are killers shrouded in pride. Thinking that I know all I need to know and not making any attempts to study my new environment was at best...stupid! You cannot thrive without information. You cannot thrive by awkwardly standing out...sometimes fitting in is extremely crucial just like standing out can be. Knowing What I Now Know, I would seek to understand their social dynamics, demographics, history and even politics for better synergy. Conversations are important for success...the best content for conversations are facts about whom you are conversing with!
  7. Not Learning Their Language: Speaking of conversations, I would really have done well mastering the main language of communication. I have a major weakness here...seeing that I dont like conversing in my mother tongue. Learning 'their' language would have given me off as committed to their betterment...and besides, it would have taken me places where my fluent and borrowed English wouldnt in decades! Knowing What I Now Know, I would strive to understand aspects of 'their' language of communciation that would result in better connection.


  1. when we moved to US, I felt like the "native" and everyone else was the "expat" :) There's heaven and earth kind of difference between developed and developing nations. But regardless, i still carried my own preconceived ideas and notions and halo around my head. Am still a work in progress! Great post.

  2. And that's a great reply Ngina. Your reply forces me to look at the flip side of things...yet my greatest submission is that in either case we ought to be great learners! True, let us all recognize that we are works in progress. Thanks for sharing as usual...and for the great work you are championing over at

  3. Yes, learning is the greater way, either way :) Little correction my site is Intentional Today :) (That's a great url though, unfortunately it was already gone by the time i was registering :) )


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