When Tim & his wife Julia first moved into San Diego, they moved into an area called Imperial Beach. It was affordable and close to the beach. IT sounded like a good choice just by those measures. But as time passed, they found out why it was so affordable. There were a lot of military people in the neighborhood who were constantly moving in and out with transfers & deployments. On top of that, there were some other difficult elements that came with living in that neighborhood, too.
So, they moved up to North Park, away form the beach, but closer to people who would share more likes & lifestyle choices. There was a broader, international community there, and the family got to enjoy reconnecting with some African traditions that were close to Tim’s heart. It was a fun place to live.
But while they enjoyed living there, it still never felt permanent because so much of their hearts were in National City where Tim works & serves. They recently moved down there & have really settled into the community at large. And that move, their third in the city, has made all the difference for them. They now feel at home in the community where they work & serve, and those elements of their life have finally fallen into place…even if there’s not a beach just up the street.
When you’re in business for yourself, or if you run a nonprofit or another organization, you may find yourself looking for that sense of home & belonging between where you live and where you work. As you can see from Tim’s experience, that’s likely going to come with some trial & error, & that’s 100% okay. Allow yourself the space & time to get those things figured out. If you’re going to relocate well, then you have to give yourself time to do it well.
Embracing New Family
In Fillipino tradition, “Lola” or “Lolo” are the affectionate names for people you might call grandfather or grandmother. As Tim’s kids have grown up in the midst of this culture, they are now receiving what he did as a child in Zimbabwe, and it’s really heart warming for him. Something that defined his childhood is now defining the lives of his own children, even within a different cultural context.
As we talk about people, culture & place in the context of our organizations and structures, we have to remember and be very mindful of what people call family, of what defines their culture and the flow & pace of their lives. It’s a pretty well known fact that western culture is highly unusual in that we don’t take an early afternoon break.
The British have their tea time, some hispanic cultures still have that siesta time in the heat of the day, but here in the west we hit that 2:30 doldrum by getting up, getting more coffee and getting back to work, rather than recharging like our bodies tell us to do. We can reset culture in our workplaces, and we can define the pace of life & the work we do together in a way that has a healthy integration with the pace of life outside of work, too.
Tim’s oldest daughter learned a lesson about these different paces and expectations though a gentleman at church, one of their many “Lolos” there, when he would tell her “I’ll take you home with me today.” As westerners, we might think that sounds super creepy.But, he never meant it in a way that would have been off-putting or strange within his personal, cultural context. For him, the offer to take her home was an offer for her and the family to come to his home, for him to show love & hospitality by providing food and building relationship. He was saying, “You’re like a grandchild to me. You can come over to my house anytime.” He was opening up his life to them. Tim calls this “Fridge rights.” It’s that moment in a relationship where you don’t have to ask someone if you can get a drink from their fridge anymore, that level of familiarity is just there.
Within our businesses & organizations, we want regulars. We want to develop relationships with people who come back time & time again. As we do this, opening up our business, our heart, our passions & skillsets to them, we develop relationship that makes an impact on their lives, as well. We bring value, yes, but we’re also bringing ourselves. This interchange of lives & experiences may not be what were looking for in establishing ourselves in a community, but we have to bring the human element into the workplace, or we run the risk of only being a fixture or a tool set for someone, and those can be easily exchanged for another.
Adapt & Overcome
We all have learning curves when it comes to starting in new locations, and relearning what hospitality means is just a part of that equation. We may expect this adjustment to be instantaneous, that we can just walk into a new place, settle in and get moving. Reality says, though, that a “low & slow” approach is most likely what will get us there.
In order to become open, and to relate to others who are different, it’s best to just get into things around you & practice being a person. You just do a little bit every day to grow and expand your experience and over time you’ll just find yourself in that place. Getting accustomed to difference and change helps you enjoy those experiences more and more.
Moving with Kids
When Tim & his family moved back to Indiana from Zimbabwe, there was a lot of change going on around him. You can’t take everything with you when you move over 8,000 miles overseas. And so as a child, Tim was focused on the things that were being left behind. Those items that defined their household were being left behind. The anxiety for him was in tangible difference. He knew his family was going, but Tim’s favorite stuffed animal “Blue Bear” got left behind. And as a kid, leaving that teddy bear behind was the symbol of change. The thing that was bringing him comfort was no longer there, and that’s where the shift came through.
Tim suggests watching your kids as you lead up to these moments of change. It’s easy as a parent to be preoccupied with all of the things that must be dealt with for a move, and sometimes we neglect to focus on the situation from our children’s point of view. Talk with them. Engage them in the process, give them ownership in the move, and see what they have to say about the whole process.
If you’re relocating with kids, it’s super important to walk through the process with them. We have three older children, and we had loads of conversations with them about our cross country move. We brought them along ahead of time, we talked about all the fun things that were ahead of us & we talked about the tough parts of leaving people, places & things behind.
And even if you don’t have kids, be open & honest with yourself. Give yourself the allowance to deal with the fun parts & the hard parts of making a move. Even if you’re just relocating your business across town, it can be loads of fun, or it can be frustrating & difficult. Your attitude throughout it all matters more than you may know. However you slice it, change is coming. How will you meet it when it comes?