Peter Scott enjoys a unique cultural perspective.
I have three citizenships: Great Britain, USA, and Canada. Acquired in that order. They're the product not of a CIA assignment but of a restlessness combined with a learned habit of going for the brass ring.

I was born in England (first citizenship: British), and had nearly a year off between high school and university (the "gap year"). I chose to visit America, and decided that I wanted to return there when I graduated. I had no relatives or assistance there beyond what I created, and so I set to getting a job that would land me a visa, eventually scoring one from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Fast forward 15 years and now I am getting married to Grace Tamashiro, whom I met at JPL. We were both unsatisfied with several aspects of the southern California area, and explored ever further up the west coast. When we came to Vancouver Island, we decided that we had found where we wanted to settle. It happened to be in a different country. I said, "I've done this before," and proceeded to follow the same strategy of knocking down barriers until I either got where I wanted to be or was stopped. In this case, I got there, and we've been living here since 1999.

The impact on my coaching has been considerable.
When you're a fish in a bowl, you don't experience water. It doesn't exist any more than you can see the air around you (notwithstanding smoggy days in Los Angeles). It's the already always background, to misquote Heidegger. When you merely visit another culture, you may "broaden your horizons" but you won't see things from a different point of view until you've been embedded in that culture for some years.

It may seem foolish to speak in these terms of Britain, America, and Canada. We're not talking the same kind of culture shock between, say, Ireland and Somalia. After all, they share a common language, no? (Aside from the entertaining vocabulary differences that newspaper columnists turn to when they've got writer's block.)

Well no, it isn't foolish. There are critical differences between the cultures that lie beneath the surface. It took me over a decade in each culture to observe the differences that are all but invisible to people who haven't had the same experience of hoisting themseles out of the fish bowl. That opened my eyes to the possibilities of working with people on levels that have been hidden from them.

The biggest leverage of this kind of awareness lies in the arena of business. It's common knowledge that a western businessperson should have some awareness of the culture of Japan, say, to avoid faux pas there. (Treat business cards like precious gems. Take your time talking about business. Don't expect to hear "No" directly.) But the same expectation isn't common for people traveling between the US-UK-CA markets. I'm here to tell you that there are numerous ways in which you can leverage knowledge of cultural differences to get a leg up (British idiom alert) on the competition.

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