Spending last weekend in Titanyen, Haiti gave me exactly the life perspective I had been craving. I needed a sense of adventure traveling to a difficult place; I needed to be reminded of how a billion people on earth still live; I needed to get out of my head. The colors and dust and honking tap taps gave me that dose. Now I'm back to the real world reflecting on my weekend in one of the world's least developed nations, recalling truisms I learned while backpacking through Asia 7 years ago. In the spirit of this blog, the reflections below will be those I can apply in my professional life:
1. People are people are people. No matter where in the world you are, how rich or poor, all people want the same things in life: love, acceptance and safety. There are several studies on the hierarchies of need and intellectualism, but from my travel experience, the majority of humans want to be loved by a family member, a friend, a significant other and to love someone in return (and even better if there is at least one person from each relationship category). Every person wants to feel accepted by their family, friend or significant other and usually also by a group in the community. "Community" is used loosely. It could be an online community, a tribe, a huge family of cousins and children, a religious group, whatever type of community is important to that individual. Every person wants and needs to feel safe. Safety and stability are directly related to the love and acceptance, but extend to physical safety associated with the ability to afford food, the safety of an environment free of emotional or physical abuse, disease, gangs, war.
When we remember that all people, in the core of their beings, are the same we can empathize with each other more. Our colleagues and bosses have these same needs and when one of these needs feels threatened, their reactions will manifest into gossiping, screaming at a colleague or subordinate, retreating into an apathetic mental state where they feel safe from criticism, and so on.
2. If you are reading this blog, you are so so lucky!! I assume that you are living in a developed country with access to a computer and an internet connection. If you were born in that country, you are so unbelievably lucky. Lately, I've been stressed out about my exorbitant student loan debt, mortgage, not being able to afford a house (I live in a condo), my mom's medical bills associated with her cancer treatment... but in the end, I was born in the US by complete luck and happenstance, and because of that I will always survive. There are people in the world who literally STARVE to death or are murdered because they want to vote for their president. I will never know that visceral worry of extinction because I am American (and the same can be said for Europeans, Canadians, Australians, Japanese, etc). I am so thankful for that.
3. Integrity is ALWAYS more important than profit. We can't always control where we work and our companies may make business decisions that prioritize profit over quality, environmental safety, or at the expense of a neighborhood or group of people. To the extent possible within a company or industry, always act with integrity through your work and how you interact with co-workers and your staff. At the end of the day, people will remember those that always acted with integrity versus people who did not. I work in the finance industry where profit is the sole reason the industry exists, but while I work I try to empathize and connect with my colleagues and try to make as positive an impact in my community through my company as much as possible by using local service providers and vendors, training finance employees in the Miami community to spot human trafficking violations through financial transactions, and more.