Still smarting from your latest cross-cultural mistake? Whether it was ten minutes or ten days ago, most of us tend to ‘instant-replay’ our mistakes in our minds. But that will hurt your cross-cultural game plan.
So how do you move beyond your latest cultural blunder? Here’s a tip from Andrew Luck.
Andrew Luck blew it
You may know about Luck, the young Indianapolis Colts quarterback. On Saturday January 4 2014, his football team was 28 points behind the relentless Kansas City Chiefs in the third quarter in the AFC playoffs.
According to ESPN, the Colts were so far behind, they had less than 1% of a chance to come from behind and win the game.
They kept making mistakes. At the end of the first half, they had three interceptions and three fumbles. And on the very first play of the second half, Luck threw another interception.
The Colts were a mess
And with the score at 38-10, it seemed they were out of the game. Most teams would cave in, accept the loss, and think of ways to leave the stadium without a riot from the fans.
That’s how you feel when you blow it in your new culture. And you think it’s time to pack it up, go home, and pretend you never tried to “make it” overseas. Just run in damage control mode until the assignment is over.
The secret is in the next play
Think ahead, not behind. That is your four-letter secret.
Because when you make a critical error, you really have two choices.
And rehearsing your mistake trains your brain to repeat that mistake. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
You don’t want to do that.
No, you don’t. You want to choose another option. Let go of your past failure. And think ahead.
Review the next opportunity to engage in conversation in your new language. Rehearse it as if you are fluent.
Play the success in your mind
So review the next interaction. And when you play it in your mind, hear yourself carry on a conversation.
See yourself bowing at the right time. And making sense in your next conversation. Without messing up. It will give a caffeine jolt to your brain.
Which is what Andrew Luck tends to do
In the January 4 game, the Colts fumbled three times. And Luck threw three interceptions. Yet after every fumble or interception, the Colts came back to score a touchdown.
Because Luck ignored the previous play and focused on the next play. Another fumble, and another touchdown. Soon, 38-10 became 38-17. And 38-24. And so on.
Until they won, 45-44.
By choosing to look ahead to the next opportunity to score, the Colts overcame impossible odds.
You have the Andrew Luck Secret, too
It’s called ‘selective awareness.’ It’s the habit of thinking ahead with optimism. Of having complete conversations without messing up. Of winning respect from your host because you took off your shoes and bowed your head with perfection.
You won’t get better by focusing on the past. Sure, you should learn from it. But don’t focus on it. [And don’t call it ‘bad luck’ either. Pardon the pun.]
You are the next Andrew Luck
You have the All-Pro ability that Andrew has. You can let go of your failure and lean into effective language and culture learning. So get moving.
What is your cross-cultural comeback? Continue this conversation and encourage others by leaving a comment below.
Dr. Don Allen
Latest posts by Dr. Don Allen (see all)
- Andrew Luck’s amazing secret for cross-cultural success - January 24, 2014
- Four Surprising Secrets to Cross-Cultural Success - October 25, 2012