What happens when you put together a humanitarian organization that serves the needs of the children of the world, a dynamic advertising agency, and a leadership development consulting firm? You get the trip I am on right now. I’m in the Dominican Republic with a team from the Seattle based ad agency… known as HL2 to serve with Children of Nations. This is one of the coolest things I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in as it’s a team effort between HL2, Children of Nations, and RTDS. We are here to respond to the need in the DR and Haiti, and in the process, help this team be intentional about learning from the experience. The members of my research team have been involved from the start, devising a strategy for understanding how an experience like this impacts a team of businesspeople from the US. In the process, it has taught me so much.
For more information, read on.
If you haven’t been following the events on facebook, here’s the link.
So far the lessons for me are many, but here’s a sampling.
- It’s not about giving up everything you have, but about being aware of what you think you need, and thinking first of what you have. Haitian kids who had lost limbs and had very little food or water and still were smiling, taught me that lesson.
- Dominicans have a different way of thinking about time. It is more important to take the time to have a conversation with you on the street than be on time to my next meeting. Relationship matters here. That said, that may contribute to some of the economic issues the country faces.
- The last 500 years have taken this country through many peaks and valleys and impacts how Dominicans perceive their world.
- Strong-connected leadership matters everywhere. The concept of differentiation and sacrifice matter for the leaders I’ve worked with here too.
- Leaders must set up boundaries and take the heat for it.
- Ph.D. programs in psychology should still require a second language like they used to.
- I miss my wife and boys so much on this trip.
- The dislike and mutual fear between Haitians and Dominicans runs deep, but this tragedy brought them closer. The language barrier plays a huge role in that. Because they don’t understand each other, it makes trust very difficult.
- The children in the Bateys (Haitian villages with many refugees) were the poorest of the poor, and they broke me in half. I fell in love with them. These kids have nothing, nothing, nothing, by western standards..and they were still joyful.
- When we entered villages, I was approached by certain kids right away. It made me wonder whether the same big 5 characteristics show up here too. Ironically, the two boys that my wife and I will be sponsoring were both completely introverted (3 and 6 years old).
- The people here are thankful when they have good work. The idea of doing what I love first and foremost is not the first thing you think about when jobs are scarce. Proving yourself a trustworthy worker comes first. If you drop the ball, you lose your job.
Lessons about myself.
- My heart runs deep for children.
- I am more than committed than ever to developing leaders in the toughest of times, meaningful times.
- Leadership is so important. Our work of studying leadership in depth and developing a generation of leaders will continue in urgency.
- I must continue to be vulnerable, and take risks for the sake of those I am accountable for.
- I am so thankful for my job, my wife, my students, my children, my life….for you.
More later. I will see you all soon. Lead on. I apologize for the typos….