Expats Learn Out of The Box Thinking Out of the Country

Some people can’t just stay put. In the movie “Up in the Air,” George Clooney’s character didn’t know how to quit traveling and just stay in one place. There are real people like that. Professional athletes do this all the time all year long. But some go as far stay in one place for long stretches of time.  

These professionals work overseas or in the United States for a fixed-term contract and repatriate when it ends. Others prefer to live and work permanently in their adopted home. Then of course, there are globetrotters who travel more frequently, and may work for different companies or their own businesses.

As more companies now have different offices worldwide, employees find themselves traveling from one office location to the next. As a result, employers are changing attitudes about what it means to be an expat these days. This makes establishing roots not so easy; hence families stay put in their homeland — and just wait for special occasions for their bread winner to come home.

For single travelers, it’s an opportunity to see the world, experience new cultures and meet different types of people. Why many prefer to keep traveling instead of saying put lies in how it nourishes their mind.

In a new book titled “How Non-Conformists Move The World,” psychologist Adam Grant tells us what we’ve known all along. Most of those who move out of their hometown or country essentially come out of their shell and become more creative. It’s nothing new, but Grant does give us many examples and studies in his book.

So you could say that by leaving home, assignees learn how to think out of the box while out of the country. This should be good reading for global mobility professionals. It takes a page from Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Outliers.”

Creativity, after all, is seeing old things in new combinations. The perspectives provided by immersing in another culture helps us gain fresh insights.

It’s one reason many of the recent wave of immigrants in the US succeed, if not persist to succeed. On top of the new experiences they gain, the ones they grew up with gives them more things to work on–and because they are far from home, there’s no room to be complacent. It’s no wonder why most successful startups in the US are founded by foreigners or children born from first-generation immigrants.

Creativity is seeing old things in new combinations. Immersing in a foreign culture helps one arrive at their new selves. “Juxtaposing two different worldviews lets you come up with new possibilities,” Grant says.

Global mobility professionals should have Grant speaking for them. (DC)