Rafa Barreto

Navigating life in a foreign land can be a daunting experience, especially when everything around you feels unfamiliar. I’m Spanish, married to a wonderful person from another country, and our daughter, who is also not Spanish, is the center of our world. My journey of adaptation began when I moved to a country that wasn’t my own. Learning to blend in and thrive in a new environment was challenging, but it taught me invaluable lessons about cultural intelligence.

After some time, we moved to Asia. Starting fresh in a new country brought its own set of hurdles, especially with my desire to launch a successful business after experiencing several setbacks. However, it was during this period of my life that I discovered the power of cultural intelligence. My background as a pilot had equipped me with the skills to communicate across cultures, but I needed more. I needed a strategy to seamlessly integrate into different cultural settings and make meaningful connections. That’s when I devised the acronym GLOBAL, a tool that became instrumental not only in my professional endeavors but in every aspect of my life.

Growth: My initial experiences in a foreign country taught me the importance of personal and professional growth. I realized that to succeed, I needed to embrace lifelong learning. This wasn’t just about understanding a new language or customs but about evolving my mindset to appreciate different perspectives. In my business, growth meant staying adaptable and open to new ideas, which helped me innovate and stay ahead in a competitive market.

Learning: Moving to Asia was a crash course in cultural learning. Every interaction, from business meetings to casual conversations, became a learning opportunity. I learned to listen actively and observe keenly. This not only improved my business negotiations but also deepened my relationships with my family and friends. Understanding my daughter’s unique cultural experiences and supporting her through them became easier when I committed to continuous learning.

Opportunity: Embracing cultural intelligence opened up numerous opportunities. In business, it meant accessing new markets and forging partnerships that I previously thought were out of reach. On a personal level, it meant forming friendships with people from diverse backgrounds, enriching my life with varied perspectives. Seeing these opportunities also helped me rebuild my confidence after past business failures, as I started to view each challenge as a chance to grow and learn.

Bridging: One of the biggest challenges in a multicultural environment is bridging the gap between different cultural norms and practices. GLOBAL taught me to find common ground and build bridges of understanding and respect. In my family, this meant harmonizing our cultural differences to create a loving and inclusive home for our daughter. In business, it meant fostering a work culture where diversity was celebrated and every voice was heard.

Adaptation: Flexibility and adaptation became my guiding principles. I learned that success in a new cultural setting often required me to step out of my comfort zone and adapt to new ways of thinking and doing things. Whether it was adapting my business strategies to fit the local market or adjusting my parenting style to suit our multicultural household, this adaptability was crucial.

Leadership: Finally, GLOBAL helped me develop a leadership style that was inclusive and culturally sensitive. In my professional life, this translated to leading teams with empathy and understanding, ensuring that everyone felt valued and motivated. At home, it meant being a role model for my daughter, showing her the importance of respecting and embracing cultural differences.

The acronym GLOBAL encapsulates the essence of cultural intelligence and its profound impact on my life. It has guided me through personal and professional challenges, helping me build a successful business, foster meaningful relationships, and most importantly, create a nurturing environment for my family. By embracing growth, learning, opportunity, bridging, adaptation, and leadership, I’ve not only found success but also a deeper sense of fulfillment and connection in a diverse world.

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