Culture shock comes close to describing my experience as a second generation Irish-American in Ireland.
I was frequently told that I needed to learn how to “act Irish”. Apparently this calls for a combination of politeness, passivity, not being direct, self-deprecation, an avoidance of self-promotion, and a tendency toward begrudgery.
Any attempt to fall back on my US-cultivated cultural norms around self promotion, assertiveness and confidence, earned me the label “cheeky,” or “bold,” or “troublesome.”
Personally and professionally, conformity seemed counterproductive at the height of the financial crisis. The negative impact on people’s mental and physical health and well being was palpable. Passivity, while the acceptable default response, seemed a significant part of the problem.
I came to believe that reflecting my contrary perspective, while “bold”, could help others appreciate that:
- A reluctance to self promote, a propensity to begrudge and a tendency to shame success, do not serve us well when competing in a 21st century global economy.
- We can catalyse their own personal and communal change.
- We can take a chance on ourselves.
It’s the message I deliver in coaching and training individuals and small businesses in my private practice and to a wider audience via Neo Ireland.
To that end, Neo Ireland*:
- supports events that serve as an inspirational and educational outreach to SMEs and microbusinesses by providing them with business development support and exposure to wider networks
- Newry Creates
- Women that Work
- supports “Newry Hackers” by making space available to volunteers who mentor young people to develop their IT skills.
- echoes the positive stories and challenges the negativity we experience.
- discourages passivity and inspires a confidence that things can be better.
- encourages people to demand excellence in leadership across the public, private and third sectors.
- works to model tolerance, patience and the possibility of agreeing to disagree.
*Closed in 2015, Empowering Change continues Neo Ireland’s outreach.