As Pacific people, we can feel obliged to gain permission to do things. It’s part of our culture – before entering a new place, new family, even a new job, we’re constantly required to gain permission to arrive, leave and return. Throughout our time at Talanoa, we’ve heard a common question raised amongst young people setting out to chase their dream: “Who am I to do this?”
It’s no coincidence they feel this way. Our culture is a huge part of who we are, and without realising it, it affects the way we live our lives – and business and career pathways are no different. Through cultural influence, we are well known around the world for our humility, kindness and generosity. These are major assets, but can be damaging when humility is incorrectly translated to low confidence, a lack of boundaries and not knowing how to say no.
We’re huge advocates of making the most of our culture – but part of that means knowing where to draw the line. It’s so important to understand that culture is not the problem. Our culture is beautiful, warm and undeniably full of love and respect. The problem arises when culture is used as a vehicle to drive unhelpful ways of thinking. Yes, it may be our culture to be caring, thoughtful and respectful, but the line needs to be drawn when we’re driven to a point where we’re putting others needs before our own, looking down on ourselves or always thinking we’re not good enough. This is not our culture and this is not humility and respect. There are very few things that frustrate me more than when I hear, “oh, that’s just our culture” when an excuse is needed for an explanation of consistently poor behavior. This is untrue, unhealthy and unhelpful and is a huge barrier to reaching our full potential.
We’re in no position to change the past, and how an unhealthy way of thinking has impacted us, but we do have the opportunity to decide how to live our lives today and for the future. The key to moving past our fears and a timid way of thinking is changing the question from “who am I to do this?” to “who am I NOT to do this?”
We’ve all been given incomparable strengths and talents, and instead of doubting yourself, make a conscious effort to change the focus from you to the people you could potentially reach and the lives you could make a difference to if you got your idea, project, or business out into the world.
Success isn’t about you – it’s about helping others. If you’re able to shift the focus from whether you’ll fail or succeed, to how you can help people in your family and community – the worry and fear will begin to transform into motivation and a sense of purpose.
It’s important to remember how big a part our culture plays in the grand scheme of things. As we’ve said time and time again, the positives outweigh the negatives and it’s all about being assertive. Know when to allow cultural influence to impact you for the better, and learn to set strong boundaries to avoid the bad stuff that can happen when we try to overcompensate in the name of culture.
Above all, always remember that your ideas and abilities are valuable, irreplaceable and are needed in the world. You don’t need anyone’s permission but your own to move forward and succeed in life – so don’t sit and watch the world pass you by because of fear and false humility. You can do this!
The world needs what you have to offer. Don’t let another day pass knowing that you haven’t done all that you can to put yourself out there to pursue your dreams – you deserve it, and the world deserves to have that unique skill that only you can give.
Would you like to share your story about your cultural ties? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org