"The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon..."
– John Clare, English poet, 1793-1864 –
That was how John Clare, the "Northamptonshire Peasant Poet," described November of his beloved English countryside.
Some of us may begin to get into the "soul-searching" reflective mood as we approach the year-end season. Twelve months ago, we wrote about Nietzsche's "AMORT FATI" (TCG's 2018 Nov Newsletter,) much has happened since. Looking back, I am not sure if I am a total subscriber to Nietzsche's philosophy. To a certain extent, being human, there will always be "misses" in our lives, on things that we have done or said. However, instead of calling them "regrets," I prefer to look at those "misses" as lessons learnt or experience gained. Do I wish I could have changed them, "no," but will I do it differently if it happens again, of course "yes - that is if I could." So, I suppose, after all, I selectively subscribe to "AMORT FATI"...
November is usually linked to Thanksgiving. It is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of the month in the USA. Therefore, this year, it will be rather late in our calendar (28th November.) Together with the lesser-known but equally important International Tolerance Day (16th), let's try to reflect on the good things we have been given in life, and think of what we can do for those less fortunate. Tolerance is what we each can easily exercise and provide. Living together in peace can start anywhere, and it will help make our world a better place.
To ponder as we step into a month for " deep reflections."
One of our former interns, YZ Yan, now studying at McGill University, took this beautiful autumn picture. Montreal (Montréal) is in the Canadian French-speaking province of Quebec. While there, one can try out the Poutine, a famous Montreal dish, and catch a Cirque du Soleil's performance!
A Journey A Month...
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.
Montreal is where one can find the international headquarter of the famous "Cirque du Soleil," a contemporary circus company founded by two former street performers. Within a short span in time since 1984, it has grown into a company with ~4,000 employees, encompassing 1,300 artists from around 50 countries.
The first time I watched a "Cirque du Soleil" show was at the Bellagio, Las Vegas in the late 1990s. The theme of that show was "O." Before that, my world of the circus was traditional exotic animals, funny clowns, and some acrobatic performances. So, like all others who watched the show for the first time, it was an awe-inspiring experience.
Since, I have watched multiple Cirque du Soleil's productions in cities around the world. The last was at Fukuoka, our Japanese friend who gave us the tickets was also a close friend of a member of the performing troupe, so we were given an exclusive private backstage tour after the show. This was when I realised how complex it can be to put together such a show. Besides creativity, the use of technology, and the hard works of practicing each and every move are simply mind-boggling.
When we mention "Cirque du Soleil", business people will always talk about how it has managed to reinvent the circus, and thus created a new market space, of what we call the blue ocean strategy.
After that backstage tour in Japan, I was more intrigued by how they have managed to leverage the diverse talents from its troupe so successfully, resulting in the perfect creation and execution of such captivating performances.
For those who have watched the Cirque du Soleil's shows before, you know that each show will have a theme, telling a story, not just artistic but intertwined with cultural fables and futuristic plots. Each top-notch production involves many hours of hard works and creative ideas behind.
I once had a manager who grew up in a circus. 'R' was in charge of five of us from five different countries. Despite the challenge that none of us knew each other before, he seemed to possess the natural ability to "bind" us together very quickly. He first identified a common goal and communicated that to us. Then, through little things and actions, he helped to build a shared identity that we felt we each had the ownership, and therefore could be proud of.
Instead of asking us to conform, he actually encouraged us to remain different. His recipe for leading his team was a success. We were able to draw from our different cultural knowledge to attain goals that not many could have achieved. Looking back, I can see that 'R' was able to leverage on our differences, and I wonder if that was one of those soft-skills he picked up from his circus days.
According to our partner, the Cultural Intelligence Centre in the USA, research result shows that one should not assume diversity will automatically result in high creativity. To outperform a homogenous group in creativity, a diverse group will need to have high CQ (cultural intelligence). Of course, selecting a suitable high CQ individual to lead a diverse team is definitely very critical. Diversity is like a double-edged sword, it can make or break a team.
I can't find any specific case-study on how Cirque du Soleil manages diversity. Judging from the creativity level of its shows, I think diversity is likely to play an important role in its success.
So, the next time when a Cirque du Soleil's show is in town, I hope you can go watch it. Perhaps you may even want to plan it as a company outing for your multi-cultural team.
Other than the excitement from the stunning acrobatic performance and a fun day, I believe we can all learn much from this amazing circus.
We, at TransCultural Group (TCG), are determined to play our parts in making the world a better place, and we have teamed up with the Cultural Intelligence Centre, U.S.A to bring their well-researched and designed CQ assessment tools to our clients in the Asia Pacific.
We are passionate about building bridges and breaking down walls. Please join us in our journey,
Beyond Boundaries - Crossing Cultures
The world is fascinating, simply because differences exist...
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