The Cycle

In a mere three-months, I feel like I have acquired years of experience…

Two-weeks ago I meet a new expatriate from a neighboring community and I offered advise that would help him settle into the kingdom…. both professionally and personally. I easily sympathized with his frustrations, because I too, navigated similar hurdles.

There was a sense of fulfillment helping him understand ill-rational and often complicated processes. The simplest of matters has a way of turning into a monumental task, in a land where we are a minority on numerous levels. It’s been about 10-days since our first visit and he’s already accomplished a great deal of essential ventures. Not only have we become friends, but he is finding peace with the expatriate life. As expected, a diminishing amount of angst remains while he works through the initial barriers.

Last night I met the newest expatriate, who arrived in kingdom last week. The new hire and his wife joined fellow FD colleagues for dinner. It was important to actively listened, rather than talk as the two vented their frustrations concerning the on-boarding process. Their problems were different, yet much the same. The gathering seemed to be partly a group counseling session, notwithstanding a great deal of comedic relief to my delight.  Each of us shared our own stories, which were eerily similar. It was then that my analytical mind started processing the true “Cycle” of an expatriate. Just for fun, I composed a few mental notes and started exploring the idea of a Cycle Theory. (see my smart art photo below)

It has been interesting to observe a precise and predictable cycle. After only three-months I clearly see the succession everyone endures and I look forward to tracking additional observations. The first couple weeks are stressful for an expatriate, which yields anger and a state of irritability. Even as I reflect on my initial weeks, I realize that I mimicked an analogous pattern.

The Fire Chief mold is that of a classic stencil; many of us promoted to the Officer rank because we have a burning desire to be leaders and a passion to be a part of something bigger. Neither positive nor negative, we often have Type A personalities, a pinch of OCD/ADD, and we tend to be control freaks. Subsequently, leaving our home to live in a foreign country with minimal control proves to be an antagonist for these personality traits. The road-rash along my journey has been negligible, however, I hope to use my knowledge to help others navigate the trials & tribulations ahead of them.

As for me, I’m in a good place. I’m progressing through the CYCLE THEORY with a more keen understanding of my roles and responsibilities. Every day is better than the day before, simply because I strive to find solutions to insurmountable obstacles. Being a part of the world’s largest oil company is an honor, but it does not come without an amble level of stress. The tides are changing and now I’m starting to contribute to the organization, which will guide me to the decisive destination of job satisfaction.

Personally, there is nothing more rewarding than to unselfishly pay it forward. All my life I’ve been a public servant and helping others is what I’m programmed to do. This is true of all my fellow FD expatriate brothers. The mentoring role is an added perk that brings me joy that is only understood by those with a servant heart.

Over time, perhaps my proposed Cycle Theory will continue to pique my interest enough to write something worthy of publication. I’ve opened an internal dialog about finishing my doctorate and this very well could be a basis for a dissertation. Only time will tell….


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