Try Something New. You may like it.
Trying something new is food for growth. Like Tracy Chapman, I grew up with music in my house. There was always something novel to try, from contemporary music. The cuisine was also exceptional. I still love every seafood dish existing. In my childhood home, there was always something new to try. We would always have a string of new people passing through or a new place to visit. We had a 1973 RCA record player housed in a wooden console AM and FM radio and 8 track tape player—ultra-modern at the time. The speakers were built-in, and there was space to store your records.
This wooden box boomed Motown, R&B, and reggae sounds like Ernie Smith’s Pitta Patta and the latest uplifting calypso from monarchs like the late Short-Shirt (see the tribute paid to him by his peers), Swallow, Obstinate, Latumba, bands like Hells Gate Steel Orchestra, among others. These were times when despite attempts to control what calypsonians sang, the kings rebelled and said, “Culture Must Be Free.”
What Free Culture Looks Like
These artists always tried new approaches to their art form, leading them to greatness in their field. Inspirational performers such as Calypso Joe, who did a TEDx talk in 2015, reminded us about world affairs and their home life, making us realize that despite growing up on a small island, we could achieve anything we set our minds to.
In other blogs, I wrote about our adventures sailing and fishing along Willoughby Bay in Antigua. Antiguan culture drives us to embrace novel and unique experiences and to share them later as we replay the richness of life with friends and family. This diversity (enjoying others) and embracing your culture improves quality of life. Furthermore, reveling in cultures leads to novel approaches to finding solutions and improving humankind.
Cardi B Tries…
Cardi Tries is an entertaining example for many of us to follow. Trying new experiences to see what sticks should be something we teach our children. Keep trying different activities in life and see what sticks. I have been following Cardi on Facebook. She has tried ballet, race car driving, ranching, nursery school teaching, and basketball, among others, on her show. Admittedly, I am a Cardi fan. I love her joie de vivre.
Preferring routine, to me, is an exhibition of fearing the unknown. Studies suggest the “fear of the unknown may be a, or possibly the fundamental fear.” I grew up thinking I was shy. Shyness is a response to fear. This happens a lot to some of us as children and teenagers. It is characterized by self-consciousness, negative self-preoccupation, low self-esteem, and fear of judgment and rejection. I think many of us go through this, even as adults. Luckily for me and many of my family and friends, we had an environment that challenged shyness and fear.
Despite my shyness, I had an opinion about everything—as this blog suggests. Any group activity: church, school, university, family, work, would inevitably end with me leading to some common cause. When people insist that you manage often enough, and the results are typically positive, it’s easy to believe you are a leader. Overcoming fear means leaning into it, sometimes being a bit uncomfortable. In my case, there were many fears I had to work on: afraid of failing, afraid of looking foolish or being embarrassed, and fear of negative societal image—like teenage thoughts of “what would my date think of my mammoth over-the-eye pimple?”
Experience has helped a lot. After a big upsetting failure by two grade marks for labor economics when I was in University, I don’t think failure is so bad. I’m not afraid to succeed, either. It’s healthy to be afraid of unsafe situations. I remember scuba diving off a coral reef on the coast of Mauritius years ago, steering at a tentacled lionfish in a cave some two feet (0.6 meters) from my face. Similarly, while walking through the jungle in Guyana, sticking my face between a plant to take pictures of a beautiful poison dart frog. The list goes on. In some cases, I have taken the insight to try new things to an extreme. Having a partner or trusted friend to talk you out of doing some of these things is helpful.
Rewards Come From Trying
My openness to try new things led to me accepting a scholarship under the Lomé IV aid and trade program, from moving to a country where I did not speak the language and had never visited to study for my master’s degree in Economics. My then-boss said she did not think I should go because I would only make an additional $20.74 on my monthly salary. I told her, “that’s $20.74 more than I am making now, so I will go.” Despite her attempts to block my professional improvements, I succeeded, and ironically, we became friends later on.
The experience of studying in Santo Domingo was enriching beyond my wildest imagination. I visited my grandmother’s birthplace, San Pedro de Macoris, learned to speak Spanish, and a lot about Latin culture and history I would not have known if I had stayed in Antigua. That study, plus a short-term training program with the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM)—now the OTN, another leap into the unknown, led me to eventually become a diplomat and international civil servant with the World Trade Organization Secretariat Geneva. Rewards come from trying something new, even if not immediately.
Aviation Career Twice
My second foray into aviation at the executive level was also a leap into the unknown. My first was too. During my university gap years, I worked at LIAT airlines, gaining experience in passenger, courier, and cargo service. I hated working at Customs and Excise Department, my first job after college, because back then, we calculated stacks of paper warrants spending hours looking at rates and tariffs in a Harmonized System customs book. I was dying of boredom. So, when Liat airlines called me for a job a month later, I bolted.
Switzerland, for a second time—the first being during my CRNM training and time in WTO Secretariat in their Development Division—led me to an even richer experience in my career. While there, I tried skiing—cross-country across the Swiss Alps. I still love skiing and wrote a blog about that too. Cardi B should try skiing in one of her future episodes of Cardi Tries. Is she taking requests from fans? I must suggest that to her on social media.
Being willing to try new things means I have to be open. I am open to trying something new or different version of things I have done before. I am ready to learn skating, a technique in cross-country skiing. Unfortunately, this is impossible in Atlanta. Furthermore, with COVID-19, fat chance of traveling to the nearest snow-covered mountain to train. There is also wadi bashing on my list. I tasted this vertebrae-crunching sport during my last visit to U.A.E. for the Dubai Airshow. I will do all of these once the opportunity presents itself. It’s the unknown again. Remember that whatever you try that’s new will have upsides and downsides. Embrace both and remember why you are there, to begin with. The positives will outweigh the negatives.