Appreciating One’s Culture As Well As Accepting That of Others

Another key element of the Bravo Zulu presentation that I have been writing about is appreciating culture. While the initial focus of the presentation is on the various cultures of the branches of the military, as I listened I constantly thought about the multitude of cultures we each encounter every day: family, rank order in a family, an adoptive or in-law relationship family, co-worker family, church family, social organization networks… The list could extend forever.

While often we gravitate toward cultures that reflect our own truths and beliefs, this is not always possible. Take work for example. While every employee may be headed for the same goal, there are lots of ways to get there, numerous interpretations of products and events, and extensive differences in perspectives and opinions. Roughly gathered backgrounds can work as a strengthening force or as a detrimental one. The strengthening comes from listening to and respecting the ideas of others while feeling that one’s own ideas are accepted as well. Listened to, modified, adjusted, and redesigned, a strong group compromises to attain optimal results.

If, however, the group is so seeped in individualism and a lack of ability to consider and evaluate other potentials, the efforts will most likely be detrimental to progress. An inability to think about and reflect on a variety of possibilities inhibits their exposure and growth. A good leader works to advance approaches that vary but have similar objectives; an inept or insecure leader guides through authoritarian practices and disdain for others input.

Our individual culture reflects our attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and values; our functioning group culture rearranges and combines, divides, multiplies, and introduces other analytical functions to create a best case scenario. Groups that stomp, moan, berate, and accept nothing but its own culture rarely achieve long-lasting success.

And so it is within family dynamics. The family who works as a team to confront and solve issues or problems is far more likely to achieve success than one that falls into the pit of negativity and disgust of others. In my Alzheimer’s Support Group caregivers often fret about serious decisions they face in helping a loved one while being attacked by other family members, often those who live far away, who want to monitor from a distance, offer advice without clear understanding of a situations, or who demand changes when they are unaware of the actual circumstances. While I encourage conversation and interaction with those who care about a love one, I also work to strengthen the stance of my attendee. It is much different to care for someone 24/7 or several times a week than it is to dish out advice during or after a once-a-year fly-by visit.