What is natural

A favourite lecturer of mine once asked why we are surprised about anything we find humans doing - because anything we find them doing is only natural.

It is culture that inhibits, applying imaginary boundaries to what is natural. Sometimes this is beneficial, sometimes this is harmful, often what is perceived as beneficial and harmful will change over time.

We have basic biological needs and constraints. Anything outside of this we have the ability to create, shape and give meaning to.

When encountering a new culture

I am tempted to offer all sorts of suggestions at my new place of work. Things are different here. There are different assumptions; different constraints; different rituals. My immediate reaction is to want to do things that way I am used to doing them. 

I am parking this urge for the time being. While I will offer a few suggestions, my focus is on asking questions and understanding the way things work here first.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that this organisation is functioning, and functioning well. Therefore any reactive suggestions from me may not actually be that useful. It may be adding unnecessary process, or not aligned with the values of the organisation. I want to understand how and why it works first, and then bring my experience into the picture if I think it could help.

The second reason is that I want to unlearn some of my unhelpful habits and assumptions, and the best way to do this is to observe how somebody else does it.

I think that through this approach both the organisation and I will benefit.