Having grown up in two distinct cultures—Nepali and American—I have had the opportunity to learn the best from each of them. Values such as hard work, humility, and respect are beautiful attributes of Nepali culture. From my work experience in Nepal, I have come to realize three qualities that we can strive for a better professional life. They are understanding the value of time, being accountable for our words, and being patient in the pursuit of our professional goals.
Different cultures perceive and approach time in their own ways. In the American culture, time is literally regarded as money, while Nepali culture looks at time as more of a relative concept. This important distinction has a huge impact in how we go about our personal and professional lives. In Nepal, for example, if you say to someone let’s meet at 10, it is generally considered five to 15 minutes later than the mentioned time. However, in the American culture, if you say to someone let’s meet at 10, it means that you have to be present at the location before 10. By understanding how each culture approaches time, people from Nepali and American cultures can have better communication and relationship with each other.
Rethinking Nepali time
The concept of “Nepali time” has become too common in our culture and we need to seriously consider the impact this is having in our personal and professional lives. While we can casually disregard that it is really not a big deal, this is causing conflict and miscommunication at personal, professional, and national levels. At the personal level, if you are meeting your friends and relatives and consistently coming on “Nepali time” then eventually it can lead to annoyance or you becoming less trustworthy overtime. At the professional level, you and your team are constantly working on projects that have deadlines. If one team member or the team does not understand the urgency or timely delivery of the project, then it can lead to missed deadlines and even the client altogether. At the national level, we hear of many international conferences being held in Nepal and the preparations are mostly done at the last minute. When the international conference is at the door, our government steps up efforts to pave the roads, clean the streets, put up banners everywhere, etc. If the government does proper planning and executes well, it will not only benefit Nepal’s image internationally, but also garner the support and admiration of its citizens.
While “Nepali time” has become a habit for most of us, we can have much better and trustworthy relationships with our friends, relatives, and colleagues by understanding the value of time and showing up when promised. Being on time means you are respectful to others and it is the right thing to do. If you do run late for whatever reason, it is also courteous to communicate that to the person who is waiting on you.
Keep your words
Another quality that is highly regarded in the professional context is being accountable for our words. Words have power. If you want to build trust with someone, the simplest thing you can do is to follow up on your words. If what you say and what you do are not in alignment, then a disagreement, confusion or conflict will surely occur. I have been in countless situations around Nepal where words and verbal commitments do not hold that much weight. Some people use words and make statements very casually. In the professional context, if the verbal commitment you have made to deliver on a project, handle certain responsibilities or follow up on something is not kept, then trust gets lost. Once trust is lost, it will take a long time to gain it back.
In Nepali culture, a lot of time we say things that we do not really mean. We generally want to appear nice and not hurt someone else’s feelings. Thus, we do not communicate directly and leave things in ambiguity. Other times we tend to overpromise on things and underdeliver. In both cases, it is essential to realize what you are saying and how people are interpreting it. It is important to be a person who is authentic and genuine with his or her words.
It is admirable to build a reputation where people can trust what you say and you can be counted upon. If on the other hand, people cannot trust what you say, then you will be left out of many great opportunities in the professional setting. There are times when what you promised cannot be delivered because of unforeseen circumstances that are out of your control. In these circumstances, it is important to promptly communicate to anyone who could be impacted by the situation. These are simple ways to build trust and accountability.
Patience is another quality that can have a profound impact on your professional success and long-term happiness. From my experience of teaching at a college and interviewing individuals for jobs, I have felt so much rush for young professionals to be making a lot of money or be in a higher position. While being ambitious at a young age is noteworthy, it is also important to put in the work and be prepared to achieve the goals. I have met a few young professionals who are extremely dedicated in their craft, but mostly meet those who are targeting for fast success.
There can be a lot of reasons why we are becoming more attached to “overnight” success stories and not understand the full sacrifice, dedication and grit that it takes to become successful. Social media and reality shows have not helped in this regard either as we have become more glued to sensational and unrealistic standards of “success.” It is essential to understand your own goals, be patient in the efforts and take steps accordingly. The fruits of labor gained after struggle and sacrifice is even sweeter.
Many young and experienced professionals in Nepal are climbing up the professional ladder because they understand the value of time, have trust worthy communication, are patient and have other professional skills. In a globalized economy, these qualities are even more important. Combining Nepali cultural values of hard work, humility and respect with a disciplined approach to time, trustworthy communication and being patient, we can live a more fulfilling personal and professional lives.
Link to the article: https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/chasing-success/?categoryId=opinion