Why Bridges trump Walls

At our company’s home base, in the United States, there has been a lot of talk in recent months about the potential benefits of having a wall built along the country’s southern border. While I typically refrain from mixing politics and work, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I am not very enthusiastic about walls. As someone who grew up in a country that was once divided by a wall, with a capital city separated by a wall, I think I can say with a certain degree of authority: Walls don’t work.

It escapes me who said it first: The only thing you create with a 10-foot wall is a market for 11-foot ladders.
Well, ladders didn’t exactly bring down the Berlin wall. But you get my point. It is the people who decide that they would rather connect than separate.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of being interviewed for Netzwirtschaft, a German publication which looks at business, marketing, and technology with an internet focus. When they asked me how I describe myself, I pointed out my preference for bridges. While I grew up in the free Western part of divided Germany, I’ve always felt the limiting powers of walls. And I experienced their uselessness in the years that followed 1989.

As you can see, the home page of this website is plastered with images of bridges.
Bridges work. They connect people. They are tools to overcome what separates us.
That is what I am passionate about: Helping people create the bridges they need to cross cultures with ease and showing them ways to overcome what separates us.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 5.56.37 PMIn my talk with Netzwirtschaft I had the opportunity to share more about the mission of The Culture Mastery. If you speak German, you might enjoy reading the entire interview.

Among other topics, I emphasized the fact that our clients trust us and rely on us that we will lead their teams to more success across cultural borders. This would be hard to accomplish without bridges.
The people whom we have the privilege of coaching, training, and mentoring experience how the label “normal” becomes irrelevant. In fact, there are thousands of “normals” around the world. And all of these systems of values and norms are equally valid. As we build bridges between corporate and national cultures we expand the horizon of global leaders. Only if we master the transition between cultures will be successful in global business.

One of the main building materials for these bridges is vulnerability. When you work with us you will hear a lot about the superpower of this character trait. Authenticity wins – and we understand that you will only be an authentic leader, if you are able to reveal your vulnerable side. It’s not a weakness, it is a strength.
A superpower.

Those who are not ashamed of their mistakes, faux pas, and gaffes when interacting with other cultures will go much further in international business than the know-it-alls, perfectionists, dogmatists, and wall builders.

Who’s ready to build some bridges?

 

Christian Höferle

 

 


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  1. Christian this is a wonderful post. I do agree that bridges are where we need to go as individuals, societies and as a human race. Collaboration and reciprocity are the direction of healthy interpersonal and intercultural relationships. Division and estrangement only promote disfunction.

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