This has been an interesting and different week for me. On Tuesday I returned from a five day long trip to Kuwait City and Germany.

I was invited to speak about coaching in healthcare to physicians and healthcare leaders in Kuwait at the 3rd Annual Coaching Conference. The conference was held on March 17, 2013, at the Holiday Inn, Salmiya in Kuwait City. On my way to Kuwait, I had an 8-hour layover in Frankfurt where I took the opportunity to sit down with a good friend for coffee, whom I haven’t seen for more than six years.

The next day, Saturday, I had the chance to relax and explore parts of Kuwait City before the conference started on Sunday. And on my return trip, I had another layover in Frankfurt that I used to meet and laugh with my parents and my uncle.

Overall, this was a very busy, exhausting, and rewarding trip where I was reminded of and learned a couple of meaningful lessons:

  1. Kuwait is a country where 90% of healthcare is delivered through the public system. Just like America, they are going through changes in their health care system where certainty is the missing ingredient. Even though they have a completely different health care system compared to America, the challenges that physicians face are very similar.
  2. The Arabic world with all of its habits and rules is very new and very intriguing. Even though I read about the culture before my travels, I was still unaware of many gestures and cultural practices. Being in this foreign environment raised my awareness level of different cultures to a new height. I didn’t want to give myself up completely; so I combined my cultural awareness and cultural politeness with my German authenticity in a playful way. It worked for me, and I also think it worked for the other parties since they felt acknowledged.
  3. Even though this was a busy trip with very little time, I used this opportunity to meet with my long-time friend and with my family. The time was short, but the quality was superb. Too often we get so caught up with business and professional responsibilities that we forget the personal priorities and relationships that enrich our lives. Life is too short – make sure you make time for the people and things in life that matter to you.