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IC Personal Competency 5: Inner Purpose

Similar to the competency, ‘Goal-orientation’, which entails the balancing of one’s own goals with the goals of others (see Knowledge Competencies), the competency ‘Inner purpose’ points to the importance of possessing internal goals, internal stability and a sense of dedication and direction. Intercultural work can pose difficult challenges and exert a high level of stress. It is, therefore, critically important to be able to maintain a sense of focus and not to let external factors shake one’s sense of self, one’s identity or values. A strong sense of purpose is vital to intercultural work, especially if it involves being removed from one’s family and social networks.
 
 Case Study Example: Maintaining a sense of purpose  
 
One of the eChina-UK projects got off to a very difficult start, because the British and Chinese partners had very different expectations as to what the project should focus on and deliver. The director of the British project had a very strong sense of purpose, and this helped her tremendously in starting the project off on the right track when she was faced with pressure to do something different. Her strong sense of inner purpose can be seen from the following comments:
Brit 19:
 
Well, I think there was a mismatch in the expectations, […] I felt there was a big gulf between their expectations and where we were coming from. Although I don’t know much about Chinese culture, I’m from a Mediterranean culture, and I’m not easily put down by someone stamping their feet and saying I want this and I want that. And although I’m hot tempered, when I encounter something like that, I become extremely cool, and I say well, terribly sorry, but these are the parameters, I’m quite happy to extend those parameters but if you want that, then we’re not the right people. And if you take that very firm stand, while being polite and helpful, but a firm stand, then I find that people come half your way. Although it was hard at the beginning, I think by being very clear about what we could do, and could do well, and we were still prepared to negotiate and listen to their needs, I think we came halfway to an understanding. 
 
 
cift_arrow.gif Tip: Reflect on your own values and beliefs: what gives you a sense of purpose in your job?