Episode #
083

Seeking "Home" in the World with Act for Change with Lea Misan | TNN83

Listen now:

click here to listen on... itunes, spotify, +

Episode Summary

Across cultures and centuries, people of varied means have made homes for themselves and those they care about. The people who live with us and the material possessions with which we furnish our home space are essential aspects of the place where we dwell. Complex interactions with all these elements give a definition to home as we see it. And as we define home, we also define ourselves in relation to it. Cliche as it seems but home is where the heart is.

Lea Misan, Director of the mental health charity, Act for Change, joins Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski in this episode of The New Nomad. They discussed how we as humans crave connection more than anything and the same thing makes us thrive in this world. They also talked about building relationships impacts digital nomads the most, given their mobility, and creating meaningful connections would benefit their mobile lifestyle. So tune in this week and get ready to learn a lot about relationships, connections, and why no man should be an island.

From the episode

What You'll Learn

  • Supporting each other as a team
  • Travel to become more fluid
  • We're built for community, we're built for connection

Timestamps

[2:45] We don’t always have to choose sides

[7:50] How digital nomads deal with uncertainty

[10:07] Supporting each other as a team

[20:39] Travel to become more fluid

[22:33] We're built for community, we're built for connection

[26:57] Healing generations of wounds

Show Transcript

Allen

Hello, and welcome to The New Nomad podcast. Really happy to have you with us today. Lea Misan is joining us today executive director of Act For Change. And I think we're gonna have really interesting conversations. Because one of the things that's great about this digital nomad community, Andrew, is this community, most of the people I've met, if not all, you know, speak to a higher need to explore the world with an empathetic heart, you know, support people, you know, with with great intentions, working their best to, you know, do social change, and in an increasingly intolerant world, which I know we'll get into, especially with the rise of anti semitism, racism, etc. This is a community that can make a difference. And I think we're gonna have a great conversation with Lea today, who's not only an expat coach, but somebody who speaks very forcefully about stopping violence, stopping anti semitism, racism, etc. Do you get the same feeling I do, Andrew, with our community that people are using travel, to help try to break through some of those barriers?

Andrew

I believe it's one of the side effects, one of the things that occurs as people mature through the process of going outside their comfort zone and being exposed to the different cultures, I think it's a resulting effect of it. So I look forward to Lea's take on this and, and some guidance to all of our listeners and to myself as we can learn from her today. This is great, thank you all for listening and joining in. It's you, your likes and reviews on different podcast platforms, that helps us get the word out. So thanks, everyone, for joining in today. And Lea, this is fabulous. Tell us where are you joining us from today? And what is the number one thing that's on your mind as you join us?

Lea

Thank you, Andrew. I'm joining from London, where I live. And the thing that is most on my mind these days is the level of polarization that we have right now. We're all on one side or on the other on so many different topics, and how we can come together on certain common purpose issues that we have. And still hold those different sides, right? We don't have to choose one side or the other. Both are valued and both have something important to bring.

Allen

Yeah, it's interesting, you've had some wonderful writings, and of course, we'll share this in the show notes. You wrote up something that I thought would be interesting to share with our audience about, institutional versus interpersonal discrimination, and kind of recognizing that. And I think if you could explain how you recognize it helps people to break through it. And I love your comments on that.

Lea

Yeah, thank you. So interpersonal discrimination is I have a bias towards you. And maybe I speak it, but most often, I won't speak it, I will just act from that place, and it'll impact the way we relate, right? Or maybe, maybe it will impact it by the fact that I don't want a relationship with you. I don't want anything to do with you. Maybe I want the benefits of your company, right, the company that you work for. And so I want to be involved in some way with you. But I don't want to relate to you as Allen, that's the interpersonal. The institutional is a lot of the hidden structural discriminations. So for example, in the mental health system, we've done this piece of research, which is why I can talk about it. The premise of the mental health system comes from Western psychology. But in London, we have a very diverse population. And so people come with their own psychologies into the system. And the way the system looks at them when it's not transparent about how it's looking at them, discriminates against them.

Allen

And you come from a psychotherapist background so you would be assisting folks on that. Does this also tie into, you wrote a program for expats, global nomads, etc, called Home in the World? How does this kind of concept tie into what you work with people having them, I would say seeking home in the world?

Lea

Yeah. Well, it ties in because we have to. So I'm a very diverse person and in terms of where I come from, right, and so I've been seeking home in the world all my life, really. But how we find that home and articulate that for ourselves is an important part of also how we then meet the world. So when a person so it links to the mental health system and those discriminations because we we meet that the world from our inner place, and the world we meet also needs to come towards us and meet us in a more transparent way. Rather than putting us in a box, or discriminating against us, or casting us aside.

Allen

It's interesting, because one of the things I love about the global Nomad community is people are searching for that home, but often searching, you know, by kind of visiting many different locations and seeing what what feels right. But also, through that process, I find that most of the people are very empathetic, and are on a journey of self exploration and discovery. So it means people got to do a lot of preparing for change, etc, is that one of the big issues too, that that you tie in that, you know, there are certain people further down that continuum of towards preparing for change or understanding change than others who are like, I have to go to this location. Worried about it, versus somebody who's like, I'm excited to go to this location, I'm going to learn more. And, you know, there's, there's a whole spectrum of folks that we see in support.

Lea

Yeah, so just hearing you, what it reminds me of, is the attitude that we need to go into traveling with, right? So there's that openness, that curiosity, that that you expressed, and then there's the anxiety and stress related to everything around change and something different. And the uncertainty of that. Right. And, and whether people travel or not that right now everyone's dealing with uncertainty, but the global Nomad is dealing with it on a on a much more amplified scale.

Andrew

I think that a lot of people are accustomed to making these jumps and conclusions about people, because we look in the mirror and think, okay, where we look like we're from Germany, or from wherever, so that must be how they're made up. I, myself and my third born son, are very much alike, but he was born in Ghana, in West Africa. And so much happened during our years of living there, that I think through a Ghanian lens, many times, it impacted the way I live, the decisions I make. And people would never look at me thinking, Oh, we should look at him through a West African lens. No, that's never going to be anyone's assumption. And I think that those assumptions we all make about each other, are dangerous.

Lea

They're dangerous and they create these invisible discriminations we have and sharing those differences. Being curious about the differences between us is part of how we can hold those different polarities in the world right now, right? You will talk about 

Andrew

What would be your biggest piece of advice for those who are working with people from all around the world? But yet in the workplace, we have to pretend that everything is on the same footing when it's certainly not. With globally distributed teams, remote companies, people spread around the different time zones and worlds. We get on a task manager we get on a project management software and everyone is suddenly at the same level but obviously not, there's so many hidden nuances and communication obstacles.

Lea

I think the first step is to really know the people that we're dealing with, to be interested in them as people, right? Not just interested in them for the task that they are bringing, right, it goes back to what we spoke about the interpersonal and the institutional. We're not just a task, a cog in the wheel of an organisation, acting functionally with one another. And so what the more we know about each other, the more we're interested in each other, the more we can support one another as a team.

Allen

You know, it's interestingly, because this brings this to mind is, depending on where you are, who you're with, when you first meet somebody in certain places, they'll say, oh, yeah, I'm Allen. And also, what first question is, what do you do? Or who do you work for? Yes. And then in other cultures, you would not get into that conversation until later, where you might, it's more like, who are you? I mean, what are your interests? What makes you? And I think it's interesting that in our community, of expats, digital nomads, etc, there's a lot less emphasis on what you do at work than what you do in the world. And what you do to make yourself interesting, different, you know, what, etc. And I'm not sure if you touched upon this or not in your writings, but you wrote something about rank and related relatedness. Is that part of that tie in on that? Because, you know, I think it's interesting when people quote unquote, pull rank. But that's not a great leadership function, like I'm your boss, you need to do this versus I really relate to this person, I want to follow them. And I think a lot of our audience relatedness is an important feature. Your thoughts?

Lea

Yes. So there's different ways of pulling rank, right? So when we speak, to name, that rank that we come from, and be aware of the impact that it has on the other person helps us to also be related. Right, so I can say, as the head of a company, I hold this position, this rank that I need to make a certain decision about something. And so I hear what you're saying. And at the same time, I still have to go against it. Right? Yep. So I am pulling rank, but I can, I can communicate that I understand the impact that it has on the other person.

Allen

And then there's external functions. So there's been a lot of conversation in many different locations that are expat communities, is the concern of democracy, and kind of freedom. I know, there's elections we just had in Brazil, there's elections in the United States and other places. And you talked about a couple of terms that also piqued my interest, which was outer deep democracy and inner deep democracy. And I think this is an interesting concept for you to share with our audience also. Because if I if I read things properly, you know, deep democracy Won't we want every voice heard. But I don't want to put words in your mouth, help our audience with outer deep and inner deep democracies and the difference and how we can help make people's voice heard.

Lea

So deep democracy is a concept that was articulated by Arnold Mindell in process oriented psychology. And it starts from within, right, it starts from all the parts of ourselves to being able to bring them all together and to speak from that place, not from one part or another part. So for example, someone I know who was just telling me this morning, she for such a long time has come from her fighter part, that when she's put down her fighter part, she doesn't quite know where else you can come from. So she just sits back, totally apathetic. Deep democracy is about bringing all those parts together and, and finding a way forward with from that. And then from that place, we can then invite that deeper democracy in the world. Right? Yeah, bringing together people in our communities that have often been marginalized and listening to what they have to say to us.

Allen

And when I think about that you see the anger. And the people hollering at each other on the news. And it's kind of interesting to me, that our community, you know, we have a lot of folks going to beautiful places to surf, to hike, that to find some solitude. Do you think there's going to be more people over the next 20 years that we'll be looking for kind of maybe even escaping the process and finding solitude? And yeah, you know, that to get away from many of the anger issues that we see?

Lea

Well, I think that's a great question. I think a lot about that. And there are signals that some of that is happening, right. So, so first, our democracy right now isn't working globally, right, because 51% takes carries the vote, and then it leaves another 49%, or whatever it is, on the margin. You know, that's so many people left on the margin. And so that creates that anger you're speaking about. So yes, from the place of those parts, that was inner parts. That part that wants to run away from it all goes to the other end of the world surfing, and exploring new places. And part of that is also a function of the more the state becomes strong, and the less real democracy that we have, the less hurt people feel, and the less meaning they find in their life. So only last week, and in The Economist, there was an article about how people aged 50 to 64 in the UK, are taking retirement in droves, lots of them, because they no longer find their meaning in work in, in their lives in what they've been doing. Right. And a lot of those are going abroad and traveling and becoming nomads.

Andrew

Yeah, the move to change is in the air. More than any other time in the past two or three decades, I believe is that the freedom to do something different the freedom to change careers, the freedom to retire early, the freedom to move countries to move cities, not even outside your own country, just this the rise of desire for difference is stronger than it's ever been. And I'm not sure exactly what would what we could pinpoint that too. I think there's a spectrum of guilty causes there. But as you've seen, you've lived this lifestyle. This isn't new to you, Lea, of picking up and going to different places. But as you've observed this, the shift take place. What are a couple of the pointers you'd give to those who are saying, okay, yes, I'm ready to quit my job, I'm ready to do this? Is your work with people from the inside? And as people prepare for these external changes? What are those top two things that you would say, as guidance points?

Lea

Yes. One is to follow your freedom from the inside out, rather than us to as a reaction to the outside. I think that finding the purpose of what you want to put your life and service to, and follow that wherever in the world it takes you is a great motivator. And, and, and something that gives us energy. And a second thing, I had it a moment ago and it just slipped.

Allen

Well, I know that you mentioned in your writings that a lot of it has to do with finding common ground with others. And you wrote about obstacles to flow. And I think that when I read that, that to me felt spot on that. What is really pleasurable is when you find common ground with somebody, whether they're very much like yourself or completely different be and you know, if you can find common ground in any way, shape or form, you create a connection. And that's what I think's really important. You know, we also know in this community there's a lot of isolation and loneliness as people set off on this journey. And then, of course, they do find common ground with others. And, and certainly, that's got to be something that you address quite a bit with people of, you know, especially on the psychological side of things is, you know, you know, how do I break through isolation and lonely is to experience my best self. Your thoughts?

Lea

Yes. And part of that is the fluidity gaining that fluidity, right. So, like you said earlier, some people come from a very anxious place more rigid in their thinking about it, even when they do travel. And, it's about becoming more fluid between the place I call home inside of me, and the places I encounter on the outside, where I go, and the people I meet, and, and being able to be fluid in that going back and forth.

Allen

I mean, I've learned a lot from Andrew on this is the hardest thing, a lot of times, it's that first step, when you just see somebody standing by themselves at an event and you walk over and say hello. You know, like the meet you, you know.  And people you find that people are actually want to make connections, but they don't know how to do that first step. And often it takes a special person who has, you know, broken through and realizes the worst somebody could say is, I don't want to chat with you right now, that very rarely, if ever happens, most of the time, people are very happy to see you come by it. And rob the third of you for your comments. But I always appreciate it when you and I are out and there are people standing there just waiting for somebody to come by and say hello, and you kind of do and you open the door. And you kind of think well, they could have been doing the same thing. But they haven't broken through. Yes, yeah. on that. And Andrew, thoughts on that?

Andrew

Yeah, reflecting on that just a couple of weeks ago, where I was at an event in Manhattan in New York City. And when I'm talking, I had a table, it was a row of tables went up to a guy during the networking time. And he said, No, I'm the sound and light guy, you know, in a room full of CEOs of venture capital investors, and but you missed it and had a great conversation with him. And it's a thing of so many times we can feel invisible in a place.

Lea

And that goes book.

Andrew

We may look amazing. And other people from the outside are saying, Oh, wow, I'm not talking to that person. They look too important, but to ourselves. So we may be thinking, wow, where is everybody? No one's coming up to me. It's an inner battle of okay, find the other people that are standing there that are waiting on the next conversation. And I think that can be related in so many aspects of life that finding that other person. We're built for community, we're built for connection. And just stepping out and activating that on a regular basis, whether it is the door, the bank, the unloading someone's groceries, that they're as that's a supermarket for him, you know, it can really ricochet into so many aspects of life.

Lea

Yes, I love what you say and doing it. And it reminds me of that place of seeking a home in the real world, right? Because when you feel at home in the world, then you can go up to anyone. Right, you're at home.

Allen

Excellent point. Excellent point. So Lea, this is the time in our podcast that we ask our guests to share perhaps an overlooked person, place or experience that you would love our audience to know about. Would love your thoughts.

Lea

Yes. I need a little moment. You said it at the beginning so it's not exactly an answer to that question, but it relates to it. It's finding that experience that even though it's different that you have, but that there's an echo of it in someone else's experience. So I'll give you an example. I think it was a year ago on clubhouse there was conversations on the war in Gaza. And there were Israelis and Palestinians in that room. And I was listening to and a Palestinian spoke about the keys to their homes in Palestine that they still have. And a Jew was speaking about a similar experience. And I think catching those common experiences that we have It is what helps us understand and connect to each other. Wherever we come from and wherever we travel to.

Allen

That's an open mind. That's tremendous. Amen. So Lea, powerful. Yes, exactly. As we wind up seeking home in the world, where can people find you, and I know you also have a website that you'd like to share, and we'll make sure that this is in the show notes so people can chat with you in greater detail.

Lea

Thank you for that. And so people can find me for coaching and psychotherapy on leamisan.com. And, and that the work of the charity, they can find me on actforchange.org.uk.

Allen

Lea, I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up that you have some very powerful thoughts, and certainly do a great job, like all of us trying to fight anti semitism. Could you comment quickly on some of the initiatives that you have there, too?

Lea

Thank you. So I run a program called Angels of History, which brings together people who are Jewish, exploring their own identity around Judaism, and what are the things from history that we all carry? Right, so that that group is a specifically Jewish group, it could be run with any group of people that come from the same background, looking at healing our own histories, finding the remnants of that anti semitism inside of us, and seeing what we can give back to past generation. So for example, if we catch ourselves withdrawing or being a little bit hidden, not wanting to come forward and show ourselves, we can also give back to past generations who maybe have had to hide to survive, right? Maybe have grandparents was a hidden child or something. And we don't have to stay with that in the way we operate in the world. At the moment, there's a lot of anti semitism that is rising. And so it complicates that picture. And there's more to do on that.

Allen

And what I love about our audiences is our audience is all about working together. An empathetic audience that, you know, hopefully is out there working to bring people together like we are. So Lea, thank you for joining us today. Andrew, I always love to throw it to you for some last thoughts on a very interesting conversation today.

Andrew

Yeah, this is fuel for me, I think that the fire is built on the wood has been put on the fire and this candle all day, as I think about some of the things said today, you know, we're, we're so much more in common with people than we realise. And to take the extra energy to take the effort to is a requirement. It's not optional in life. It's, it's part of our humaneness is to take those things and go deeper with people. So as I come away from today, I'm encouraged and challenged. And I believe that a lot of people listening are saying, okay, yes, I have a few tweaks that I can make in my behaviour. And, and it's, it's very motivating. It's thinking, Okay, this conversation, listening to this podcast, could impact a city or region, a family, a person. So very thought provoking. Thank you, Allen, thank you Lea and everyone who has joined us today.

Lea

Thank you so much, Allen, and Andrew.

Allen

We appreciate it. And you know, what I take away from it too, is I love the fact that many of the people we talk to, you know, visit places that make them uncomfortable, or put themselves in uncomfortable situations, and work to find common ground and make it quote-unquote, a comfortable situation where you, you know, have a deeper understanding of others. And what I took away today also is, you know, you're not quite sure where your home in the world is, might be a temporary place might be a permanent place. But the fact that you're seeking it at all, means you're reaching out to others and then that to me makes you know is part of that finding common ground that we spoke about earlier. So, tremendous job and we really support many of the initiatives we talked about today. So with that, we hope you enjoyed today's podcast. People find these podcasts through word of mouth, so please tell others please give us a review if you enjoyed this, and we look forward to speaking to you again on The New Nomad podcast. Cheers and travel well.

Seeking "Home" in the World with Act for Change with Lea Misan | TNN83

About the Guest

Lea Misan

Lea Misan is an accomplished consultant in systemic psychotherapy and process-oriented psychology who is passionate and dedicated to helping people involved in conflict, abuse, trauma, and leadership. She is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Coach, Founder, and Director of the mental health charity, Act for Change. A firm believer in continuous learning and development, Lea holds an LLB in Law from the London School of Economics and is a Fellow in Holocaust Education with the Imperial War Museum and a Fellow with the School of Social Enterprise. Lea is the author of two books, ‘A Body’s Call to Presence’ and ‘Emerging Figures’ (publication due in early 2023).