Thursday, July 16, 2009

My American emotions

Yes, yes and yes again. I think English or rather American is an emotional language. I hear a lot of French people saying American is an easy language, not complex enough to be very subtle, and so on...

Well that is just wrong. It is wrong because when you know this language deeper you discover its wealth of subtlety. I do believe American language plays really the role a language should play : It's a way. A way to express the more accurately possible what we think and feel in order to socialize ourselves.

And I think it's a generous language, really not proud. It may sound like an odd statement but when I think about my own language, I see it as something that has its own identity, almost independant of people, althought it doesn't exist without us. It's that kind of pride, these embellishments...

When I'm angry, I speak English. When I'm happy, I speak English. When I'm sad too. When I speak to animals. When I hurt myself. It comes from deep inside of me and it's activated by the emotion itself. It's pretty natural to me. And it has something to do with the strengh and emotional power or relieving power of words.

It may be hard to understand, but when I'm late for an appointment, looking for my keys in the appartment, eventually find them, run in the street, miss the bus then take the subway, then realize I forgot the file I needed for this appointment, I can only say "FUCK !!!". It's not elegant, no. But just saying "MERDE !!!" wouldn't be enough you see. Because it's a bit too far from what I really feel at that moment, it's too weak. Although the English word is perfectly balanced because when I say it, I express my emotion accurately enough to start thinking in a smart way even if, I agree, I'll still be 1 hour late.

I also noticed how our senses are part of the language in English. For example, if you look at a wedding picture and no one is smiling on it, you can say : "They don't look very enthusiastic !". You use the verb "look" because it's through your sense of sight that you can say so. Then, if your sister calls you and talks with no energy or happiness about the party she's giving next week, you can say: "You don't sound very enthusiastic !". You got the point.

In French, we use (too much) our sense of sight. We say "tu as l'air..." which is "you look..." in many situations, even on the phone, because the body doesn't have its place in our language. Although, that's through our body first that we apprehend the world around us.

Let's take all this a step further. I think that everything is related and seeing the relations between elements is interesting and necessary. So my point is that if Americans are tactile it's partly because of their language. The straightforwardness of it, its closeness to emotions and feelings and physical perceptions of life make people more tactile. They need to feel others around them, welcome them with a word and a hug. It's important.

How can you possibly feel alive and close to people with a language far from your own emotions ?

I can't.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mandatory inspiration

To most French people who have a career and are independant in their professional choices, observing and learning from the Americans' way of doing things is "the next step" in their professional evolution. I'm talking about business men, designers, actors, writers, CEOs...

Yes, Americans have a reputation of doers, a proved one.

And I think that what makes them work better or faster or bigger, is their great sense of community. Teams.

Of course, everyone has personal interests but the important understanding from Americans is that it's only through the community, the strengths put together, that their own interests are satisfied and that the results they get can go beyond their expectations because no one should underestimate the power of people working together with the same goal.

There's also the notion of being part of something...

Makes me remember of the making of the movie "The Lord of the Rings". I was so amazed by all these people working so hard on a specific domain, so accurately, being perfectionists because they're part of it, because without one of them, it can collapse, because it's worth it. And all that with so much enthusiasm even though they almost had no sleep or the day was stormy and the shooting schedule had changed.

Americans believe more than us French in challenge and in what it brings to them and to the group. To surpass oneself.

Besides, it's interesting to notice that in French when we want to motivate people or ourselves to start doing something, we always use "Let's go", "Let's do it", because it gives us the extra-energy we miss, sometimes the illusion of it, but it can push people to take action now, to generate that mood, to see challenges as opportunities to do better and strengthen their team.

And yes, I definitely think that this difference has something to do with the notion of individual and his place. In France, we cultivate individualism because we don't see the value and power of being part of a group to achieve things. We don't want to be the cog in the wheel. Of course if it's of someone else's mechanism, it's normal to want more. But to me, Americans know how worthy it is to add quality people to your team and feel that you're at the right place at the right moment because you're working on something important for you and the people with you.

It's a great lesson. Every French people who ever went to the US to work or watch people work say so. There are some here who have adopted that way of doing things but because they don't find many people like them they do something I would do...

...They move to the United States to live not a dream but an effective reality.