Good question! As I mentioned in my previous post, after 2 years in Yunnan Province my wife and I returned from China sooner than we had planned. There are so many ways to approach the question: “What’s Next?” For me, there are 3 key areas that are top-of-mind:
One of the things I missed most while in China was the opportunity to collaborate with others. Yes, it’s true that learning language and culture has a collaborative element to it. But, it’s not quite the same as working toward a common goal with a group of engineers, scientists, analysts, sourcing, marketing and other professionals. And when that team (or group of collaborators) is culturally and geographically diverse, the challenge and reward of achieving great things together is something I find especially gratifying.
The second thing on my mind is innovation. Working on new technologies and products that are on the forefront of a specific industry or market is hard to beat. Translating untapped customer wants and needs into new products and services has a way of challenging the imagination and intellectual capacity of everyone involved. Not to mention finding ways to do it faster while also managing the technical and market risks inherent in that type of activity. For me, this activity has included working in the advanced vehicle technology field, and I am moving toward returning to that work on a more full-time basis.
Finally, the experience of reflection during our 2-year sabbatical reinforced for me how much I want to be able to invest in the next generation of collaborators, innovators and leaders. I’ve always enjoyed coaching and seeing others grow professionally and personally. Now, my hope is that at this point in my career, my work will include a greater level of intentionality (and impact) in the area of mentoring.
One of the over-arching lessons we took away from our time in China is the importance (and thrill) of continuing to learn – no matter what your age or where you are in life. Each of the above topics are demanding, personally stretching endeavors and require ongoing learning in order to be effective and continue improving. One of our favorite Chinese sayings really captures this notion beautifully:
The literal translation is “Live ’til old, learn ’til old”, or as we say in America: “Lifelong learning”. I hope that will be a good description of me for as long as God allows me to continue breathing.
If you’re in the Austin area and would like additional details, give me a call and I hope we’ll be able to connect in person. Or, you can watch for updates on this blog. We may not be “on-the-ground” in China any more, but we’re definitely “on-the-ground” in Central Texas and I look forward to sharing a few of the interesting twists and turns ahead.
Copyright © Kevin Beaty, YUNEV and “Feet on the Ground…”, 2017. All rights reserved.