I went to the beach last week. That’s nothing new for me—I surf year-round in New Hampshire, sometimes trudging through snow to get to the beach. This beach was a bit farther away from my usual surf spot. While I was in Africa for the PCI Security Standards Council’s annual Middle East & Africa Forum, I took a day to get to surf at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg and hit the sand at Llandudno Beach in Cape Town.
It was an eye-opening experience—not just because it was a chance to surf somewhere new, but also because it forced me to confront my assumptions.
I’ve looked at maps of Africa since I was a kid, so the fact that Africa is surrounded by two oceans comes as no great surprise to me. But I don’t think I’d ever seen a photo of an African beach—or certainly couldn’t conjure one in my mind’s eye. My image of Africa consists of villages and the savannah. What did I think happened at the coast? Is that where I thought lions become sea lions?
The reality, of course, is that the beaches in Cape Town—and elsewhere in Africa—are spectacular. And that got me thinking—what other assumptions am I carrying around every day? If I could misjudge an entire continent, could I also be misreading people, situations or organizations?
No doubt, I’m sure I am. So there’s my takeaway from my time on the beach: Question my assumptions and help the organizations that I work with do the same. You never know where treasures and opportunities lie once you start doing so.
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