What you can learn from being Irish
There are a number of lessons I have learned about life because of where I am from.
January 1st, 2019, was my first official day living in New York. Since that day, people have often asked me why I left Ireland, especially when they hear me talk about it as the greatest country on earth. Why would anyone leave their home when they love it so much?
There wasn’t just ‘one’ reason. Getting a green card allowed me to work in the movie world. Let’s be fair; by “work,” I mean audition or send scripts in. That was one idea. I’ve always been in love with New York since I was a child. I remember getting a guidebook on New York and reading it cover to cover. I spent a summer over there when I was twenty and, despite knowing nobody, had an amazing time.
Finally, I wanted a new challenge in my career. By 2019, I had been to more than 100 countries and had spoken or delivered workshops in 30 of them. I had built a very successful business as an international speaker. But the US was where all of the greatest speakers in the world seemed to be congregating. That’s where the very best were making their living. I wanted to challenge myself and perform at the very best.
I love living in New York. I love the chaos and the lifestyle. I love the bustling energy and high-rise ambitions. I love the fast-paced rhythm and the unpredictable weather. I’m living where I’m supposed to be living. But what about Ireland?
No matter where I live, for the rest of my life, Ireland will always be my home. I am so proud to be Irish, and I love so many things about my country that it would take books to convey. There are four key lessons I have learned from being Irish.
1) Be kind and friendly
One of the best ways to tell if you are in Ireland is how friendly people are. You don’t always notice it when you are away but when you return home, it becomes immediately obvious. There is also a kindness to the Irish. So many times when I’m in Ireland, I find people trying to help me out. In other countries, it seems like people are often focusing on doing what the rule book says.
2) Always look for the fun and the funny
Something else that I have realized since moving away is how most Irish people I know filter every conversation. We are constantly looking for the ‘craic’. Craic is an Irish term for fun. Whenever I’m around Irish people and those from other parts of the world, it is the Irish that are constantly joking around and looking to smile. Irish people are also the funniest people I have ever met.
3) Be humble
This is one of the qualities that has a positive and a negative. If you succeed in Ireland, it is critical to show humility and be humble in your victory. Give credit to everyone except yourself. Praise the team and those around you. This is a beautiful quality. On the flip side, this tendency can come not because of how gorgeous this quality is but rather the fear of the begrudgers. In Ireland, if you are too successful or confident, some people will want to bring you down a peg or two because you have ‘notions’ or ideas about yourself. A lot of self-confidence or doing really well for yourself is not embraced very much on our island.
4) Be resilient
In our rich history, we have fought against oppressors many times. We tend to fancy the underdog. We value the importance of fighting through and triumphing over adversity. This is an important part of the mental DNA of our nation. The notion of the fighting Irish is accurate but not in the sense that it is typically used. Irish people rarely fight while drinking, in my experience. Indeed, I’ve seen more drunken fistfights in New York or the UK than in Ireland despite growing up there. Instead, the fighting Irish is a good description because we know what it’s like to dig deep and continue moving forward.
There are plenty of things that I don’t like about Ireland as well. I can sometimes feel excluded like I don’t fit in. I feel more disconnected since I left for the States and have lost touch with many friends. I struggle with the weather. Not so much the rain, but the gray skies. Even my stomach struggles more over in Ireland than in New York, getting used to the food again.
But no matter what, it’s still the greatest country in the world and my favorite people in the world. There are so many stereotypes of Irish people, and so many are wrong. The Irish are some of the smartest people out there. We are friendly and kind, and fun-loving. But what makes us even more remarkable is the depth of our talents. From the mesmerizing voice of the late, great Sinead O’Connor to the word wizardry of James Joyce, from the wit of Wilde to the fighting spirit of Katie Taylor, the Irish are known worldwide. We have made our mark.
P.S. If you haven’t already, it is definitely worth checking out my latest podcast interview with Ray J. Green on building a life and business that you want.