Even without an ongoing pandemic, maintaining motivation for intentional growth can be a challenge. The wear and tear of day to day life causes our motivation to ebb and flow. For those who live cross-culturally, the motivation to interact with culture diminishes exponentially in times of stress. With the pandemic stretching on, isolation combined with frustration over differing cultural values in responding to the COVID-19 crisis can eat away at our drive to WANT to interact with our host cultures when life “returns to the new normal.”

In the language of cultural intelligence, motivation is referred to as CQ Drive. CQ drive is the interest, persistence, and confidence to adapt cross-culturally. What do we do when this begins to wane?  It is critically important for us to figure this out since there is a direct correlation between our motivation for cross-cultural adaptation and our effectiveness. In addition, our motivation is the root of our resilience. The great news is that we can improve our motivation – both for our everyday tasks and for the important task of being driven to connect cross-culturally.

Our CQ Drive is made up of 3 components: intrinsic interest, extrinsic interest, and self-efficacy. Some people are naturally motivated by their own internal drive and desire. Culture is fun to them and they find cross-cultural interactions interesting. Extrinsic motivation for cross-cultural workers can be benefits they get from these interactions – language fluency or the chance to build a relationship. The third component (self-efficacy) includes the confidence you have to be effective in these scenarios. Isolation can do a lot to erode this confidence when you haven’t had the chance to interact cross-culturally for a while. Here are a few suggestions if you find your CQ Drive waning while walking through this time of COVID -19.

  • How could you build on your current interests by sharing a hobby or sport, for example, with someone from a different culture?
  • Imagine that it’s five years from now and you’re being awarded for the way your cultural intelligence has benefited your ministry. Write down a goal that can help make this a reality.
  • Connect with a friend who works in a different cultural context than you do and learn about the norms of their people group. Think about ways that understanding different norms increases your confidence in working and relating to different sorts of people.