When I returned to Connecticut after my time with Disney, I encountered quite a bit of culture shock upon my return. Although I had grown up, worked in management, and spent several years away from where I grew up, those I returned to seemed to be suffering from “small town disease”.
What is small town disease? It’s a state of mind that people have when they lack perspective that can come with stepping outside one’s comfort zone to see another way of looking at things. It can also be a closed-minded approach to any outside idea or thought.
Very often, the worst way to deal with those afflicted by this “ailment” is thinking that any outside perspective you bring to the table is the right one. Many times, people who you have left behind may have some resentment towards others who have left or come back, and don’t want to hear what you have to say. Balance your perspective with what people back home are doing well, and you may find that they are doing things a lot better than you considered or observed before.
How do you prevent small town disease? If you don’t get out of town once in a while, the best way to avoid it is always to keep on top of global issues in your industry, whether or not you leave the area. As well, stay open minded to the perspective of those who have gone outside of their area to experience something elsewhere.