Edward Oakden is the British ambassador to the UAE. He has lived in Abu Dhabi for three and a half years and has previously served in Washington, Khartoum and Baghdad.
1. Accentuate The Positive is a pop song that sums up a valuable lesson I've learnt. It goes along the lines of "Eliminate the negative" and "Don't mess with Mister In-between". When I was posted in Washington I saw that Americans are tremendously good at the "can-do" spirit. I learnt to identify the positive in any situation. To make the most of success and find the silver lining in a crisis. I am constantly inspired by the power of the human spirit, even in the most appalling conditions, such as the Sudan famine in 1984, where starving people would share their last bit of bread.
2. See the best in other people and other cultures. If you're the 100th person your hairdresser has seen that day, try to be the one person he will remember by working out what interests him or makes him open up. If you have enough curiosity and energy, you will never come out of an encounter without finding something enriching. Give people the benefit of the doubt until there is proof to the contrary. Be open-minded and understanding; most of the time when things go wrong it is a mistake not a conspiracy.
3. Dream. Aim high. Be the best you can be. On the whole, people underestimate their own capabilities and how far they can go if they push themselves. Pushing yourself doesn't have to be an unpleasant experience. Be clear about your objectives, at home and at work, and on how you want to relate the two. You've only got one life so live every day to the fullest. Living in a foreign country, you think you have all the time in the world to see and do things. You don't. Do it today; who knows what will happen tomorrow?
4. Do as you would be done by - show integrity and accountability for your actions. Be polite and courteous. Try not to speak ill of people or gossip: it doesn't do you justice.
5. Never give up - keep going until the last whistle. There are many ways to achieve your objectives and sometimes the way you get there is not the way you started out. Stay focused on what you want to achieve: prioritise between the urgent and the important. The danger is that in satisfying the short-term requirements you forget the long-term ones. Everyone makes mistakes, the key is whether you learn from them. It ain't over till it's over.
As told to Helena Frith Powell