I remember back in the 1980’s there was a TV series called Dallas. I was a huge addict and had a crush on Pammy Ewing but also secretly loved Sue Ellen Ewing because she was a booze-addled victim repeatedly drawn back to the vodka. The producers of this series probably kept Dallas running for 2 or 3 sessions too long. The plot became more and more clichéd and in the end most people just stopped enjoying the program.
There is a danger when we stay involved in things in the same way for too long that we become hackneyed. The new ideas dry up and we rely on tried and tested formulas – we are not innovating; we are repeating. For a while now I have become concerned that I run the risk of becoming stale in my approach to what is needed for my current role. You have to know when its time to end the series. And this time has arrived for me. I was running the risk of becoming the Keith Richards of Learning. My reduction to a 4 day work week, experimenting with other parts of the business and taking on a Board position have all been explorations into what is next for my life adventure. And so I have said yes to a new role.
In all honesty I have no real clarity about what I have said yes to by taking on this new role. I suspect I am saying yes to further possibilities, different realities and new growth. But I am also saying goodbye to so much. What a tremendous adventure I have had in the last 6 years.
We have built some beautiful things, created something of real value for people and established relationships that matter with the business, our suppliers and across the learning community. Magical is a world that comes to mind. It has been a magical experience. When I stood on the stage last week telling 400 people about our work, what it did and how it has transformed everyone who encounters it, I was struck by the magnitude of good fortune I have had and power of this enchantment.
I am scared that I am walking away from something I can never capture again, but I refuse to believe that this kind of magic can’t happen everywhere and at anytime. I think I may be transitioning into the next phase of my heroic journey having been utterly transformed by all my experiences.
Back at university I read Fredrich Nietzsche s book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. I must admit I didn’t understand most of it – I don’t think my brain was ready for Nietzsche, but in recent times I have been reminded of his philosophy in relation to spiritual transformation towards a flourishing life. Nietzsche talks of three metamorphoses we undergo symbolically represented by the camel, the lion and the child.
At the start of life we are a camel – taking on a heavy load. Questing knowledge and experiences that can lead us into some dark corners of the world and our psyche. Eager to prove ourselves capable of finding truth, we seek out the heaviest and most burdensome insights and at times force ourselves to dwell on weight-bearing ideas as a sort of rite of passage. These weighty matters can cause the camel to become stuck. It is necessary for the camel to transform from ideas into action
And so the first transition is into a lion. A well loaded camel means a potent lion. And the job of the lion is to meet and destroy a dragon. The dragon is covered in scales and on each scale are the rules of society. “Thou Shalt…” glitters on every scale and the lion must engage in mortal combat. All the rules of life need to be attacked as we apply our will to the world and learn how we will flourish living with our own moral code whilst respecting the code of others. Once the dragon is destroyed the next phase is the innocent child.
A child-like spirt is vital to our happiness. Once the lion has conquered the rules and the dragon lies wasted on the ground, its time for new possibilities. Life moves into a celebration of perpetual creative ingenuity free from the ‘Thou Shalts’ of the herd. The child phase is about finding new realities. Now I don’t believe I have conquered my dragon and I suspect I am about to encounter a whole new set of ‘Thou Shalts” but I am certain of some things…
This work helped me find my voice. I have learned what matters to me, what I am good at, what I am not yet good at and what I will probably never get good at. And on the whole I am okay with this balance of good, bad and indifferent skills. I have discovered so many new things about me, about life, about others and about business. I can honestly say I have fallen in love with the man I am becoming. I know this for sure: I am a better version of me – by a country mile!
Thank you for this – it’s a gift of immeasurable value which I will treasure always.