Until we experience it, this I know: we all long for connectedness. Even if we don’t call the ache by that name.
“Got me thinking yesterday… and today… I have no short or long term vision,” I start out telling my Doctor friend. “Do you? What’s yours?”
“Yes of course I do,” the Doctor says as if it is so evident. And actually coming to think of it, the Doctor being the Doctor, evidently he has long term vision.
“Yes of course you do,” I beam back at him.
“Don’t worry about it as most people can’t see beyond their next meal,” the Doctor reassures me. “So as you don’t have vision you have to do it the hard way. My vision is to make sandwiches so I can support my family. My other skills are of no use to others anymore.”
“Which is living or surviving from meal to meal,” I think out loud. “I think your other skills are still relevant.”
The Doctor produces a plate with a filled bun on it and shows it to me in front of the webcam.
“But that’s it? Working to support your family? There s nothing more?” I question while eyeing up the filled bun with curiosity. “That looks pretty good. Interesting bun shape.”
“Plenty more,” the Doctor smiles putting the plate back down. “Look, every vision starts at the beginning.”
“Lots of filling dripping out,” I mutter as I vividly remember the filled bun he just showed me. “The beginning of nothing. Or realizing that something has to change.”
“No. Desire is the beginning. It has to be balanced so that it is achievable,” the Doctor corrects me. “Benefits and risks thought of. There must be risks involved or no gain. Wanting to be rich is not a desire.”
“I desire… to have financial freedom so I can relax with my children,” I go over the mantra I have learned with Deepak Chopra and Louise Laffey. “Work will not make me rich.”
“No not that either,” the Doctor confirms what I suspected. “It’s just an empty dream.”
“Yes,” I nod. “I can just see problems.”
“Yes work will but there are tricks you need to know,” the Doctor tells me conspiratorially.
“Working my ass off all the time to make it to next month,” I sigh visibly annoyed.
“Then something is wrong or out of place,” the Doctor warns me. And that’s when I realize that what I just said about working my ass off the whole time used to be my old motto. I am now facing a much lighter work load and hence also a reduction in income.
“Heleen is coming back end of the year and I still don’t know how to make it work,” I tell him one of the aspects about my current business that worries me. “What’s wrong?”
“How you think most likely to hazard a guess,” the Doctor offers in guise of food for thought.
“Yes probably,” I mull over what he just said. I love the solutions I find by myself. It’s a great feeling when the Doctor gets me thinking and I then find new creative ways of doing things. “How do I think?”
“So make a change,” the Doctor urges me.
“Yes but what?” I ask him as this is one of the problems. “Like one concrete example.”
“You think naively,” the Doctor says gently.
“I do,” I nod but then I am perplexed again. “Like what?”
“Here is the formula,” the Doctor leans in closer to his computer screen. “First it all starts as a thought. This changes into an emotion and then moves on to become an action. People see your action and judge you on that action. So they make your reputation.”
“Still my reputation?” I cry out in desperation. “I thought first the feeling then the thought? Anyway what’s wrong with my reputation?”
“The trick here is to think, feel and act in a way that people see, believe and want to be a part of,” the Doctor tells me and he’s right. What do people want to be a part of? “This response of defensiveness is your stumbling block. What are you defending? Why defend? Just start acting like a success,”
“I am successful,” I say out loud trying on this mantra as if it were a new dress.
“Stop wasting your resources,” the Doctor instructs me further. “Find what people need. See if solving their need turns you on so it becomes a desire. Then solve the problem and think positive.”
The Doctor eyes me carefully as I am trying on my new “I am successfull” approach. He throws a curveball at me: “Really? Then why are you constantly complaining?”
“No that should be my mantra right?” I look at him avoiding to be shaken by his questioning. “I am successful. Come to me. I’ll solve your problems. Okay something like that.”
“Yes,” the Doctor nods. “It’s Elon Musk’s mantra.”
“Okay and he’s doing pretty good,” I smile happy to have a great example and role model to follow.
“Better you identify their struggles and offer a solution,” the Doctor corrects me.
“Oooh yes,” I twirl around happy with my new found confidence.
“If analytics is a job find a way to delegate it to others and manage them,” the Doctor gives me ideas for my business plan. “Don’t look for idiots to work for you. Look for winners who can challenge you.”
“Yes that’s what I am doing right now at BNP,” I think I understand where he wants to get. “I think I need to take a step up the ladder now. From working ant to a managerial position. Winner working ants.”
“Yes,” the Doctor nods content with my visible enthusiasm. “Those who see their role as a worker and not as a leader.”
“I’m successful and I’m a leader,” I add on this extra note to my mantra.
“Once this sandwich business is going I will look for good bakers and manage them,” the Doctor ponders out loud.
“Fantastic,” I cheer him on in turn.
“Everyone working for me must be better than me at their job,” the Doctor goes on laying the ground rules.
“Oooh yes yes yes,” I clap my hands in pure excitement.
“You should do the same,” the Doctor encourages me.
“This sounds good,” I am high with the great prospect of good things to come.
“Helen is a baby sitter,” the Doctor hits a sensitive note here. “Stop there. Advertise for a junior analyst.”
“Oh so I shouldn’t get her working on business again?” I am startled he said that and I clearly don’t agree. “She is pretty good you know.”
“Spend an hour a day reading about your subject,” the Doctor tells me. “Learn everyday.”
“About analytics,” I go on. “Okay.”
“If she is then get her organized and disciplined,” the Doctor makes sure I understand all the consequences. “Don’t make the same mistake again.”
“Which mistake?” I ask as he has lost me again.
“Keep up to date. Read about allied subjects that you can add as a service,” the Doctor has a stern look on his face. “The last moron you employed, that cost you lots.”
“Yes Naomi really damaged a lot,” I acquiese.
“Have Helen trained properly,” the Doctor tells me. “You find clients and put her on site. Use the au-pair to look after the children. Helen must earn enough to pay her salary and the au-pair’s salary and and and.”
“That’s what scares me,” I point out the stumble blocks immediately. “I’m not sure. There you see, doubt again.”
“Yes,” the Doctor nods. “But you doubt your ability. Read management books.”
“I must stop doubting,” I repeat like the next best idiot. “Read books. I am successful.”
“I have to write training courses on self-development for my conversation club,” the Doctor changes the subject again.
“Hmmm what about my desire to travel the world?” I want to know. All work and no play doesn’t sound very appealing. “And to be filthy rich? Oooh wonderful.”
“Actually you are not yet successful,” the Doctor ruins my mantra in an instant.
“You’re a great trainer,” I ignore his last statement. “I am successful.”
“Thanks,” the Doctor smiles politely. “No nearly but not yet. You are just more than half way.”
“What’s the next step?” I ask eagerly.
“Desire in a purer form, get the resources you need and then do a fantastic job of it,” the Doctor tells me all his mystical stuff. It sounds wonderful like a great theory you read in one of those self-help books, but you just can’t apply in real life. “There is always a better way. Find it and you will succeed. It just takes time. Travel etc is just a by product.”
“Oh pity,” I sulk as travel is one of my main motivators. “Will try.”
“Don’t try,” the Doctor snaps at me. “That’s a non committal emotion destined to fail. Just do it.”
“I’m going to do it,” I say as I muster up all my determination.
“You remember the story if at first you don’t succeed try again?” the Doctor repeats like the writing on the wall in a toilet cubicle.
“Leaders are readers,” I tell him what I am instantly researching online whilst we are still chatting. “We get what we look for. We get what we ask for. Hope I’m asking the right questions.”
“Redefine your desires into real things,” the Doctor tells me. “Tangible things. One step at a time. You want management or Google. Make yourself better than they are.”
Right at that moment I get a phone call on my mobile. The sound of the phone makes me jump and end the Skype call in a rush. After my call I just sit at my desk for an undefined period of time, just staring out numbly in front of me. I miss several attempts of the Doctor trying to call me back via Skype.
Finally I move from my daze and call him back. My eyes are still glazed over and all desire has left my body and being.
“Ooh you tried to call me…?” I ask him meekly. “I didn’t get the job at Google. They just called me. I didn’t make it. Bugger. It’s been that kind of day.”
“New opportunities will come along,” the Doctor says light heartedly.
“Yeah right,” I sigh lustlessly. “Strange day today. The cards for Winston’s communion arrived and they had an error so I had to re-order. Then just after that the restaurant for Sunday called and cancelled. Like on the day of his communion. Called all restaurants in Keerbergen. The most expensive one managed to fit me in. Shitty day. But it’s okay. Hope nothing else pops up today. I successfully failed Google. Successfully failed the video training. I am successful.”
All of my work and all that I do comes from research and study and my own life experiences, what I have lived and been told. There is much I know about being on this planet as a woman. And there is much I don’t.
From a place of not-knowing-better, I have said things that were hurtful. I have made choices that weren’t the best ones. I hate that. But here is the thing, close connection to the people around me requires me to show up as I am, flawed and messy and brilliant and reckless and mouthy. And when I fuck up — which I have and which I will again — I commit to cleaning up my messes, learning, and doing better. I listen to my real friends.