In this series, we will explore some of the 50 golden nuggets our super star colleagues did share with us during the Power to Pivot event. Why? We want to illustrate how big the difference is between “contemplation” and “action”. In other words, the difference between “I hear carelessly a sound of wisdom from an article, a podcast, a live show, like a verse of music, and I stay slumped in the stands of life, thinking about it like a good thing for 30 seconds max and then zapping to another program!” and “I listen carefully to a word of wisdom, I throw my digital device away and I jump in the field of life, IN ACTION MODE, to transform it, concretely, purposefully and impactfully, by crash testing what this very piece of advice could truly mean for me.” So what I intend to do here is to take each of these 50 suggestions and crash test them with my personal stuff to lead by example. Ready to fly?
Golden Nugget #01 (thanks, @Dean!): when it is time (to pivot), what voice(s) are you listening to?
My mum used to tell me twenty times a day “Réfléchir avant d’agir” (excuse my French!) [Think before you act]. Considering I was so full of energy, so alive, so … that she couldn’t handle it. She was trying to slow me down. During my entire teenage years, I did all I could to escape as much as possible from anything she would tell me. So I tried to do the exact opposite. Acting before thinking, mainly based on my emotions, my intuitions, my passions. This sounded like a nirvana to me! Since my brain was operating at normal speed, I was then post rationalizing quickly so that I could give a ton of reasons to bring evidence I was right. My father, who was the man of my life at that time, was not talking a lot, but I knew how much he loved me, so did my mother by the way, and I knew he would back me up not matter what. Not to contradict my mother but because for him youth had to be done. So, I played it fully, all in, and all out. And I can only be so grateful that I could live such a beautiful period in my life, thanks to my parents!
Despite my independence and my persistence to think and act outside the box, listening to my mother and observing my father, and unconsciously trying to please them both, I followed their recommandation to a certain extend and developed a belief of how important thinking before acting was, and I started to think more and more… I became a funny mixture of contemplation & action… and procrastination & inaction (!), with a demonstrated capability to think sharp and fast, to make complex simple, to sense & adjust very efficiently… as well as… a demonstrated capability to overthink, to make simple complex, to run into circles & freeze for far too long… ahahah, what a mess!
I became a civil engineer in the footstep of my father, graduated with the highest honors, but I escaped the physical and concrete construction world, to start a career in an American consultancy firm. I was not trying to enter the hall of fame, I was simply trying to do good and naively thought that consulting was essentially about providing top quality intellectual services, and I loved the idea and the fact to be serving, to be at the service of others. Four years later, I quit, completely revolted by the values effectively driving the strategy, the business model, the commercial and the project management practices of this big 4, and any big 4!
I decided to become an independent consultant, creating a company called “le Coeur a l’ouvrage” (excuse my French again!) [The Heart at work]. Four years and a lot of success down the road, I decide to stop my activity, to buy a house, to enjoy life, and to see if a bed and breakfast could be a great and sustainable next for me. Serving people coming to my/our house, that looked amazing!
My father was living in Saudi Arabia and I would usually see him a couple of days a year, in summer time. He came to my house in 2009, and I was so proud to show him my achievements… An old farm I fully renovated, a partner I was in love with, our first beautiful baby, and the international consultancy contracts I was doing every now and then to sustain our simple yet fantastic way of living. We had a long moment in the garden this day of August 2009, and I almost collapse when I heard him say out of the blue “you’re a dreamer, Seb”. I felt so offended, on the one hand because I was very susceptible when it came to my family at that time, on the other hand because I had the impression it was the first time he was telling me something which sounded like a reproach. In fact, he was totally right. I was a dreamer, and I am a dreamer still. And he was a dreamer too. Despite all the seriousness he was trying to wear in many occasions. His sense of humor was sharp and very vivid and you could easily see it in his eyes.
For the 6 years afterwards, I asked myself many times if I was not holding myself back because of this double injunction from my parents “think before you act” and “you are a dreamer”. And many times, my heart, my brain, my soul, were shouting and crying I had to stop this infernal circle and finally be persistent in doing something I enjoyed 200%, and which was perfectly aligned with my values, with my identity, with my dreams. But I resisted. I was listening to my parents’ voice. I was a child disguised in adult’s cloths.
My father died on October 7th 2015. I was 37. I was thriving at work, just had a third beautiful child and first daughter with my partner the year before. I was wealthy, I was fit, I was enjoying great times at home with friends and family. I didn’t imagine a single second how this very event would simply destroy my internal balance and trigger a chain reaction which simply get me to turn my life upside down. I didn’t realize at that time how much I was living a life full of thoughts, full of reasons, full of restraint, and so far away from the actions I wanted to take, deep inside, full of resistance not to dive big time into my dream world… And all of a sudden, I realized it. I realized the only voice I should be listening to was MY inner voice. And my inner voice was urging me to make a big step out of the loop I did live in and comply to, to draw my own identity, my own path, my own life!
Five years later, I’m doing my dream job. I’m surrounded by my four adorable children I spend just the right time with. To be full of their energy and to give them all I can and not to be drained by this huge pipeline of aliveness and craziness and to allocate sufficient time to my professional activities! You can resist. You can remain deaf, silent, to what your inner voice tells you. It might stop bothering you, momentarily. But it won’t stop for ever. At any occasion it will come back to knock at your door, and to do a sanity check. If you dare to listen to it, all it takes after that is just to follow what it tells you. And face the consequences. It is a matter of integrity. It is a matter of congruence. It is simply a matter of being alive or pretending to be and faking, fooling, yourself, and others. It takes a lot of courage to listen to yourself and to act accordingly, irrespective of the others’ music. Better that anyone else, you know what is damned important for you! If you shine, they will shine. If you don’t, what is the chance you won’t develop regrets, resentments and, before you realize it, you will make them responsible for your own irresponsibility and failures. And your relationships will deteriorate.
So, here is a very simple exercise for you. Sit down comfortably. Take a pen and a white sheet of paper. Remain silent and ask your inner self, deep inside, what you truly wish, what you truly dream of. Let it go, let it be, right without thinking. And see where and how your inner power wishes to reorient your business and your life trajectory. If you dare to, please share the outcome in the comments section. By doing so, you start to send your message to the universe, which will for sure respond to help you getting where you want to go, and ultimately where you want to be.
To your success and fulfilment my dear colleagues, friends and family!