I was sitting on the floor of the living room in my grandparents house. Looking up at my grandfather, I couldn’t help but think how different he was to my father.
He was telling a story of how he and my grandmother had travelled the world. How he had spent, on his own, some time on an island just off the coast of South Africa. I think it might have been Mauritius.
I remember him telling the story of how he and his sisters acted out parts of Shakespeare’s plays. He had always chosen to be the rogue. I am the proud owner of his Complete Works of Shakespeare and their notes that they made, in preparation for their performances always make me smile.
To me, my gramps was a great adventurer. A storyteller. A man with a sense of freedom about him.
It was around this time, that I realised that I shared a dream with him. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to live my life on my own terms. I wanted to join the circus, or the navy, or become a vagabond even.
I also realised that life or my idea of life, didn’t match up with my dreams. I thought of my father and how stable and stoic he was, and that I would in all likelihood be expected to live a life aligned with a more traditional approach.
When I left high school, I was given an ultimatum by my father. I believe at the time, he was doing what he knew best for me.
He gave me two options:
The first was going to a secretarial school. I imagine being his first daughter born in the early seventies, that he didn’t hold out much hope for me other than becoming a wife and mother.
The second option was getting myself a general job.
Let me be very clear. That being a wife and mother are two of the most important jobs in the world. My mother was the best wife and mother. I didn’t just love her deeply (I still do) but I respected her too. So, if I went down this path, I would have had enormous shoes to fill.
It just wasn’t for me. My mother knew that very well
Also, being a secretary is in my opinion, a job focused on being in the service of others. Supporting a person or people and assisting them in their endeavours is very noble work.
It just wasn’t for me.
With either of those two options, my aspirations of going to University were dashed. I was more sports inclined at high school, so when I received a university entrance I was overjoyed at knowing that my hard work, academically, had borne some fruit.
Taking up the second option, I set off to work. I remember so clearly the first paycheck that I received. It was like freedom had been handed to me on a plate!
I will admit though, had I received a formal higher education, perhaps that would have increased my earning potential at the time. Nevertheless I felt like I was calling the shots.
The truth though, was that I had some pretty lofty dreams. I kept them so far hidden from myself that the freedom I thought I had, wasn’t freedom at all. It was simply finding a comfort zone and a traditional way of life that allowed me to go with the flow.
This might all sound like a bit of a sorry story. In contrast and when I think back now, my father really did me the biggest favour.
It is not until recently that I have rediscovered those dreams, and am now fiercely in pursuit of them. Without having had option two given to me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I have enjoyed an incredibly successful career. It is undeniable to me that although it was a very traditional way of life, a 9 to 5, I gleaned such joy from all of my endeavours.
At one point, I was able to do some traveling. I can never underestimate the growth that I had experienced collaborating with some very clever and competent people. I never turned down an opportunity to learn and I loved stepping up to positions that allowed me to develop my own sense of value.
I learned an exceptional work ethic. I learned skills that I still use today on my own entrepreneurial journey. Everyone that I met in my previous career has had a positive impact on me in some way.
My old way of life, my 9 to 5, has set me up in the best way. It has given me the strength of self-belief and tenacity to now fervently pursue my dreams. While I had a fear of admitting my dreams so long ago, I now have them written all over my wall above my desk.
I can imagine having a discussion with my father about my own hopes and dreams way back when. Since they were (and are) so far from a traditional approach, he would likely have scoffed at them. Ok, maybe not scoffed, but he would have thought them ridiculous.
Similarly, though, it makes me think what hopes and dreams he might have had. I wonder if he too had them buried so deeply away that he was afraid to admit them.
The point is that when you accept your past and everything it taught you and admit your dreams – as crazy as those dreams might be, you are eventually able to pinpoint your purpose. Your “why”
My deep-seated values of freedom and adventure were nurtured by my grandfathers stories. They fanned the flames of what was already there.
My traditional career pursuits, despite being wonderful experiences never quite met those values. Some areas of my life and career, leading to where I am now, I might have glimpsed a sense of freedom and adventure, but deep inside I knew that there was a much bigger picture.
Every day now, I visualise and meditate on my goals. These goals are all aligned in achieving my top values of freedom and adventure.
Freedom and adventure look quite different from day-to-day. I might decide on working from a different location, or I might decide to work evenings instead of the mornings. I might even decide to swim or walk longer on certain days.
The fundamental characteristic though is that my day revolves around my freedom to choose how I spend that day. I admit that my dreams are all about freedom and adventure.
It was all that I ever really wanted.