Originally written in December 2009.
“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.” – Author Unknown
Since my arrival back to Calgary in 2009, I have been trying to figure out a way I could accelerate the transformation of our economy so it is fuelled by compassion rather than consumption. Knowing in my heart that this is exactly where I needed to be did nothing to lessen the pain caused by the struggle I faced attempting to fully commit.
The source of my struggle was that I was scared that a project of this magnitude would tie me to Canada indefinitely and that the global lifestyle I had become accustomed to would have to be put on hold. The freedom I had experienced by selling all my possessions in order to move to Barcelona to attend the IESE Business School felt like it would cease to exist if I decided to stay and build something here.
It wasn’t until I read the above quote on a Starbucks cup that I started to see the paradox that exists within commitment. But in reality it took one more trip overseas to 3 different countries to attend 3 different IESE friend’s weddings to really understand what it was saying.
During the trip I started to see how my adventures around the globe were somehow horizontal in nature. Although there was a newness to everything I did, it rarely touched the depths of my soul. Even Nigeria, a country that profoundly impacted my life, a country that I love; even living there and working for the Clinton Foundation couldn’t capture my imagination and unleash the burning and untapped passion and creativity inside of me. Everywhere I went I felt like the experience was just a horizontal scratching of the surface. Intellectually stimulating yes, but always left starving for more.
This got me to thinking. Perhaps where you are born is not an accident. Perhaps it’s where you can best experience the vertical depth and richness that life has to offer. Some of our most memorable protagonist’s journeys end up back where they started: Dorothy, the girl from “The Wizard of Oz” or Santiago, the shepherd from “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
Perhaps true joy springs from going deeper, not farther.
And so I took my clues from these musings and feelings and allowed my own “Wizard of Oz” type journey to lead me back to where I started, back home.
It hasn’t been easy letting go of a phase of life that took you places you had never been, but in the end it has turned out to be an amazing choice. I finally feel like I am experiencing a vertical adventure….delving deep into the depths of Canada….into my home.
My fears that life would become predictable have not been realized. Committing to transforming our economy in Calgary so it creates wealth, health, happiness and meaningful employment for ALL people has been a liberating and delightfully unpredictable journey of discovery; inspiration around every corner….. new parts of the plan continually revealed….books on what it means to be Canadian, what it means to be a woman….new and fascinating people met almost every day.
Making the commitment to Calgary….to Canada has finally freed my soul to be the best expression of itself. It has burst on the scene here and every day is a new adventure.
Having experienced my own “think global, act local” epiphany, I understand now that this commitment to Canada doesn’t mean an end to my global citizenship. The world desperately needs an example of a developed country with a compassion-fuelled economy. If this can be successfully achieved, it will create a positive ripple effect that reduces global poverty.
By trading in my horizontal, hare-like race and struggle through life for a chance to be a tortoise I am experiencing all of the vertical depth and richness that life has to offer.
I finally understand why it is the tortoise that wins in the end!