The past 10 days of my life have been like an Almodovar movie. And yet as I sit here and try and type out my experiences, I am at a loss.
The humour that comes across when I tell the story of bad dates, investor ignorance, a private party with fur and leather clad drag fashionistas and the logistical nightmare of completing my only race this year is lost without the hand gestures and convulsive spitting.
But then again this is with hindsight and not how it felt throughout the process. In the midst of it all was anger and disappointment. In fact, the initial title of this blog was “A Lesson in Disappointment” but that was very much centred around my initial reaction to the events. Sort of like responding too quickly to an angry email; just don’t. Draft it, sleep on it, re-read it, re-write it, send it.
So here I am, not disappointed but feeling validated. A sense of validation that comes from conviction, commitment and experience.
The week began with yet another investor meeting.
Getting the right partners on board for my new venture (a socially aware for-profit lending institution in Ghana) is crucial – it is not just about the money but about strategic relationships. It has been a mixed sell, people love it or hate it, as is to be expected. Private investors look at it from both an economic and social returns perspective, institutional investors want me to tone down the social angle whereas social venture funds/DFIs want me to emphasise on the developmental impact angle.
This investor meeting was something else though. An astute businessman who has invested heavily on the continent, with an intact reputation and a wonderful demeanor, I was excited to get him on board. The meeting did not go as expected as I was summoned for an altogether different reason; to be offered a job at a competitor that was in operational trouble to help turn the venture around.
I left the meeting a little angry, reminding myself of a conversation I had with a friend almost ten years ago where he said that the most important thing in life is to “understand your intellectual responsibility”. I had left a job in London for a reason, to find purpose.
The week continued to build, ending on Sunday, when I competed in my first and only race of the year. A year I have taken off racing to build a new career.
The odds were against me: no training, cold (9 degC to be precise), poor sleep in the lead-up, you name what’s bad for racing and I was guaranteed to have done it. But none of that mattered as I had a decent race in the end and it all came down to experience. It wasn’t a PB swim, it wasn’t a PB bike and it wasn’t a PB run but overall, it was a PB.
As the week came to end an, the doubts that I had with racing after a year-long hiatus, my ability to sell my vision to others and the determination to stick to the path I voluntarily chose has become more clear.
I cannot give up my values and I must remain determined to see through my choices of 2012. Everything that fits around these choices, like training, was been put on pause with very little impact on my long-term aspirations.