I'm in a very different head space at the moment and I've got close friends at Kubatana– Bev & Amanda– to thank. This past month has been an amazing collaboration with them to try and get Freedom Fone onto the Unreasonable at Sea voyage next year. They have made a remarkable effort, and in response to their challenge I feel like parts of me have come alive again. It's been part business boot camp, part market research and a large chunk of personal reflection. Sprinkled throughout have been terrifying mock interviews - some with friends assembled to play roles or bear witness. On numerous occasions my colleague Tich & I fell short - either too stuck in the detail and distanced from our feelings, or unravelled by how much help we still need to revision Freedom Fone from charitable enterprise to social enterprise. But, wherever we did well we got great feedback.
Thanks to our preparation– and because Freedom Fone is actually a really cool tool– we made it through our first Skype interview and were invited to a final round of interviews about 10 days later. In between the interviews I thankfully had time to head out for my much anticipated 6 day break with family on a houseboat on Lake Kariba.
And then, the day before I left...I got my Round Two homework from Bev & Amanda. And with it went any notions of lazy days in the sun on the houseboat! To be honest, I could hardly have wished for a more beautiful setting to read, revise and review my life. It was really challenging because the bulk of the work required a hard look at Me. On reflection I realise it was nothing short of personal coaching and boy was I in need of it. In between work sessions I had a great time: wind surfing and swimming around the boat out in the centre of the giant lake (no crocs out there right?!); paddling the inflatable canoe with my sister in the early mornings after our meditation sessions; playing family games; game viewing trips at the end of the day on the little speed boat. Crocs, hippos, elephants and a wide variety of birds were plentiful. Here and there lovely sightings as we paddled close by: a terrapin or monitor lizard sliding into the water, a Jacana bird and her chick waterside.
And then home - 6 days gone in a flash. Work piled up, mock interview looming, homework not quite finished. Remember that feeling when you were at school? The morning before Round Two's mock interview I went swimming for an hour to get rid of the white noise that builds up around jittery nerves.
We kicked off, just the 4 of us, at 9am at a meeting room Bev & Amanda had hired at a lovely lodge in the suburbs for the occasion. When I read the first page of the day's agenda my heart lifted in relief and appreciation. It started:
"We're here to build confidence, inspiration and creativity - in all of us."
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
Of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days
To allow my living to open me
To make me less afraid
To loosen my heart
Until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance.
So that which came to me as seed
Goes to the next as blossom
And that which came to me as blossom,
Goes on as fruit.
~ Dawna Markova
How beautiful is that?
And then followed a remarkable day of creative and thought proving content that included Simon Silek's TED Talk– Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action, and the trailer to the Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry documentary, and contributions from wise, thoughtful friends. There was even amuse bouche and Star Trek thrown in...and yes, the de rigueur mock interview!
On the day of the final interview with the CEO of the Unreasonable Institute, Bev & Amanda made sure we had lunch, sent through some pics to make us chuckle and took us through a couple of short Skype interviews. Finally they brought in a friend who is an actress to take us through a vocal warm up routine. We jumped and yelled, shook our arms, brrrrrrrr'd our lips, stuck our tongues out at each other, repeated tricky tongue twisters and 15 minutes later collapsed laughing like drains to sip at the drinks they'd brought in to calm our nerves! What nerves? They'd all but disappeared.
Sadly, our coaches were not to triumph. The interview with Daniel Epstein was warm and convivial and went reasonably well - but if you're a business man you need to see more than passion and commitment. A couple of days later we received a very gentle and thoughtful rejection from him.
Still, thanks to all the work over the past month we're in a good place to put our heads down, reach out to friends in the business and Freedom Fone communities and see if we can, collectively, come up with a Business Plan and address the Sustainability Question.
So, who would have thought it - we didn't make it, but I feel more positive about life than I have in a long time. A big thank you to all the friends who worked on this opportunity with us.