My publishing house has reached a nice cruising altitude. I would like to take it to the next level. But I don’t know what that next step should look like. Because simply increasing the amount of books and losing control of the quality is not an option. So for the time being I’ve decided to expose myself to as many new ideas as possible.
‘Why on earth are we here?,’ Peirene sighs while we are heading into our next lecture. The Nymph and I are attending a business conference.
‘Because it’s good for us to listen to cool-headed, strategic, business people. We might get some inspiration,’ I tell her – not for the first time.
We sit down in the auditorium. Peirene demonstratively crosses her arms and closes her eyes even before the speech has started. ‘It worries me that a company dedicated to beautiful books should be taking an interest in “management”. Before we know it we will be run by accountants,’ she mumbles.
I decide to ignore her. Next up on stage is motivation coach David Pearl. He shows a clip from Chicken Run. I nudge the Nymph. ‘You should listen to him.’ She opens one eye. She is beginning to pay attention now.
David asks us to draw our life graph. The Nymph rolls her eyes and draws a circle. I draw a slightly ascending zigzag line indicative of up and downs.
David then asks ‘So if the x-axis shows the passing of time what does the y-axis represent?’
‘Happiness,’ someone suggests. ‘Professional achievement,’ someone else replies. ‘Self-actualisation,’ Peirene offers. I can sense that she is finally starting to enjoy the session.
No. None of us has hit the mark. The Y-axis indicates the ‘why’ – what motivates us personally, what gets us up again when we are low, what we love doing and often most naturally do best. Each one of us has a different Y or Why-axis – even if we do similar jobs. It might be the ability to help others, the passion to teach or the skill to overcome obstacles. Being aware of the Why-axis helps to figure out the next step.
But of course it isn’t easy to recognize your own ‘Why’.
Back in the hotel room, I am lying on the bed trying to find the answer to my own Why. Peirene, on the other hand, is using her bed as a trampoline, jumping up and down. Eventually I persuade her to stop. ‘It would be useful if you too can think about your Why, ‘ I remark.
‘No need.’ She stops jumping and sits down on her bed. ‘I know precisely what makes me get up every morning– compassion for you. And I am extremely good at it too.’ She smiles and hands me a little gift. I open it. It’s a massage oil. ‘I’ve booked you a massage,’ she explains. ‘I’m sure the Why will become apparent far more easily when you are relaxed.’
Image by CircaSassy.