From Above



Leaning In

Confucius say: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

No really. Confucius is attributed a lot of other humorous wisdoms (“Confucius say: man go bed itchy bum, wake up smelly finger”), but in this case, I think he is on the money.

I carry a lot of baggage with me hey. I try to leave it at the door, but despite my best efforts, I still carry around at least an overpacked day bag full of my own crap and pre-conceptions and paradigms. And, kind of like avoiding binging out at the buffet counter or going down a spiral of mindless Youtube, it’s a lifelong struggle to carry the bag, but to not let it weigh me down too much.

So no matter what the location, it’s always going to be your personal world. Good, bad,’s what you make of it. You choose to be there, so you should choose to find the joy in being there, right?

Let me expand.

I was lucky enough to go on my first international trip in 18 months last week, to Dubai. It was the regional EO conference, and I was invited in my role as regional expert for our Scaling Up training program, which facilitates rapid growth for early-stage entrepreneurs.

It is well documented that I like long walks in nature.

It is well known that no one really walks anywhere in Dubai. It is a concrete jungle devoid of proper pedestrian access between nodes. Still, I gave it a go, and my poor friend Nicola braved the 4.5km from our hotel to the mall in the midday heat.

It was a memorable experience, if not an altogether pleasant one. And we reflected on the pleasure of having Table Mountain in our back yard where we live.

I want to believe that we are defined by who we are, not the image we project. I am therefore most comfortable in shorts, I don’t really care much for brands or labels and I struggle with overt displays of wealth. While I like a beaut of a car or a person as much as the next bloke, I feel scarcity makes them both even more special when spotted.

In Dubai, at least where I was hanging out, excess was the name of the game. Lamborghinis, Chanel, Jimmy Choo and Gucci. Cruises, nightclubs. Magicians and electronic violinists, elaborate feather costumes, whole cities devoted to kid entertainment, cinemas that play on three screens at once, fountain shows that would put Vegas to shame, and let’s not forget that indoor ski slope.

It’s mind-blowingly awesome. And for about 48 hours there, I was swept along by everyone else in the madness of it all. If you’re going to do over-the-top, you might as well do it to the max hey. So I leaned in, and had a blast.

Wherever you go, that’s where you are.

Then I had enough. Then I came home.

To my dogs, my mountain, my wife and kids, my R135 sushi platter from the Spar.

It was an amazing instruction in the joy of travel. And an epic reminder that, as South Africans, we are truly blessed.

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