In October 2019 I listened to a chat led by an influential professor at the IE Madrid Business School – Dr Teresa Martin Retortillo. Her talk posed a powerful idea: purposeful transformation.
I was listening to it alongside members of the G50, a group of entrepreneurs and friends from Latin America and Spain. Our interest in the next stage in our live led us to select this particular talk (among other options on the agenda) that was just over an hour long.
A few questions came up at the time, and a few of these also appear on the websites of publications concerning this prestigious business school. Some of them include:
“You’ve worked for more than 20 years and you feel you need a change.”
“You feel you’ve been fortunate enough to fully leverage the opportunities you’ve been given and want to give back to your community and society in an impactful yet thoughtful manner.”
“You’ve spent years creating, nurturing and leaving business endeavours and companies and you’re now ready for another meaningful adventure in your life. That said, you value the time and company of equally ambitious individuals to structure your exploration and guide your next decision.”
After formally leaving behind my entrepreneurial stage of life by selling the last 25% of Havas Tribu on the 28th January, I now share the concerns of those who find themselves at a similar crossroads – there are plenty of us yearning for a change.
Throughout my passage of life, I chose an extremely unusual route to follow. I decided to shun a planned out trajectory; instead, I adopted a ‘come what may’ attitude, waiting for life to bring me its gifts, its present moments and the spectacular opportunities that accompany.
After all, the pandemic has revealed the power of the unexpected – the huge reach and effect that something we can’t see is capable of having.
Antoine de Saint Exupery was already aware of this when he said “what is essential is invisible to the eye” in the context of The Little Prince children’s book. The sentence appears in Chapter 21 when he talks about love and friendship, although the meaning is infinitely broader than that. “You can only see properly with your heart,” said the fox to the little prince.
Although it’s debatable and all of these concepts are relative, I am convinced that everything that is essential is invisible to the eye. In other words, it’s not the Artichoke lamp itself (the lamp designed in 1926 by Paul Henningsen especially for the Langelinie Pavillonen of Copenhagen in 1958) but rather the fact that this idea started out in the imagination and became a reality; it’s the sensitivity and creativity of its talented designer.
Everything that has ever lived started out first as an idea. Either we dream about it first or it doesn’t happen. For that reason, I’m convinced of the importance of living in a constant state of ideation – even if we lose our sight and disconnect from reality.
I remember laughing and having fun with my lovely son and daughter, Santiago and Adriana, when we came up with “tontidos” – a word that mixes the Spanish words “tonto” (silly) and “ido” (gone).
Spending our lives with our children, there are plenty of moments in which our imagination takes on a life of its own, beckoning forth ideas from the depths of our minds.
So long as we’re on a passage of self-discovery and self-exploration, we’ll be successful. However, either we dream it first or it doesn’t happen. Either we imagine it or it doesn’t occur. Either we give permission to the ‘nothing is impossible’ mind-set or we’ll always be clogged up and restricted by what’s physically there.
As such, it’s incredible to have entered into a new stage of life without a specific or timely plan. It’s worth noting that my possibilities have widened by exercising the art of letting go – that is to say, leaving something behind, closing a chapter and freeing oneself.
It’s a great feeling and I hope you get to experience it, since there’s nothing better than the warmth and happiness of freedom – the dimension that leads to transformative creativity, one which achieves something that hadn’t been achieved before.
The Artichoke lamp is handmade, so no robot or algorithm can reproduce it. Each leaf is placed delicately one at a time onto the lamp to create a sensual shower of light emanating from those petals. This is coupled with metal sheets carefully folded to achieve the desired effect. It’s an inspiration, and I imagine every stage of our lives to be like this, as we become aware of the opportunities offered to us each day.
At the talk in Madrid by Professor Martin Retortillo, I especially remember when she challenged my ideas about reinvention. In her elegant and firm tone, laced with conviction, she asked me “why do you want to start from zero?” and went on to explain the importance of counting on the sum of your experience, and what you’ve learned and accumulated. It’s not about tossing away everything you’ve lived through, but rather considering it to be another point scored in the match.
For that reason, in another article I talked about taking a break, feeling refreshed and starting again. I’m saying no to reinventing myself – my next step will be to take an experience and add it into my fountain of knowledge so that it can be relevant and meaningful for the next chapter. That step will bring me the opportunity to applaud and celebrate new achievements, resulting in simply feeling happier and more fulfilled.
That same Thursday 28th January in the evening, I was visited by a great friend and brother for life. After talking and catching each other up to speed (the pandemic prevented us from seeing each other physically) he suggested I take charge of a task for a cause he’ll very possibly end up leading.
I accepted immediately. Therefore, from that moment on, his cause became one of my own as well. Off the back of this decision, there will be the marvelous opportunity to make a difference in this country and for every one of the people that live here.
Life brought me its first gift on the same day that another chapter had closed. What could be better than that? I’m still amazed by the way everything falls into place in life – creating, illuminating and delivering new experiences. In this case, it concerns an enormous challenge that we’ll face together in a bid to transform and give back to Costa Rica – a country that has given so much to us over the years.
When the time is right, I’ll share with you the mission we’re undertaking. It will be one of collaboration and co-creation, and it’ll be colourful and conciliatory. It will mean a joint effort of construction, coordination, contribution, comprehension and community.
As such, we’ll need your mind and youhe r heart. Your help and your promise. Your ideas and your imagination. Your capacity to turn dreams into a reality. Because each one of us can do something good for the collective, remembering that what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Dream, think, do and celebrate. These are the four phases of the virtuous circle of creativity – the spark that’s vital for the fuse of innovation. This is how it’ll be.
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