Turnul Nostru (Our Tower) – two lessons learnt from working for my community
Officially this project is meant to be an inspiration. A practical demonstration that “something good can be done about our city, by regular citizens”. After 5 years I know it has achieved some of that purpose. Just like for any idea, timing is key. I’ve learnt my lessons.
I’m not going to tell you the story of the project now. It’s spread over more than one year of continuous activity. It covers the most intense year of my life. I was a father for the first time and a manager running his company trough rough waters. It’s more intense than an article can contain.
But I will share 2 lessons.
That is the first time I understood what “No guts, no glory!” means.
I had liked this saying for a long time, but most of all appreciated the “glory” part.
If you’re a consumer of American media you’ve heard about “having the guts to …”. It means courage, ambition, perseverance right!? Nah, not really. Those are traits of the psyche. The guts I’m talking about are the intersection of feelings and body. Body as in stomach, intestines, all that wonderful stuff.
The project was scheduled to last about 6 months. It took about 14. I’ve seriously thought about giving up at least a dozen times. I’ve actively tried to give up a few times. I had great reasons to. But they told me I could do it. And I knew they were right. So I went on. They would have been right if they would have said the opposite also …
What I remember clearly is that every time I considered giving up, the mental process was preceded and accompanied by physical nausea. The feelings that drown you when you are contemplating throwing in the towel are all aiming to the gut. And you feel like curling into a ball. Or losing your lunch. That, my friend, is fear. Fear doesn’t punch you in the face. It can’t teach its lessons if you are unconscious.
The gut is also the place where hunger is born. Hunger is an extraordinary motivator. Both as a metaphor and otherwise.
Ever since then, I know to recognise this one specific way that my body is using to communicate to me.
A part of me is failure and failure is a part of me.
There are always people who will have the uncanny ability to highlight this. And in doing so they will be undeniably right.
I got called out for failing on my commitment to deliver on the promised date. I got called out for altering the scope of the project. It hurt so much.
Never-mind my own image of a community martyr that is all about overcoming his obstacles for the greater good. Never-mind everything I was giving without taking something in return. From a certain perspective I was (and am) simply bad.
Seeing only part of a whole sometimes takes great effort, sometimes the least. Always count on someone to be up for the task of isolating your identity from your good deeds. And if no-one seems to be doing it, then you don’t really matter all that much to the world around you, I guess. Which may be bliss, or it may be hell.
If you have any problem with recognising the part of you that sucks, regardless of what you’re gonna do about it, you are weaker for it. And this weakness will be exploited. Sometimes with the worst timing. Sometimes with the best lessons.
To everyone that contributed to this life episode I offer my sincere gratefulness. I’m lucky to have had you close, and for some of you to still do.
You can read more about the story of the project here.
So, what do you think about it!?