Business magic from Spetses island, Greece

Business magic from Spetses island, Greece

One of my wise friends suggested me to quit on my addiction on social media. 

- What addiction are you talking about? was my nervous mumble. I am only addicted to sugar.

But then, Seth Godin’s article The Candy Diet - http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2017/01/the-candy-diet.html popped into my head. “The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury's Advise and Consent. Millions of people read this 690-page political novel. In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books.”

He was right, whether he is Seth Godin or my wise friend, social media is addictive when it comes to easy scrolling, reading, visualising. 

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” I learned it with my own brain, who suddenly could not process more complex information after being constantly drawn into easy cheese neural effort. 

So I made simple things like reading great and complicated again:) 

I have always found better business and life lessons in novels, be they classical or modern than in any self book. 

Why?

  • trying to decode the characters’s behaviour helped me understand more about mine and how I relate to others
  • sensing emotions between lines was by far the best lesson on emotional intelligence
  • making connections between a novel’s plot and my life’s was a never-ending discovery journey on decision making, authenticity, life coaching and leadership
  • imagining beyong author’s literary exposure was by far the best tool to feed my creativity, to pour new ideas and stay alert
  • the feeling of playing a sport versus watching it on TV or playing it on Wii (reading a novel versus a self book) is teaching you more about effort and reward, endurance and discipline, self discovery and self motivation

My obsession on reading fiction as a must have diet on being more creative turned my team members one-to-one discussions into tailored made book recommendations and follow-ups on their learnings. 

I was not alone in my conviction. One of the best trainings I attended was held by a group of British drama actors who were teaching leadership skills thorugh Shakespeare’s famous masterpiece. We learned about negotiation, public speaking, influencing and coaching through the lines of Julius Caesar’s play. Joseph L Badaracco Jr., Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School said: “Think of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. You could learn as much about leadership from that play as you would from reading any business book or academic journal.” 

But it is more than learning the hard way versus the dull way, it is the pleasure of finding meaning long after, connecting dots backwards and forwards, emboding characters that expand your ordinary life routine. 

Last night I was cheating on my social media candy diet with the excuse that I was scrolling for the good stuff. Somebody I admire has just peen posting about a new travel inspiration, the Hydra island, a place where many international artists, including Leonard Cohen found their inspiration.

I made a break from my captivating reading on a 4 long book series about friendship.This is when I recalled my business magic experience in another almost unknown island of Greece - Spetses.

I was on my first roadtrip in Greece and while reading about places and people, history and culture, I discovered that Spetses was the island where one of my favourite authors, John Fowles was living, teaching English and writting his famous novel The Magus. Most of the action is concentrated on the 50 square kilometers of a dreamlike, pine-forested landscape.

Fowles mentions about the island were: “a place so beautiful, quite and empty that it verged on the terrifying”.

I read The Magus when I was 20 and I read it like I often do with pieces that carry meaningful content - underlining whatever I considered relevant to think over, come back again, debate. I was so obssed with its mysterious and controversial story that I wanted to see its birthplace with my own eyes. 

- Who are you? is the obssesive repetitive question of The Magus, because nobody and nothing is as it seems. 

- Who are you? was - I suppose, cause she used Greek - the shouting of an old lady seeing me and my husband climbing the back yard hill of what we assumed was Villa Geacemia, the place were everything takes place in my favourite novel. 

Surprinsignly enough, none of the people of Spetses were aware of or interested in its literary significance. Nothing made any reference to the author or the book and when asked about guidance, the touristic information clerks shrugged off. 

It was the wavering answer of the bus driver who said that the Jasmin Villa might be the house on top of a hill next to Agia Paraskevi beach. There was no public entrance which made us think we were on the wrong path, it all looked like a private property that we were purposely violating. I remember wearing shorts and bruising my legs in thistles and bushes, all in the name of literature! I remember the dogs loud barking and the old greek lady shouting when I hardly made it to the top, trying to understand why there were sheets and pillows out on the terrace of a supposed museum place.

It is not an easy accesible island and the villa I prefer to believe it was the one from the The Magus is way worse. But the experience was more valuable to me than many other trips because:

  • when you are passionate about one thing, one place, one person, you will spread wings and threads to develop your passion, to learn more about it, to expand yourself into it
  • when you are searching for the evidence of your passion through the mystery of the unknown, the experience of the journey will leave better inspiration traces than the discovery itself; it may happen that the mystery will still float around - like in my case with the Villa - but your self surronding universe will get much larger
  • when you are looking for the red thread in your life and you suddenly understand that what you were reading in your 20s, what you were searching in you 30s and what you are writting about in your 40s are all chapters of the same story
  • when you believe in magic not as something falling into your lap, but rather as something bringing you more knowledge, understanding and a gritty attitude (more about Grit here - http://www.ralucakisescu.ro/grit-cuvantul-care-ne-va-invada-birourile-si-vietile) the magic will surrunder

Anyone interested to run?

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