“When you buy more, you spend less” said a hawk-eyed shopkeeper, standing a bit too close as I wandered around his leather store.
It was my first day in Fes, an ancient city with a bustling market and this was the fifth time I’d heard this phrase in an hour.
I loved Fes. The market was buzzing with noise, smells and textures. There were ancient walls crumbling, camel’s heads hanging in unrefrigerated butchers and caged hens waiting for their fate. There were sounds of prayer and the hollering of tea vendors.
It was like a discotheque for the senses – but it was also like trying to dance with a straight jacket on.
No matter how polite or assertive I was, I couldn’t seem to wander around these stalls at my own pace. I felt pressurised to ‘buy’; approached constantly by opportunistic locals spotting the ‘tourist with money’.
I did have empathy. As a self-employed woman, I respected their entrepreneurial efforts and determination – but I also felt that they had it so wrong.
The more they pressurised, the more I resisted.
And – it occurred to me on my return home that this conundrum is the fate of all self employed – whether in Morocco, New York or London.
I am lucky – If I don’t make money – I’m unlikely to end up destitute.
On a deeper level, our pressure to sell is about being successful – a core drive to our identify. When people ask me ‘what are you doing now?’ In the times when I was struggling in my career, I felt a sense of shame. I felt I needed to impress, try harder and push to make things happen.
And that’s the dilemma. As I experienced in Morocco – pressure creates stress and stress creates resistance.
We feel emotionally ravaged – and that is the last thing that will boost our creativity, joy or fulfillment.
But the good news is – it doesn’t need to be like that. There is another way.
Back in Morocco – there was a whole other side to that culture that won my heart.
One evening – I was wandering along the dark, narrow streets of the medina – and I heard some music. I wandered into a building and peeked into a room, where I saw a traditional Moroccan wedding, with a beautiful bride in a red, sparkling robe sitting in a white throne – being bobbed up and down to music by four men in red fez hats.
Someone spotted me at the doorway and ushered me to come in – and then I become one of the guests. Despite looking rather disheveled in my traveling gear, I was given a seat; handed a drink, offered cakes and was befriended immediately by a lovely group of glittering ladies who grabbed my hand and taught me a few Moroccan dance moves.
A man, with four proud daughters who tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I must come and stay at his home when I return to Morocco.
I was nearly in tears. This was the real Morocco – a culture, so steeped in kindness and generosity and so willing to treat me as a trusted friend so easily.
I will never forget how touching this was
And this value-led behaviour is what I know creates a deeper level of contentment in society. When our behaviour is guided by a what’s really important to our sense of well being, we begin to make better choices, we become more relaxed, loving people and we’re not ravaged by the pressure to meet an external measure of success.
So – it’s all very well talking in this high brow way. But in practical terms – how do we determine goals that are based on our values?
Well – to help you – I’d like to share with you a free gift for the beginning of this New Year: 2015 – It’s Time to Rock ‘N’ Roll
This gift is a series of questions to get you to come up with some goals that come from your heart this year.
It’s a process to help you clarify what feels important to you – and it’s intended that it well help you shape your direction so you feel more joy and fulfillment. And in my experience – this also leads to more success.
You can download it here: 2015 – It’s Time to Rock ‘N’ Roll
Please leave a comment below to let me know what you’d love to create this year.
It’s 2015 – I hope this year is the best one yet!