Many a quest starts with the protagonist seeking their fortune. They come from some lowly or forgotten place which holds few to no opportunities. Their desire is to set off from this little place to find something bigger, better and richer.
Sounds like me! I grew up in a small village in the middle of Zimbabwe. If you look at a map of the world and pinpoint where Marondera is, you would not be wrong in assuming it is the middle of nowhere!
Don’t get me wrong. Although this little town did not have traffic lights, exciting entertainment or options of interesting work it was surrounded by fertile farming land which gave us kids endless miles to scrabble through the bush, climb rocks and fish in the dams. Community life involved long standing friendships, playing games, putting on theatre productions and caring for each other in tough times.
The Quest Begins
At eighteen I set off for adventure across the ocean to the land of the free and home of the brave. The United States opened my eyes to possibilities. I discovered different ways of thinking and working. I started to see that I had options and choices. My quest had begun!
The driving force in my life has always been to make a difference. I want to contribute. I want to leave something behind that was better than before I was there. I began my working life with the mantra “It is better to give than to receive.” What this meant both in my mind and in reality is, “Expect your rewards to be anything other than monetary.”
I worked hard and I loved what I did. I worked in community development training rural leaders to become self-employed and to be empowered in various ways. I then worked in a spiritual setting and concentrated more on the inner work we need to do as people to grow, deal with pain and find happiness and fulfilment. It was immensely satisfying. None of it paid very well.
This did not make me bitter or resentful. It was nothing more than what I had anticipated. But I reached a turning point when the “giving” outstretched the “receiving”. I bankrupted myself of my energy, sense of purpose and almost financially because I did not see the merit in looking after myself. In other words I emptied myself to such an extent that had nothing left to give. I spent nearly two years in a state of burnout.
With the need to re-invent myself and get my life headed in a new and positive direction I went into business. I knew nothing about business and so started from ground zero. I am so grateful to the mentors who not only guided me but gave me a chance to prove myself.
What I realised about business is that you are paid not only according to the fluctuations of the economy but according to your value. I still needed to give. But this giving was in the form of something that was needed or wanted by someone who, in exchange, would pay a fair price.
A New Understanding of Money
This is where my relationship with money and my understanding of my value came into play. My image of my own self-worth and confidence in what I deserved needed work. I began to see that it was not about giving at my own expense. It was about offering something of such benefit to the other party I could justifiably ask top dollar.
Life is so much richer than money. I have gained so much from the kaleidescope of experiences I’ve had. My family including parents, siblings, husband, children, aunts, uncles and cousins have added immeasurably to the happiness and sense of rootedness I have. Africa is an incredibly beautiful place and my heart beats to the drum of this vast and diverse continent.
But this doesn’t mean that money doesn’t count. Riches can also be financial. We don’t have to sacrifice wealth in order to live good lives that are driven by the desire to serve.