Tomorrow is our six month anniversary of moving to Nashville. In some ways it feels like we’re new here; and at other times, I feel like we’ve been here forever. There’s something about this city that makes me feel so… well, me.
I’ve been thinking about this new life a lot recently. Of course the change in geography stirs up questions like, “What business do we have being south of the Mason-Dixon Line?” Changing my career trajectory begs the question, “What exactly am I pouring my time into each day?” And all these, plus many more swirling thoughts, stir up the existential. Who am I?
But even with these dips and rises, I have to say: I feel like I belong more now than I ever have. For the most part, my current flow-state is how I felt at the peak of my life thus far, way back in Boston. And amazingly, I’ve reached this state just six months into a new Nashville life.
We just returned home from the UK, where I got to see some of my closest friends, who were by my side through a few tough years in London. It was relieving and enlightening to talk to them about what a positive difference location and career has made so quickly. Chatting with them helped me see what just wasn’t working for me as a business metaphor. It goes something like this…
I – like everyone – have a clear set of internal capabilities and core competencies. When I combine my strengths, skills, and technical abilities with how I do things: see the world, interact with people, and deliver results, you get my personal value proposition.
But if I think about it in a broader context, an entity’s (and dare I say a person’s) value is only as good as what the market will bear. For example, if you’re the world’s best downhill skier and you live in Hawaii, your value isn’t what it could be, in say… Colorado.
So what I’ve started to understand is: the way that I work… heck, the way that I live simply wasn’t advantageous for my situation in London.
At work, I like to do things well and deeply, stemming from a solid foundation. I contrast this to skimming the surface and ignoring glaring inefficiencies and weak infrastructure that will cripple a business in the long term. (If you’re one of my friends in the insurance industry with Lloyd’s experience, you can see how the way I build businesses is completely at odds with that market – thinking about it still makes the hairs on my arms stand up. Ah!).
Also, I like being creative in my work. While I wouldn’t declare my self an “artist” by any stretch of the imagination, I find creativity in applying ideas from different countries, perspectives, and industries to help a business and people stand out in their respective markets.
And lastly, I love building work relationships and friendships over runs, coffee, and nerdy conversations about intuition and meditation. I certainly don’t judge the pub life, but I am totally unskilled at it (and would rather be in bed as early as possible).
So after living in such starkly different cities, I’ve come to quickly understand that Nashville is the perfect antidote for me. It’s a city where my strengths play well with others. It’s sophisticated but acts like a small town, which means that my unreserved nature at work and home isn’t as weird as it was in Europe. I have work experience and international education that gives me differentiatiation. And as far as creativity goes… I estimate that the city has about 47,000 professional creatives, meaning: I’m in great company.
But perhaps most importantly and striking to me is that Nashville embraces people and thoughts that go beyond our human dimension. Yes, there’s the obvious Bible Belt stereotype, but it’s more. Remember this gorgeous mother and her son? I gotta tell you: they were not an anomaly. These people – ready to make eye contact, have important conversations, and act in accordance with their spirituality and connectedness are everywhere.
And for whatever lucky reason, these people have found value in me and pulled me right into the Nashville fold.
PS – One great example of Nashville pulling me into the fold was a recent profile by local organization Creative Soul Tribe. For this, I’m grateful, flattered, and proud. If you’re interested, I spoke with them about building a new life and career in Music City.