I did three things today. 1) Sent boss/partner a 60-page slidedeck on systematic/management changes I want to bring to my current company. 2) Refused a powerful family friend's request to basically rewrite her son's personal statement to colleges abroad. 3) Told a well-connected Chinese friend straight up that I don't "chat" on weixin, only make appointments, confirm appointments, take care of time sensitive matters. If you want to have conversations on the topic of "do you find it meaningful to be in China right now?" Please, let's make an appointment for coffee.
Only in China. All this talk of "be the change you want to see," I'm doing it because China's is forcing me and because, this place doesn't owe us anything. That's right, anyone who comes to China and complains about China and how hopeless this place is, guess what, China doesn't owe you anything. If anything, China owes itself a lot, so instead of complaining, be the change, or don't and get out while you can. Because if you are just here to make money, instead of make meaning, in the end you will only lose your soul, your heart, and your basic happiness. So if you're a writer, write, write about specific things through your very specific lens. If you're a manager, manage, and create a better system at least within your internal organization if you can. If you're a filmmaker, film. If you are a lawyer, uh... well... fuck, good luck.
That is why I spent a good part of my month/weekends basically researching and preparing for this presentation. No, to be honest, I feel like my whole life I've been preparing for this. He will tell me that I'm idealistic, that things are just the way they are here, but I believe, I'll tell you what I believe, I believe bad management is bad management, in China, or anywhere. So I'll make my case, I'll make it until I bleed, and if it doesn't work out, I'll walk away from the money, and the power, and I'll go where I'm needed, because that is the only reason why I'm here: for the stories, and to contribute in some small, minute, and wild way.
If you don't have a ridiculous dream to guide you, then I don't know what you have. Money will come. Money, as long as you have enough of it, don't even matter that much. Dreams, friends, relationships, health, stories, integrity, principles, efficiency and being straightforward, these are what guide me these days.
I feel anchored finally by an internal compass made of moral integrity and an emotional instinct, and that is a good place to be.
One day I will leave this place, just like one day I will probably leave my next place, but I swear, before I die, I will treat everyone, every place, with the same regard. These smog days are either gonna make us suicidal, or we'll turn it into kickboxing anger. Anger tamed by direction is energy.
Thanks, you crazy place. Who would have thought it takes a China to make me want to get a MBA?
I get what my mentor Liz meant: I'm not busy, I'm only EXCITED.