On The Go is your innovation story inspired from elsewhere.
I’ve recently been asked if we had any plans to go back to a normal life. My husband and I decided a few years ago to leave fantastic Paris for nobody knows La Châtre. The Internet will tell you this tiny little town in the centre of France is the former hometown of George Sand, a French 19th century author, where she used to write to her lover, Frédéric Chopin. My husband and I embarked on a dream where he’d have his own responsible, eco-friendly, innovative business, and I’d be a writer. We as musicians have started a band. We have given birth to the loveliest daughter ever. The life we show her is full of creativity and engagement. The life we show her develops in the midst of nature, with its changing landscapes, its wildlife. The life we show her is full of questions. Do we have plans to go back to a normal life ?
Ever since we settled down in the region, we have seen the difficulties growing. With all the energy and creativity we put in it, our experimental life is going through the “trough of disillusionment”, as Gartner calls it. We are fighting most of the time on our own, holding on to our personal beliefs and faith. We as parents worry about the world we leave to future generations, we as a family worry about how we can sustain our current plans, some of our friends struggle with difficult financial situations, and we might be next on the list. We as citizens have seen the local medical care shortage for young children, the lack of budget, politics and their difficulties, the local “trough of disillusionment”. We as musicians keep meeting a variety of other bands and hear similar experiences. In all of our compositions and theirs, no matter the age and social background: the worries, the fears, the anger, the questions. Do we have plans to go back to a normal life ?
Before living in La Châtre, we were pretty “normal”. My husband and I both hold valuable degrees, and our career path are, I like to believe, the most of what we could fight for and deliver. Before living in La Châtre, we earned a decent amount of money, allowing us to have a nice apartment, flying all over the world, working over hours, showing the world day in day out how we were on top. The market shares, the visibility, the titles, the “global strategic plans”, the bonuses, we had it all. Before living in La Châtre, we were confident in everything we achieved. There was a system, we knew it by heart, we played it so well. Before living in La Châtre, we had dreams. Life was easy. Until truth hit us like a boomerang. A miscarriage took us down while both of our careers were at their momentum. The month following our loss, I started working like crazy on innovation projects. My husband endured his hardest management challenges and choices. We kept fighting until we both realized we simply could not go further. It was not the good fight. The financial crisis was closing all of our projects, life itself had said “no”. We ran towards a “yes”. We got married here, in La Châtre. Our ceremony exit song said “I can see clearly now the rain is gone”. Do we have plans to going back to a normal life ?
My husband and I sit down each and every evening after Lisa is gone to bed, and we count. Money left, time, efforts, struggles, fears, anger, questions. We discuss, we work together on the less and less possible plans not to go back. These plans are scarce, and they are difficult. Going back is easy. It is next door. There is a system, we know it well. I have tried to go back. I have seen what is it “not to be innovation” simply because one can’t afford it. I have seen employees crying. I have seen people cheating on product tests results to get precious references under market pressure. I have seen what it is not to be able to afford respect for people. I have heard business owners yelling at the bank because they were not granted the loans needed to sustain their activity, and save several tenths of jobs. I have seen schools classes being closed down because laid off parents had left the town. We know what is the local cost of family departures. Do we have plans to go back to a normal life ?
We are trying hard to live a “different life”. Focusing on essentials, delivering good to others, creating communities beyond social backgrounds and religious beliefs or disbeliefs. We are creative, we are ourselves. And it is by far the hardest thing we have ever done: being outside the norm, being outside “the system”. We know “normal” rules of game. We disagree with their unfairness. There is no “normal life” to us. It’s gone. In times of doubts and worries, it may come back and knock at our door, asking questions. Through the answers we keep repeating, we found worrying is the cost for caring for others, living in uncertainty, living in change. We know change is the new norm. If we can’t live with it, if we plan to go back, we are bound to fail, and worse, embark others in our fall.
Let’s not go back. Let’s learn from past and move towards a better future. We as a family have decided to challenge “normal” until it becomes respect for humans and earth, peace and freedom for all. Until then, we are change. We are innovation.