Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hello Hurricane, You're Not Enough

Hello Hurricane, You're not enough
Hello Hurricane, You can't silence my love
I've got doors and windows boarded up
All your dead end fury is not enough
You can't silence my love

Everything I have I count as loss
Everything I have is stripped away
But before I started building
I counted up these costs
Ain't nothing left for you to take away

- Taken from the song "Hello Hurricane" from the latest Switchfoot album of the same name

Over the twelve years that I've been listening to Switchfoot, my life has taken some very different paths. I've worked for not-for-profits, built houses in foreign countries and spent my summers working at camps with inner-city children. To someone looking at my life, it may seem a mystery that now I've ended up at one of the top MBA programs recruiting for corporate jobs.

With all this in mind, I find it ironic that one of my favourite Switchfoot songs is Company Car. As I drove back from the concert last night with a friend who also has a strong not-for-profit background, we discussed what it truly means to live a sold-out life, rather than being sell-outs. My cell phone ring for the past several years has been "we were meant to live for so much more... have we lost ourselves?"

What does it mean to live a life that is beyond myself? How do I get past the lure of company cars and Prada handbags to living a life that brings lasting value to the rest of the world? Without running down the resume list of things I'm involved with at Darden that go beyond myself, I'll say that I am still giving back to the community. But is that really what life's about? Doing what you need to for your career, and then doing some charity on the side?

I want my contribution to the world to be deeper than that. I'm not sure it means that I don't pursue my career as it is. But deep down, I'm hoping to eventually be able to use the skills and abilities and connections that I've developed to accomplish something bigger than mergers and acquisitions or growth strategies or operational efficiencies or branding. I've been talking to a few companies that show some promise with CSR, and hoping that as my career grows I will have more opportunities to contribute to companies in ways that do more to enhance the bottom line and allow them to contribute to the broader global community.

At the same time, I am challenged to hold loosely to the blessings, especially material ones, that I have been given. It's hard to figure out what a life "with nothing left to lose" looks like. Pondering these Switchfoot lyrics after being on Maximillian Strasse (the most expensive street in Europe - think Jimmy Choos, Prada, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, etc.) last week has definitely got me thinking. There was part of me that dreamed of Burberry handbags once I am finished school, but as I turned over the price tag on a scarf last week - 250 Euros - I realized that it's shallow and empty. I want my investments in life to be bigger than a brand name stamped on a, albeit high quality, handbag.

But there's a big range of materialism between pauper on the streets and obsessed with Jimmy Choo shoes. I'm trying to figure out where the best place is on the range and what it means to hold loosely to what I have.

Just some lighthearted thoughts for a Sunday afternoon. ;-)

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