“Aren’t you a bit pretentious?”

In 2009, we just moved from New Plymouth, New Zealand, to the biggest city of the country: Auckland. I worked in New Plymouth as an instructional designer for 18 months, before I decided to stop working in an office, to welcome my second daughter, Auxane.

I wanted to be with my baby this time; I didn’t do it for my first and regretted it.

I was able to work remotely for my former employer in France, with a 1-year fixed contract, baby on my knees or at the breast, with a wonderful view on the Tasman Sea.

No kidding, this was the view we enjoyed every day

Once settled in Auckland, I was having a hard time finding more freelance contracts. I exchanged a few emails with a French guy who had lived in New Zealand for a long time and moved back to France 10 years ago for the studies of his daughters. He was back in Kiwiland to see if he would like to move there again. I decided to meet him at my place, to benefit from his experience.

After I talked to him about my project to work from home, in English (my mother tongue is French), for different local and international clients, he told me: “Aren’t you a bit pretentious to claim you want to do this?

Here I am facing someone 1) who doesn’t know how good or bad my English is, 2) who knows nothing about my industry 3) who doesn’t know me at all, and, yet, shushes me down, putting a lid on my motivation and enthusiasm, instead of asking questions, encouraging me, or, at least, saying nothing.

Do you have people around you telling you:

  • Why do you want to do that? You have more than enough to live comfortably!
  • Why take unnecessary risks?
  • The Kingdom of God belongs to the poor (or: money doesn’t buy happiness, or: St. Francis of Assisi/Sister Teresa was poor and content)
  • So many people have so little to eat, aren’t you ashamed to always want more?
  • Why leave for a foreign country when you have the chance to be born in a rich country, where your family and friends are? Besides, you’ll have to start everything from scratch!
Why am I not aspiring to be poor, despite years at catechism?
Why am I not aspiring to be poor, despite years at catechism?

It took me a long time to realize that these words that were making me feel guilty and were full of criticism, were nothing but the reflection of people’s fears, or their inability to accomplish what they desire.

It took me years too (and I’m not completely done yet) to admit that not everybody was as ambitious as I was, not everybody was dreaming of the same things, or even wanting the same things.

Today, I still struggle to understand why people who work from 9 to 5 in an office, not liking it and complaining all the time about it, do (apparently) nothing to change their situation. It seems we have so many options nowadays, so much choice, that I don’t see how one can stay in an unsatisfactory status quo without taking action.

So when I decided to take a risk and leave (again) my last permanent job to renew with the joys of the freelancer’s stress, I wasn’t expecting to receive the support of my ex-colleagues, acquaintances or even friends: and that’s what happened. Few people support the idea of taking financial risks, especially when providing for two kids, in a new, foreign country. But having 2 or 3 friends supporting you was enough to keep the momentum!

For me, having two business accountability partners, two friends expert in “life lessons”, and a friend who can read my material and give me feedback without judging me, makes all the difference in the world. I can let go about the negative comments on one side, because I have another side to lean on.

Think about your future learners: what kind of support are you going to offer them when they will be following your online course? What can you do for them so that they feel helped, motivated and assisted? Are you going to send customized emails, create a Facebook group, have some phone or Skype meetings, a pairing system, or a little bit of everything?

As a learner, at school or in your professional life, what helped you most to learn? How can you reproduce this, in one way or another, in your learning program?

Leave me your comments below.

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