Monday, September 27, 2010

The big picture

It's been almost a month since Nate and I got back from our desperately-needed vacation. While we were relaxing, we didn't pick up the phone. We didn't open our laptops. I ate a lot of steamed callaloo and drank bananas blended with rum. We got to see Toots and the Maytails live under full moon. It was relaxing, revitalizing and, best of all, it gave us focus.

A lot of things sifted into place while we were away. First was that our life in Liberia had gotten too hectic. Way too hectic. We hadn't had time for writing, collage, or even surfing--all things that really matter. I couldn't remember the last time I'd cooked a meal just for the two of us.

While we were away, both of us clearly identified a need to step back and prioritize. We still loved that we live in Liberia and are leading on some cool and creative projects, but we missed our freedom, especially the ability to craft our own schedule for work and play. It seemed, at least as far as the major start-up was concerned, that it was time to hand over the baby.

We focused on Tides because, as the new project in our lives, it demanded the most attention. It's a bar-with-food, so of course it does. Anyone who's gotten close to one of those projects will tell you that--and this is probably the exact phrase they'll use--"It's a lot of work." It is, first because of the sheer number of things, people and processes to manage, and second because the schedule is unrelenting.

It doesn't matter if you're on a call for your real job all afternoon or that you're down with malaria. If you don't call the vegetable supplier before 2:00 pm, you're not going to get your delivery on time and your prep won't be ready by opening time, effectively delaying food service for the whole night because you needed some personal time. That kind of unrelenting schedule--where you sometimes have to put the job first and yourself second--wasn't such a good thing over the long term.

Looking at the way things worked out, just less than a month back, I couldn't be happier or more full of gratitude for how gracefully we've been able to move through this management transition. I love beginning things and then handing them to the right people. It keeps my energy in the right place: conceptualizing, creating, building, moving things from ideas into reality and making something new. Being able to turn Tides from an abandoned, dilapidated rooftop to a popular cocktail bar that showcases Liberian and West African produce and where people feel like they can let loose....I'm proud of us.

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