What else can I contribute to the world?

Olaf Willoughby
Olaf Willoughby
min read
September 23, 2020
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Several years ago, I was lucky enough to start thinking about semi-retirement. So I asked myself - What do I want to do next?

As my poorly defined earlier dreams involving '24/7 golf' or 'owning a villa on a Greek island' failed the reality test, I realized I was asking the wrong question.

I should have started with, what is it that I can actually do?

More than simply listing my passions, skills and even careers, I needed to dive deep to define the single attribute which glued my life together.

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking back.

- Steve Jobs

A Journey Of Self Discovery

When I looked into my history, here's what I found;

  • Father was a professional musician & photographer, Mother a classical violinist
  • I played drums in a jazz group as a second job
  • After working in advertising I set up my own market research consultancy
  • Working with blue-chip clients in Joburg, Dusseldorf and New York
  • serving on the London Business School strategy review group
  • I always photographed and today that has developed into teaching in the UK & USA
  • I've exercised my whole life shifting from soccer to squash to running to yoga

So, what was the common link? What quality glued together drumming, the breath in exercise, analyzing large datasets and image composition?

My answer:

A sense of rhythm and flow that I identified as Pattern Recognition

Stretching the Giving Muscle

This instinctively felt right. I set out my intentions to continue learning, to lead a meaningful life in which I would help/influence others positively and live as sustainably as I could.

Some initiatives I started taking on:

  • I donate photography time to charities for nature & children's cancer
  • I donate funds to a charity for dogs

However, my involvement is sporadic and I would like to do more. Oddly I've checked with other charities (donkey sanctuary & food bank) but they already have a waiting list of volunteers.

So after my journey of self-assessment, I've reached a stumbling block. I want to work with smaller causes. The global charities have plenty of money and staff. I have the resources and time to help others but not the connections. So what can I do?

I stumbled upon the Co-x3 Family in the early parts of 2020, and I've found that there are so many opportunities to be helpful and learn from this community of co-creators and collaborators. It's been exciting to share my knowledge as a second winder, and start a dedicated squad exploring the art of creativity.

As an bonus, it's amazing having the opportunity to learn from younger members of the community. Knowledge today isn’t the same information that we learned at school, it is transmitted faster, with new tools and techniques and the vocabulary is constantly being refreshed with each generation.

Being able to work together with thousands of like-minded individuals to build a life management system has been a great joy, and I look forward to positively change the world together with my new family.

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