For some of us 24 hours in a day is not enough. For others, there is plenty of time to live two or even more lives in one. People’s capacity to live multiple-lives is astonishing. I once met a Pakistani guy working for the Brazilian Embassy in Islamabad who is also a semi-professional football player in his free time. Football can be quite a common passion. Recently, I came across a Head of a Primary School in New Zealand that was also amongst the country’s top official referees.
Besides football, music is a very common passion. How many of us have a colleague at work who sings in a band at weekends? Usually people who cannot make a living from professions that are not very well paid, such as arts, peruse parallel lives as a way of being financially sound and at the same time following their dreams.
Superheroes too long had double lives. The journalist Clark Kent becomes Superman to save the world, the scientist Bruce Banner becomes The Incredible Hulk to deal with high-stress situations and Bruce Wayne, a wealthy playboy turns into Batman to bring justice to the world. At first, it might look like all these superheroes had multiple personality disorder. However, if you consider that art imitates life, these superheroes double lives are just a mirror of our own human behaviour.
If you examine our lives deeper, we will find out that each and all of us have many different lives. Ok, maybe not as glamorous as the superheroes’. But just like them, we tend to hide our different lives according to the circles we are in. We are used to putting people in professional categories: he is a doctor, she is a lawyer, that other one is an engineer, and so on… it can be a challenge if you want to integrate all your parallel lives and present yourself as one Whole Person.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Kabir Sehgal argues you should have (at least) two careers. Not everyone will be as energetic as Sehgal and his four lives. Many of us, however, have (or would like to have) at least two lives. And that is on the top of the ones at home as wives/husbands, mothers/fathers, and daughters and sons!
In my case, the version of myself that I choose to give depends on whom I am with. Nonetheless, increasingly I am embracing all my lives and presenting myself as my Whole Self. I joke saying I was an engineer in a past life. Now I have “only” three lives. I am an international development and sustainability consultant, an academic and I co-run my parents property business.
When I caught-up in person with an old university friend who I was connected on Facebook and updated her on what I was up to, she said: “Oh, that is why I see some property advertisements so often on your Facebook timeline”. I realised then that I am not doing a good job at letting all my lives out in the open.
So when I set up my consultancy I deliberately chose to use the same name Ar & Terra as the property business and to use the same branding too. I am only one person, and all my lives are part of my Whole Self. It might seem strange at first. Even more, because Ar & Terra Group’s website also includes a Meditation tab. Well, I have to say “like mom like daughter” to that. My mother also has a double life. Besides being retired from the financial sector and responsible for running the day-to-day of the property business, she is following her passion and has embarked in a new career as meditation teacher at her 65 years of age.
Some marketing professionals turn their faces to joining such different businesses under one website. Leading edge advisers, however, accept that multiple lives are becoming more common now and we need to find a way to “twist” our marketing to serve our Whole Selves. In my case, I came up with the tag line: Three Businesses One Goal – Connecting people with themselves and the world around them. I then explain that besides being run by the same family, all these three areas of work are how we do “our bit” to make the world a better place. For me that is enough, at least for now.
What about you? Double life? Triple life? Is 24 hours a day not enough? How many versions of you are out there? If you’re like that primary school head I met in New Zealand with a double life as a top referee then contact us to discuss your journey and explore how to bring your Whole Self to your different lives.