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  • Fabrice Desmarescaux

Life lessons

I turned sixty yesterday, at a nice ryokan in Karuizawa. Ideal place to do some reflection -- between hot baths and champagne... The most salient learning from 5 Dragon cycles is the following: Every decade has been better than the one preceding it.

My twenties were spent figuring out what to do in life, who to do it with, where to do it... Plenty of fun and growth (like living in Madrid or doing my MBA), but also plenty of angst and trying to prove things without any idea of who I was...

My thirties were all about achieving. Some great stuff -- welcoming my daughter, settling down in Asia, becoming a partner at McKinsey, discovering eastern spirituality. But still no clue about purpose, relationships, and ultimately who I am. Still a lot of angst about achieving and making money... Leaving a wake of hurt behind me at times. Life is more about status and pleasure than finding meaning.

Finally in my forties, ego started melting (just a tiny bit). Gave up the illusion of being a banker (not a good fit -- but it took me 15 years to realize it). Instead, I built an entirely new life in executive search helping leaders with their careers, and clients finding great leaders. Finally I truly love what I do. It's less about the status and more for the daily pleasure of meeting leaders and finding out what makes them great or mediocre. The journey has become more important than the destination. The personal life starts stabilizing too, slowly.

And in my fifties, I truly made choices out of conviction and passion, and certainly not for the power, status, or money. I left cushy but toxic exec search firm to build my own boutique, worked with friends, sold our firm to great partners. I shifted my focus toward counselling leaders and their teams. Found joy and meaning in taking clients on retreats. Published my first book. And eventually rejoined McKinsey in our leadership development practice Aberkyn. Ego has melted a little more (still a long way to go, I'm sure). I love what I do. Daughter is now almost 25. And I enjoy more and more being a family man, not something anyone would have used to describe me previously.

So I am entering my seventh decade with optimism, serenity, and gratitude. My priorities are clear: (1) family and friends, (2) health and spiritual practices, and (3) being a fantastic CEO counselor and coach (I wanted to say, the best in the region, but that's ego again)...

My deepest gratitude to everyone I have met on my journey -- for the nuggets of advice and wisdom I have gleaned from you here and there, for your patience with me, for giving me a chance to serve you, and for the fun and good times too.

Lots of love. ❤️ ❤️ 

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