I’ve been doing a lot of learning this year. A load of professional development and a big heap of personal development.
The year started with a sense of anticipation. A sense that there was everything at the same time as there was something missing. A feeling that a journey had come to an end, that I was at a bus stop, and that I was ready to move on. A sense that I was (finally) grounded, safe and happy and was looking for something else to invest in, something where I could put my skills, talents, enthusiasm, something new.
I wandered through the first couple of months of the year happily doing my thing but wondering what the next, additional thing was. The thing that I was ready to invest further in. The thing that I could put all the other things I had learnt into. The thing that I could use to consolidate and expand my skills and knowledge. That thing turned out to be coaching. Beautiful, life expanding, wonderful coaching.
Leading up to this, there have been a lot of changes in the last 5 years. The changes started with me leaving a world of organisations after 25 years. I had been one of those employees in organisations that walked out the door on a Friday night asking myself had I done enough, had I delivered enough, had I worked hard enough, had I earnt my money that week. I rose up the ranks, worked hard, been loyal, delivered what was expected, supported people and over the years did some good stuff but somehow had arrived at a point where there was no longer a neat fit. As I got more senior and had to get more political and play more games, I got less able to compromise myself and ignore the voice inside me which said “this is hard, this feels wrong, this feels compromising. This is bullshit”.
Once I moved away from organisations into the world of consultancy, I found my niche and I found my happy place. Once again, I could get paid for getting stuff done, without any of the other stuff getting in the way. I needed to understand politics enough to get the job done but not so much that I needed to get involved. I needed to form relationships for as long as it took to get the work done, but didn’t have to turn myself inside out working with systems, people or organisations that were a compromise to my integrity. And yes, I realise what a luxury that is. Being able to choose.
Five years on from setting up my own consultancy, I have been able to do some of the most interesting work. I have found a niche for answering research questions, helping people understand organisational issues, working with small businesses cut through the chaos and much more besides. As well as making a living, I’ve been able to make a life. I’ve got a healthy, supportive and loving relationship, I get to spend lots of time with my kids, I have the time and head space to do the work that I love and I have the greatest tribe. It’s a universe away from where I was 5 years ago where underneath the calm exterior, I was frantically paddling and wondering why I wasn’t ok. Truth is that I wasn’t ok because I was compromising too much of who I really was. I wasn’t ok because I was in a relationship that wasn’t working. I wasn’t ok because I was spending 50-60 hours a week in a place that was toxic and damaging. I wasn’t ok because I just wasn’t ok but I wasn’t able to say that because it was not ok, not to be ok.
These days, I spend some of my time using all of my experience, skills and insight to work with other people who, for a variety of reasons, do not feel ok. Through our coaching partnerships, they access their own solutions, come up with their own plans and they make their own stuff happen. They are wonderful, resourceful, wise, insightful and brilliant human beings and they do the most amazing things. They are all unique and they inspire me every single day.