My career journey up to 2016 had been through finance, retail, data science, data storytelling, customer segmentation, and client services and when I quit my corporate role with nowhere to go I looked back and was left with a feeling of being ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. What was I going to do?
I was in a horrible place, unhappy and unfulfilled, but I didn’t have the self-confidence at the time to do anything about it. The pivotal moment was when I started working with a coach, a thinking partner, a person who’s your best champion and on your side. The relationship that we created pushed me to set aside the essential time to think and explore what it was that I really wanted to do, who I was and to find what really inspired me. One of the activities was to look back over my career and pull out the highlights of my “best bits” and then dig into what about these days/projects/events it was, that I loved being a part of.
FINDING MY PASSION
Looking back over my career, I started to highlight numerous mentoring roles for graduates and junior members of staff, the enjoyment of leading large teams and solving business challenges together. But in all of this exploring, what really stood out started way back in 2004 when I was part of a leadership program Justin King initiated to transform Sainsbury’s, we partnered with Lane 4 performance to develop the leadership team and embark on a significant change program. My official role at the time was a Finance Manager but having this opportunity to support this change program and witnessing the impact it had on the leaders inspired me. It made me realise that I hadn’t always been just an accountant, life is made up of multiple roles if you look from a different viewpoint you see things differently.
Throughout all of these events, I uncovered this wonderfully strong central theme to all of my best moments – the enjoyment and curiosity in understanding people and how they connect and grow. It was the people element that enabled me to keep connected and to listen to all the different perspectives and this is what I loved.
REWRITING MY STORY
All of these little snippets of joy that I was uncovering, like pieces of a jigsaw, allowed me to see a new picture emerging, coupled with an understanding of my personal values I was able to redefine my measure of success and what’s important to me. Rather than feeling like the ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’ I learned that fusing all of my different experiences together, is what has made me stronger and more resilient and gave me a greater breadth of understanding of the challenges that the working world and personal life throw at us.
We write our own future direction
and we are the ones that make it happen
During this journey from accountant to leadership professional, there have been moments of me worrying that I cannot make this change, but also of people telling me that it’s not possible for me to make this change. We write our own future direction and we are the ones that make it happen, the feedback we get along the way can either be taken as ‘fact’ and stops us in our paths or as an ‘opinion’ from a person with a different perspective and you move on. The low points in my journey have been a time when I could have given up and retreated, but I have learned to reflect, process, take responsibility for my actions and to make a choice about how to continue – what will be different going forward?
In the last 3 years, I have enjoyed the challenge of reinventing myself, learning new skills in a new industry, whilst remembering to stand on the solid foundation of my past experience – not trying to forget it. My story includes all the relevant bits from my career and how I have evolved, becoming a coach, the thinking partner to people on their own discovery journeys. I have come full circle, working as an associate for Lane 4 performance, with some amazing organisations such as The Met police delivering collaboration and unconscious bias programs. Finally, I am working with organisations on my own version of Reverse Mentoring programs where I connect leaders with individuals in their organisations to build new relationships, challenge perceptions and become more inclusive and I love it.
Finding my purpose/passion for leadership and helping today’s leaders excites me, I get to work with people & clients who share my values and excitement for making a difference. I am learning every day by listening to every bit of feedback with an open mind, however only I get to decide the impact it has on the next step of my journey.
MY TIPS FOR CREATING YOUR STORY
- Get yourself a coach to be your thinking partner.
- Make time to explore what it is that you really want to do, who you are, find what really inspires you and why.
- Look back over your career and ask yourself what you enjoy most and why.
- Remember the job role/title you have today is NOT who you are – give yourself permission to reinvent.
- What is your story and what bits will you build upon?