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Career Choices

It was 2002. Setting off in the early hours of the morning, I knew it was going to be a very, very long day. In fact, not one that I was particularly keen on.

Following a client visit in Dumbarton, I arrived in Campbeltown around lunchtime. However, the journey down along the A83 that day was absolutely stunning – Scotland at its very best!. I was there on a sales visit with a supplier, who was demonstrating a new CCTV system to a large new potential client. It was only 175 miles from home, but it had taken over 4 hours to get there. After another 4 hours of demonstration, it was time to turn around and head home. By this time, it had gone 6pm. There wasn’t much of a rush hour down there, in fact I decided that I would take a leisurely drive back home. I didn’t have any real haste. The lessons learned over those next few hours were unquestionably a pivotal point in my life.

As I started back up the A83, the sun started to set. My thoughts turned from the demonstration of the afternoon, to much more important questions – such as “What am I doing with my life?”, “I’m not in the least bit interested in CCTV – so why am I driving for hours on end selling this stuff anyway?” “Is this just all about the money?” As the light started to fade I pulled over to look over the sea towards Northern Ireland to view the onset of the night sky. It was a beautiful clear evening. As I was reflecting on all those questions and more, I witnessed several shooting stars as well as the Northern lights (for the first time), in all their majesty. As I gazed heavenward, it was a quite remarkable, inspiring light show. I stood for a while fascinated by the beauty of creation. Those few moments had a real impact upon me. I started for home determined to face the future with much more faith and to embark upon a career journey that would enable me to get up every day and really love what I was doing.

That career journey has taken lots of twists and turns over the ensuing 18 years. There have been numerous difficult decisions. Lots and lots of personal procrastination, other seemingly more important priorities, along with mega doubts & fears within myself that I could actually do something that I loved. The journey also included two redundancies, a challenging selection of opportunities in between, mixed with a real belief that I could eventually take the leap of faith, face the fear of the unknown and start on my own.

The differentiators?

A supportive family – who put up with me long enough and encouraged me to turn the dream into a reality. Supportive colleagues over many years, who helped me to understand the capabilities that I had been gifted with and developed over a long period of time. All of whom helped me develop my faith and take that step into the unknown. Thank you one and all.

“Smiles in the sunshine and tears in the rain
Still take me back where my memories remain
Flickering embers go higher and higher
As they carry me back to the Mull of Kintyre”

These are the words from the third verse of Paul McCartney’s – Wings #1 Hit record – The Mull of Kintyre. I have often reflected upon my journey that day and these words have always inspired me to reach for higher ideals, values and purpose in life. So, it is with all of us – don’t settle for the mundane – in fact never settle for it! It is important for each of us to have those meaningful conversations with ourselves and nearest and dearest about happiness and what makes each of us tick! If you are stuck in an unhappy career, perhaps its much more to do with your personal motivators. Now is not the time to revisit Herzberg’s Motivation theory – around incentives and hygiene factors – but I wish to encourage you to look deep inside yourself and question the reason and purpose of your work – is it meaningful – is it what you really want to do? Looking inward is the critical step, to face up to your fear. Now is the time for faith – not fear!

I love this quote from a wise leader Boyd K. Packer, he stated… “Faith, to be faith, must centre around something that is not known. Faith, to be faith, must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence. Faith, to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness.”

One of my favourite poems is by Christopher Logue.

Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
and he pushed,
and they flew.

As you consider your challenges at home, at school, or in the workplace – reflect upon those things that really matter most. Face up to your fears, look inside and take those first few steps into the darkness – you can do it!