8 February 2012
Dear Work, otherwise known as Labour, Passion or Obsession
I remember years ago when I was a child, my mother buying a postcard with the phrase ‘Work is a Four Letter Word’ printed on it and taking it into her own place of work … I don’t know what response it got or if her boss ever saw it … and the whole ‘four letter word’ thing passed by my childish understanding until later life …
I started off my working life as a baby sitter, passed teenage Saturdays and holidays cleaning and shop assisting and after the high expectations of University, my first foray into the big, adult world of work was selling photocopiers. God – how I hated plodding round industrial estates asking for compliment slips, knocking on doors, getting rained on and rejected. And still I sold more than all the men who worked in the office with me … Though eventually I got ‘the sack’ for taking time off ‘sick’, because it made me so miserable … And that seemed to be the first in a long line of sabotage tactics that would get me out of ‘jail’ fast and supposedly free.
I have had jobs since then that have made me so miserable I that would groan as soon as I woke up, knowing what I had to face that day … horrible tasks and nasty people, sucking out my soul, all in the cause of work and pay. I stopped, started and moved around in my 20s, until I fixed on a ‘career’ in human resources and unwittingly became a manager – and that not even by choice. I was working at the time as a HR officer in a dark little office in a factory some where and thought I might just be there for ever. Then one day I got a call from a ‘head hunter’ and was chased and flattered into a situation where overnight I doubled my salary, status and stress and became a career girl.
Well dear friend, you changed your name from ‘work’ to ‘career’ and we had a real love / hate thing going didn’t we? I loved the sense of importance, the drama, the sparks I could create and the difference I made. I was the object of respect, lust and puzzlement on production lines and in offices. I adored the company cars and all the other trappings of corporate reward; including working lunches and trips abroad – even when most of my colleagues were men in grey suits. I loved dressing the part in my own smart little suits. And there is the camaraderie of work, I have always loved that and made some very close friends as a result.
I climbed higher and higher up the corporate ladder, yet hated taking other people’s flack and working insane hours with no thanks. Then there was being one boss’s favourite and another boss’s nemesis, and often I would start off as the favourite and some how end up as the nemesis – sabotage unconsciously ‘saving’ me and then pitching me back into a new lion’s mouth. And more and more I was the agent of the corporate machine, making people redundant and acting like an undercover police woman out to catch them in deceit and wrong doings. That made me miserable.
I wanted to make the change, but didn’t know to what. I just couldn’t think outside the treadmill, the responsibilities I had created in this life and any alternatives just seemed unfeasible. As the years passed I felt more and more jaded, burnt out, broken and incomplete and HAD to start my journey to the light, to living my truth, though I couldn’t see the direction and threw away several torches to it along the way.
So I went on courses to ‘fix’ me and spent time with people who nurtured me and who were walking a path I dared to dream to follow. Then I realised I wasn’t actually broken and that all this ‘stuff’ I was putting into me, would be an amazing gift to share …
And suddenly an opportunity came to me to combine my years in Human Resources and my coaching skills – my own unique life combination – to help 200 people facing redundancy find new work, change careers and face new futures. I felt passionate about supporting every single person in my care, even if it meant swimming across raging rivers to get them to where they wanted to be. Wow – career turned to passion!
Then came my own business, which sometimes succumbs to the name ‘obsession’. I lead, I coach, I train, I mentor, I make a difference to individuals and companies and all the time speaking my truth, doing it in the only way that I can. I am my own sum total, a fabulous confluence of skills and experiences that I pour into my life and the lives of others entrusted and entrusting to me. I love, I give, I challenge, I stretch, I support and I laugh. And I cry sometimes too …
This isn’t work, this is life and this is love. And you KNOW how much I love Love!
[PS: Dear Reader, if you liked this letter, you can buy your own copy of the complete book by following this link…]