For todays Daily prompt I get to go back in time to meet myself for a coffee (or a beer) to discuss the most rewarding, the most challenging things I have to look forward to.
Ten years ago I was recovering from my first major bout of depression. I had fought my way back to work and really didn’t know where my career was heading. I would want to give myself one piece of advice because that piece of advice has a major bearing on all three of the things listed above. The advice is very simple and something I would ask everyone to keep to the forefront of their minds as the travel through life.
Trust your instincts!
Sounds easy doesn’t it? Let me tell you a little of my tale. As I was returning to work after a bout of depression I was asked to take on a project introducing a competency framework into my workplace. This was an attempt to reduce every role in the organisation to a set of core competencies that people would be assessed against. Now to be fair it sounded pretty dull and I suspected I would meet a lot of resistance, especially at senior levels in the organisation. However my gut said this would be a good opportunity. I went for it. It was fairly dull, but it wasn’t overly challenging as I was already a qualified assessor for National Vocational Qualifications and this was essentially the same thing. The good thing was that I was largely left alone to get on with it, no deadlines, very little pressure.
After a year or so of fairly dull endeavour I was asked to take on a much larger but related project. I knew this was going to be more pressured and that I would now be supervising a project team. I knew it would be a challenge but it felt right so again I accepted. It meant 18 months of frantic hard work, but it was the most rewarding period of my whole career. I was able to surround myself with keen, eager, ‘can do’ people. I frequently had to work very long hours and I guess my health suffered a little but I enjoyed every single day. Over 18 months my team and I scoped, designed and brought into existence a training programme that would be undergone by every member of the organisation. The programme was nationally accredited by the UK government and the team won numerous national and local awards. I was then asked to manage the programme, again it felt right. I recruited and trained a new team to deliver the programme, again I was surrounded by keen, positive and willing staff. Every single day was a joy.
I was then asked to take on a new job, a promotion, more money, more responsibility and very exciting. The problem was I didn’t want to leave what I had built. The teams I was now being asked to lead ad a reputation for being negative and difficult. It felt wrong but I decided to go for it anyway. To be honest I put the money ahead of job satisfaction and I paid for it.
I was now surrounded by nasty, negative, underhand people and every day was a misery. I trusted people even when it felt wrong. I put my credibility on the line to protect people I knew deep down were not deserving of my support. In the end it broke me, ruined my health and took me into the darkest times of my life and eventually lead to early retirement through ill health. I am still recovering.
Those instincts also told me that music was my salvation and that it would lead to some of the happiest times of my life. My attendance at music festivals over the years has lead to my making a whole new circle of friends. Friends who caring, giving, generous and fun. People who expect nothing from you but your friendship, people that you instinctively know you can trust, who share your values and just want to have a good time. That piece of advice may be simple but it is rarely wrong. Trust your instincts, they rarely let you down.