At times we are asked to share some of our background with groups and we do that partly to reassure them that we’re human and therefore far from perfect and certainly don’t know everything, just like them. We feel it helps those we work with to recognise that we all have a past, full of ups and downs, random events, great times and challenging times and that we are continuously learning, whatever age we are. It seems to limit judgment and comparison and allow for greater engagement. We’re all doing the best we can after all, even if we’re not always effective.
It’s easy to forget or dismiss just how far we’ve all come at times and, reflecting on my life so far, I realise that, although I never really had a ‘grand plan’ and rarely any specific goals to work towards, I’m exactly where I’m supposed be and enjoying every moment.
It feels as though my life has been a series of false starts and unusual choices that were often made because I just wanted to do something different rather than having a particularly compelling reason to do them.
One shining example was deciding to become a trainee cabinet maker in the East End of London straight from school (equivalent of Year 12 in Australia), as I had become totally disenchanted with school and education in general. Bearing in mind that I’m female and it was the 70s … was it my best decision ever? Far from it! Yet I gained a lot of hands-on experience and learned more in that role and subsequent roles in the same antique furniture business over the next seven years than I think I would have learned in tertiary education at the time.
Future roles often resulted from being offered an opportunity and I took most of them because they seemed interesting and intriguing or just moved me on from where I felt stuck or bored at the time. In other words, the decision was made for me rather than by me.
Not realising it at the time, I now realise that I certainly took some risks and sometimes had to admit that I’d made the wrong choice yet at other times I discovered that I was far more capable than I had realised because I had decided to do things I’d never done before.
If all this sounds random that’s probably because it was, and I wouldn’t change a thing because it’s taught me so many valuable lessons. My life is much less random now and, while you could put that down to age and experience, I feel it’s more to do with the fact that I have come to recognise my purpose, my reason for being here. I have found something that I love to do, which challenges me and my approach daily, and requires me to not judge others, meet them where they are while encouraging them to recognise where they may be holding themselves back.
These days I’m happy to be somewhat planful and have a clearer vision about how I would like the future to be but, rather than forcing things to happen in the way that I would like them to, I now am more likely to go with the flow and allow opportunities to unfold while keeping my eye on the overall intention. I trust that what happens is for my greater good or that of others even though that may not be entirely clear or feel like that at the time!
I feel much more at peace since getting out of my own way and enjoy helping others to do the same, to find they truly want from life (without anyone else’s influence) and stay true to that. In other words, get clear about their ‘Why’, their purpose and have a broad plan to work with while also allowing the ‘How’ to unfold.
How might you be getting in your own way?