This is the last day of Veronica Pullen’s Authentic Visibility Challenge! Still a way to go with the Sark eMedia 30-day blogging challenge, but I’m here and that’s good because as I mentioned right at the beginning of these challenges, when I made the decision to be self-employed I learned something very important about myself that has had a massive impact on how I work.
And this post takes its inspiration from the first song I heard on the radio this morning, namely the Irene Cara classic, 'What A Feeling' from the cult movie 'Flashdance'.
Because I was reminded about the number of excuses I hear from people about why they can’t do what they want to, and sometimes it makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and scream. Please be assured however that I will never scream at you ...
If you knew that success was guaranteed, if you knew that you had the support of your family and friends, if you knew how much happier, healthier and relaxed you would feel if you just had the courage to take the plunge to create your ideal life, what would you be doing right now?
And before you tell me you’re too old, or under-qualified, or you don’t have enough money – well that’s just the story that you’re telling yourself to justify not taking personal responsibility. That is a sign of low EQ, and I know that you are so much better than that.
In 2009 I began a job which, although I didn’t know it at the time, would be my last for which I received a monthly salary. What I did know however was that the contract would likely only last two or three years, and doing a bit of research and forward planning, concluded that any future position I wanted would require a university degree.
Ho Hum. There was nothing for it, and thank heavens for the Open University (OU), because they accepted my application to do an MBA based upon my work experience, and the fact that I had proved my capacity to study by completing a year-long Certificate in Management.
I would get to work early and stay late in order to learn because it was easier for me to study in my office than it was at home (too many distractions). And by the way, anyone considering study with the OU, just go for it. I loved the way that the studies were structured because I could apply what I was learning from the OU to my work, and vice versa.
During 2009 and 2010 I considered my options and decided that I would focus on jobs in the European Union. Laugh out loud! The summer of 2011 changed everything. First of all, I was informed that my contract would be terminated in October of that year which I was kind of expecting but had hoped that I might be able to wing it until Christmas.
And one month before I was due to graduate having successfully completed my MBA studies, the EU changed its recruitment policies in such a way that as far as they were concerned, I had zero years of work experience.
I had just spent four months closing offices and managing the ‘out-processing’ of my team (but of course they were so brilliant that the majority of them found new jobs very quickly) and I was tired.
Time to regroup and rethink.
What I knew:
I loved to work with multi-national teams, and I was good at managing them.
I loved to travel and learn about different cultures.
I had loved all my jobs but no longer wanted the uncertainty that went with working with international organizations.
What I learned about myself, and this was the game-changer for my future:
I have commitment issues.
I’m not talking about commitment issues in the way that you grow friendships and relationships.
My commitment issues have to do with work that is repetitive or becomes too routine.I get bored, and when I get bored, things begin to go wrong.
And without going through the whole psychology thing, I blame school (given a chance I would probably blame school for everything). As Brené Brown says, ‘blame is the discharging of discomfort and anger’ – yep, that just about sums up school for me.
Friends kept sending me vacancy notices for various international organizations but I wasn’t interested.
At the age of 46 I decided to start my own business, to help others in the international environment, and to help them to develop their emotional intelligence, so that they and their teams worked in harmony.
EU or Not EU?
My parents had already retired to the cottage where my Grandmother had been born in the hills of Upper Austria, and because of my ties with the country and the fact that there were already murmurings of a UK referendum on EU membership, I began the process of establishing a company as a sole trader there.
It took a while. The Austrian authorities didn’t want to acknowledge my MBA or work experience, both of which would count to the licence I needed to be allowed to work. Success was achieved however with much perseverance and less and less diplomatic letters to those concerned.
Then they didn’t accept any of the company names I proposed. My exasperation was such that I made up my mind that my company would be given the name of the next positive words I read – which happened to be contained in an astrology forecast by the late Jonathan Cainer where he talked about the feel good factor.
Feelgood Coaching and Consulting was born! And three and a half years later I’m still here.
But if you're already telling yourself I must have had good contacts, or good luck, you would be wrong.
I’m not academically brilliant, I’m not amazingly rich, and I’m not particularly young (although my heart is that of a 23-year old).
I have learned to take personal responsibility and to recognize when I’m making excuses. I started to make excuses for not working this weekend because the weather has been stunning and I wanted to spend time in the garden.
And then I realised I didn’t have to justify my decision, rather I acknowledged that I was choosing to enjoy the sunshine instead of writing a blog. And that’s absolutely fine. The only person I have to answer to is me.
If I miss an opportunity, it’s my own fault. If I miss my monthly financial target it’s my fault. If I’m late for an appointment, regardless of traffic, it’s my own fault.
My learning hasn’t stopped, and my business continues to evolve because I’m constantly refining my services to provide what I know I can do best. Although at first it seemed counter-intuitive I’m also constantly reducing the scope of my services because I want to love every minute of every day, doing what I love to do.
Hand on heart, I am happier now than ever before, and it’s because I’ve stopped the negative chat about ‘weaknesses’, about being useless at Excel spreadsheets and playing the violin, and worrying about what others are saying about me.
As long as I do the best that I can for my clients, as long as I know I am being true to ME, and as long as I know that my life is based upon MY choices, the only person’s judgement of me that matters is my own.
OK, so here’s the ‘gushy’ bit because I want you to understand that there are no laws to prevent you from reaching for the stars, and that the only person holding you back is you!!
Make today the day that you stop making excuses. Make today the day that you understand that YOU can be anything that YOU want to be. Make today the day that you acknowledge the fabulous potential that lies inside of YOU, even if it’s buried so deep that you’re not sure where to find it. Make today the day that YOU become visible, the authentic, the precious, the inspiring, the most awesome being that you can be.
Even though I made myself ill playing the violin, music continues to fill my soul, from the moment I wake up in the morning until I fall asleep.
It therefore only seems appropriate to finish the Veronica Pullen ‘authentic visibility challenge’ with the words of 'What a Feeling' from Irene Cara, the song that had me dancing around the bathroom this morning. It doesn’t matter if you’re too young to remember the film ‘Flashdance’, look it up on YouTube; no excuses!
“First when there's nothing But a slow glowing dream That your fear seems to hide Deep inside your mind
All alone, I have cried Silent tears full of pride In a world made of steel Made of stone
Well, I hear the music Close my eyes, feel the rhythm Wrap around, take a hold of my heart
What a feeling Being's believing I can have it all Now I'm dancing for my life
Take your passion And make it happen Pictures come alive You can dance right through your life”