Bill was working for a large company in Corporate Sales. He had reached a level that he was happy with and enjoyed what he did. Something was missing though, something that added greater purpose and satisfaction to what he did. Bill wanted to learn, he wanted to grow and develop and staying where he was was not going to do that for him.
One day, Bill was talking to Rob, a senior contact in one of his clients, and the conversation transitioned onto life satisfaction. Rob made a comment that he had taken a break from work and had completed an MBA at a local university. The sudden realisation of what this could do for Bill was huge. It felt like the right thing to do as it would enable the learning and the investigating into a bigger purpose.
On the way home, Bill decided that this was the route to follow. He would exit, and sign up for a fulltime MBA course. It just felt so right.
This story is not really a story about Bill, but about this normal guy called Simon – me. A guy that had a mortgage, a family at home, obligations, fears, phobias and a million reasons why not to do something.
What was so right was that the feeling of being lost had gone. The lost sensation was replaced with hope and joy as the new route was discovered and acted on. The alignment with my values, with my purpose meant that losing the company car, pension plan, share options and regular salary and replacing it with a car that would start if you were lucky, and financial uncertainty was absolutely the right thing to do. Simply, my values were more important to what I was about to give up.
By understanding my values, I understood what was important to me, my family and my life to such an extent that my conviction to go ahead with this drastic career change was not even a decision to make, it was the logical next step. I then started to look at the logistics of what needed to happen to actually make this work…..
How can you understand your values?
A simple way of understanding your key values and how they align to what you do, is to write down key words that you identify as important. Let your thoughts flow and refrain from overthinking as you write. As a word comes into your head, allow that word to flow to the paper.
As the paper fills, it is likely that you will become slower at generating. As you close out the list – it is time for a cup of tea, after all, tea is such a great drink and leveller.
As you revisit the sheet of paper, it is likely that you are drawn to some key words, and you might decided to eliminate some. What we are after, is looking at perhaps 7 or 8 key values that are you. The sort of words that your best friend would say, “Hey, if I didn’t know better, I would say that this is talking about you”.
These words are now the central themes of the next phase.
For each word, ask yourself “So what does this mean to what I am doing now and what I want to achieve?”
“Am I living these values or am I pretending to live these words?”
“What do I need to do to become even more aligned?”
This quick exercise can help to get you to a space of understanding more about what is really important to you. It might be that you will find it easier to work through this with a friend or perhaps engage a coach to help you. Whichever route you decide, the results can be transformational… but only if you take action on your fresh discovery.
Here’s the kicker, I left the company I was working for, the week that Lehman Brothers crashed which started the global recession in 2008. Here we are now in 2018, ten years on, and I have now worked for myself longer than I have worked for anyone doing the stuff that I love – enabling others.
I write this article, not sat in an office, but with my favourite coffee, a decaf coconut milk latte, in a comfortable coffee bar that I walked to this morning through woods dropping its autumnal colours with sun shading through the dropping leaves.
Am I missing the corporate space, sometimes to be honest. Working for yourself can be lonely, but this is outweighed by being far more rewarding…. and I meet absolutely amazing people.
But all this started by understanding what was important to me, what my motivations were and then having the conviction to take the first step, a decision that every one has the ability to take.