Thursday, 28 May 2009

My story (part 1)

What drives my business is me. This might sound obvious, but my own life story explains why I do what I do.

My career change wasn't so much a 'change', as a 'reinterpretation'of all the memories, thoughts and feelings that belong to me.

OK, let me explain.

I grew up in 1980s Merseyside, on a rough council estate - 'the Noccy' for council estate connoisseurs. At the time, Merseyside had two main industries; heroin and unemployment.

Unemployment was everywhere and I remember how it felt to live with it; the anxiety it brought to life. It was real. I remember watching Boys from the Blackstuff and knowing the desperation. That truly was a broken society, and I will never forget how bleak it felt to live in a place which had lost hope.

The point of this story is not that this is particularly hard or unique, just that it left a powerful effect on me as I grew up. Ultimately, the message I learned was simple: get away.

And that's how I made my early career decisions. Get away from the past. So after doing all the right things at school and then at uni, I eventually put clear blue water between me and my past by getting a great job as a management consultant.

And once there, driven by fear of my past, I tried and tried at a job I was not actually very good at. But because I was bright and conscientious (a lethal combination to career changers) I eventually succeeded.

When I say 'succeeded', I mean in the sense that I had responded to my upbringing and the experiences I had had. I had escaped my past.

But I had not succeeded on other levels. For example - just a small thing - I felt as though my job was meaningless. What did I want on my gravestone, Here lies Rob, he held down a decent job and once he even bought a BMW?

It turned out that the process I had used to choose my career (of running away from something) had left me trapped between an undesired past and an unwanted future.

I was stuck.