Ten years ago, I was sipping fine wine from Stellenbosch and eating even finer game in a restaurant in South African. It’s called a Boma and looked like the hut of a tribal chief. A colleague saluted “it doesn’t get better than this”. Yet, I felt I am in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing, being with the wrong people. What on earth was going on?
I had just started at a global Telecommunications company as an account manager for their mobile Internet services. Among others, my markets were Egypt, Switzerland and South Africa. I earned a lot more money than in my previous role, I admired the inspiring female leader of our PMO, and my employer more or less sponsored a long weekend in Cape Town, probably the most remarkable coastal city I have ever been to. One part of me felt on top of the world – and another felt buried under the burden of a wrong career choice.
I didn’t enjoy the tasks I had to perform, it had little to do with what I did before, yet on paper it looked the same and was more senior. It was one of those jobs where you sense that if you don’t show up for a week (or month) life will have coped without it. I didn’t get on with my direct line manager. I just didn’t make the right choice and there immediate cringe moments e.g. when the London bombings happened – on day three of my short stint – a colleague complained that all tubes were now down, yet that statistically now the London Underground is the last place where another terrorist attack would happen. He disappeared into a conference call to mask his anxiety and pretended it was business as normal.
In essence, I didn’t have a sense of purpose, and I was with the wrong tribe.
Fast forward to 2015, I am in exactly the same hotel (which I didn’t book, pure serendipity…) sipping Chenin Blanc and eating Springboek, and I say to myself: it doesn’t get better than this. I am facilitating a two-day storytelling with people I love and for a client I start to love. And this time it’s true and real. What a beautiful node in my personal space-time!
Over the last ten years, I have become a respectable leadership coach and change catalyst. I now run my own business, and together with Stuart Bewley and Tambo Silavwe of Amplify Presentations we deliver the first pilot for global sales managers at Microsoft Mobile, formerly known as NOKIA. Working with creative, open-minded and fun-loving account and product managers from across Africa made it easy for me to be in the flow.
In 2015, I am proud and happy to live and breathe my purpose and I am lucky and privileged to be surrounded by awesome people from various tribes.
Are you…? If not, ping me and I’ll give you a free career coaching session.