Thursday, November 22, 2012

how did I get here...?

I've always been a fan of Talking Heads, and in particular their Twilight-Zone inspired track 'Once in a lifetime'; and while the lyrics are largely concerned with an existential mid-life crisis, there's a line that always strikes me, where David Byrne says:

"and you may ask yourself - well, how did I get here?"

And maybe its because I've been listening to some old Talking Heads albums recently, or maybe because I'm approaching a certain age... but I am catching myself increasingly reflecting on how I've come to be living the life I am - I've never had any grand career ambitions or 'life goals', so its not always easy to look back to spot the markers along the path I've followed.

However, one thing I am certain of is that a lot of who I am and where I am today is because of other people who (with hindsight) have had influence over my thinking and choices made - sometimes by offering an opportunity for work or visit, and sometimes through challenge or encouragement. And mostly they didn't need to do the things they did that have contributed to who I am today, but with graciousness and goodwill they freely shared something of themselves and their time.

So I've decided I really should try and thank these people as I now go forward into whatever (mis)adventures await; but in keeping with my avoidance of career plans, it won't be in any formal or structured way. It'll be when I come across them at conferences or their name is suggested as 'someone I may know' by LinkedIn.

So watch out - I won't be publicly 'naming and shaming' you, but you may be approached by someone in the future who says 'thank you for that time 10 years ago when you...'. 
I think its perhaps a practice we should all perhaps try and do more of in not only better understanding ourselves, but also in encouraging others to keep on changing the world for the better one person at a time...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the day I realised I was a 'professional'...

so – its official: I'm a professional after all (despite what some may feel are my efforts to the contrary...)

Some of you will know that as a provider of support and consultancy services to enterprises, I 'fell' into self-employment and become a micro business by accident nearly 8 years ago. It was never part of any grand career or life plan, but rather a way that I could use what I felt were my skills and gifts in a way that I could continue to support myfamily, and also offer some contribution to the wider world.

During one of my rare attendances at aconference recently I made the most of an opportunity to hear about the work to develop and agree national standards for advisers to co-operativeenterprise. What struck me most from my participating in that session was how I clearly I exhibit the '3 pillars of professionalism':

-        qualifications assessed against national occupation standards
-        assessed and qualified CPD (continuing professional development)
-       subscribing to a recognised code of conduct (especially useful in handling those rare occasions that clients wish to file a complaint against me)

These are all things that I find myself naturally doing – qualifications are a quick and easy way to allow me to assureclients of my skill and knowledge; CPD assures me that I'm keeping myself up-to-date and having opportunity to reflect on my knowledge and thinking; and codes of conduct I subscribe to through my membership of trade bodies (such as the Institute of Consulting) help keep me accountable (and so strengthen my integrity).

So it’s gratifying to learn that these practices I've always adopted as being 'common sense' make me a 'professional', but does this now mean I have to start behaving like one....? and if so, does that mean I should start wearing a suit and tie and charging exorbitant rates for my time ;-)