I’ve just been reflecting about the advantages of working for yourself and finding a different balance in your working life.
I started working for myself at the start of last year after many years working in house for a number of organisations (if you are curious you can find out more in my linkedin profile). I had a number of reasons for making this choice, one of which was to have a better WLB. Another was about having a greater variety of experiences through applying my skills and experience in different organisations, with different people who have different challenges and ambitions.
What this gives me is a the chance to test myself every day :
- to meet the promise to deliver that I have made with my clients;
- to be aware of the people and the culture around me, and not to make any assumptions about what will work and what won’t;
- to make sure I am a role model of the right behaviours;
- to be my natural positive and optimistic self that creates a successful change environment; and
- to be agile and nimble in my approach – learning all the time.
It is this ability to be curious and to learn new things alongside adapting the old ones that I find most invigorating. I have always felt that the desire to carry on learning is a key human quality to the extent that once you stop wanting to learn you are probably dead. A few years ago I was coaching a CIO who was struggling with changes in the organisation. I remember him telling me that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. My challenge to him about what happens to old dogs came to pass when he left us a few months later. The spark had gone.
It must also be a way of differentiating between people who are inquisitive and actively seek out learning opportunities and those who passively wait for them to happen to them. Warren Berger recently wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about Why curious people are destined for the C-suite which argues that curiosity is the distinguishing factor between the best and the rest.
For me, whilst I may not aspire to the C-suite (see reason #1 above), the desire to remain curious, challenging myself to be the best I can be remains a fierce, burning fire that is fed by this way of working.