Pre-warning, this is a very self-indulgent blog post though given it’s the eve of my 30th birthday I think I’m allowed to get away with it!?
Tonight, I’ve been thinking about turning 30. I remember thinking when I was younger how old 30 was. Now I’m rapidly approaching (by the hour) the big THREE-OH, it’s amusing looking back at that time and realising how naïve I was!
So with that thought in mind, and a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand no less) in hand, I have been pondering all of the lessons I’ve learnt since my last big birthday milestone. There have been many, more than I could have imagined in nine short years, and with so many of these able to be applied in the business world I’m dedicating this blog post to my musings since 21…
21 – Grasp opportunity with both hands
My 21st year was one of the best of my life. I was in a great job, amazing friends and a wonderful family. It was this year I took control of my career and applied for a promotion, into a role I had no experience of – marketing – setting me on my journey to where I am today. Many people shy away from opportunities because they don’t feel 100% confident or ready to grab hold of them, though, as my friend Ed Pyke often says, “Opportunities are like tennis balls, you have a split second to decide whether to catch them, or drop them”. And unlike Wimbledon, we don’t have a flurry of ball boys and girls to scoop them up and pass them back to us. Take a risk once in a while, believe in your ability and you may end up surprising yourself.
22 – Jobs aren’t for life
I once believed I would stay working for my first employer, Canada Life, until my retirement (and being one of the last people at the company on a DB pension scheme and insured up to my eyeballs with life, income protection and critical illness it was more than tempting to stay). However if you’re ambitious then you need to be confident to walk away from a great job to something even better. And so after almost six years in the business I handed in my notice for an agency job in the big smoke and didn’t look back.
23 and 24 – Keep learning, always
Things change daily. There’s always something new to learn – whether that’s a new skill like cooking or speaking a foreign language; or understanding the latest business technology. Learning shouldn’t and mustn’t end at school / college / University. We need to take responsibility for continual development. And with so many free learning resources available, like Ted Talks, MOOCs and wealth of intelligent content on the internet, there should be no reason not to take time each month to look, listen and learn.
25 – Life is short
Shortly after joining HR consultancy, Purple Cubed, I was diagnosed with a heart condition. Without turning this into an X Factor sob story moment, the night I was admitted to hospital was the night I realised life is short, very precious and you only get one chance. Again, naively, I had never considered being seriously ill in my 20s and so it came as a real shock to me. From that moment on I decided to live life the way I wanted to and encourage others to follow suit. If you’re not happy, change it, you only get one shot as this world.
26 – Control the controllables
In my 26th year I was waiting for my heart operation. I decided, in the spirit of living life to the full, that I wouldn’t let this get me down. So despite having to quit the drink for a year (easier than expected) I focused on what I could control – my career, my relationships with family and friends and my experiences. Too many of us sweat the small stuff when in fact we need to let go of the things we can’t control and put our efforts into those we can.
27 – Feel the fear and do it anyway
I have been scared of flying since I can’t remember when. However with my new found attitude and, conveniently, winning a trip to Thailand, I decided I had to get over this fear if I wanted to experience the world. Since then I’ve come across more fears, especially when setting up Humm Media as most business owners will understand. Though with all of them it’s been far more beneficial to tackle them head on – seeking help from those who can offer it and relying on good old fashioned belief that, in the words of Nike, I can do it.
28 – Do your job like you’re not afraid to lose it
I greatly admire the Vice President of People and Organisational Development at luxury hotel management company, Dorchester Collection, Eugenio Pirri. Interviewing him for a newsletter, I asked what his greatest piece of advice was and he said “Do your job like you’re not afraid to lose it”. This has stuck with me since and, perhaps annoyingly for some, I’ve attempted to do this every day. There are times in our life where we change who we are for work. Holding back on ideas and comments, for fear of being shown the door. Though the best innovations come from people speaking up, so be bold and stand up.
29 – Things can change in an instant
In the last 12 months I’ve experienced significant change. The majority of which stemmed from one single telephone call. The past year has therefore taught me that no matter how much you plan, things change. In business we call this the VUCA environment. In life it’s just that shit happens. How we respond to these challenges is how we get through them. A great example of this is Thomas Edison’s response when his factory, and most of his life works, burnt to the ground in 1914. He was quoted as saying “All our mistakes have burnt up. Thank god we can start anew”. There’s power in seeing the best in everything and staying positive because ultimately it will all work out.