I’ve pretty much lived my life thinking there was a plan. Well, maybe not thinking there was a plan, but certainly making a plan for myself and working towards enacting the plan. I remember contemplating the turn of the century when I was in my teens. I worked out that I’d be 34 in 1999. I figured way back then that I’d be married with a couple of kids and had established some semblance of a career for myself. And guess what, that’s exactly where I was at the turn of the century and I felt pretty pleased with myself because I was working the plan really well.
I don’t know quite what happened, but in 2001 I started to realise that the plan was OK, but there had to be a bit more to it. I started by moving out of my comfort zone and seeking work in new locations. I wasn’t moving very far afield, but I was challenging myself by placing myself in new situations and seeing how well I coped. I found I coped really well and, in fact, I was relishing the challenge new situations presented to me. It wasn’t always smooth sailing and I did encounter setbacks which knocked me around a bit, but they seemed to teach me a little more about myself and I grew in confidence as a result.
Late 2007 I started reading blogs and was subscribing to them via my Google Reader. This was a turning point for me because I started to entertain the idea that I might be able to contribute to the conversations I was reading about. So I started writing. I had no plan, other than to share knowledge. And you know what I’ve discovered? I’ve discovered that pursuing something because you have a passion for it with no predetermined outcome can take you in directions you never really thought possible.
What’s led to this moment of self reflection? It’s the reading of Johnny Bunko: The last career guide you’ll ever need by Dan Pink. I first heard about this from Garr Reynold’s blog, Presentation Zen. Garr created a great slideshow about Dan’s book and this prompted me to get a copy to read for myself. (Garr is conducting a seminar next Friday -4th July – at the Wesley Convention Centre in Sydney. I’m flying up to attend. Can’t wait. If you’re in Sydney I’d recommend you check it out. Garr has fantastic ideas about how we should present information. Invaluable for teachers.) Here’s the slideshare presentation;
You must read this book. IMHO, it should be required reading for students contemplating career choices. I’ll certainly be plugging it at my school. For that matter, I think it should be requred reading for everybody- we all can learn from the advice metered out by Dan.
If I’d read this book in my youth perhaps I wouldn’t have been so focused on the plan and would have paid more attention to the kinds of things Steve Jobs refers to in the slide above. (from Garr’s presentation) Along the way I’ve done some of this, and following my gut has been something I’ve relied on more heavily as I’ve aged. Maybe this comes from maturity and really knowing ourselves; understanding that inherently we have some sense of what is right for us. Maybe I just needed someone to point this out to me earlier. Don’t get me wrong, the plan hasn’t worked out too bad; I’ve got two great kids and a supportive husband who is understanding throughout this blogging journey that to some extent pulls my focus away from the homefront. I feel incredibly fortunate.
Here’s another slide from Garr’s presentation that maps out the six key lessons from Dan Pink’s book. My advice is watch Garr’s excellent presentation and go and buy yourself a copy of the book. I think you’ll like it.