Now it’s time for you to do some self assessment, you need to find inspiration and you need to understand what your ‘staircase’ is to reach your end goal. I started reading the first couple of chapters of the first draft of my book to my wife Rin. It inspired her, I new in that instance and have known many times before, that inspiration can be more powerful than any other forces at play. That’s why a mentor can be critical because they encourage and inspire, and that’s why you need to find inspiration, not once but every chance you get.
There is no such thing as being ‘over-inspired’, fill up on the fruits of life, take a walk, talk to God, read a book, watch a TED talk, build a spider graph, take an evening class, ask a mentor deep and meaningful questions, take another walk, make a loaf of bread, based on the results feed it to the ducks, build a play-doe or lego house, take another walk. I think you get the point, you need space and time for inspiration but most of us have neither of these things. So you need to find inspiration within your current routine, listen to the TED talk on the tube to work, don’t turn the television on tonight instead read a chapter of a book. Do some research on your lunch break on your given career path, and for goodness sakes take a walk. I tend to have my greatest times of inspiration whilst on holiday, maybe because I remember how much I hate the ‘system’ or maybe because I suddenly have time to think straight, possibly the latter. More recently I went with the family to France for a couple of weeks, it that time is way reminded of my love of adventure, time alone and the benefit of rest. I also remembered how good French wine could be, in fact I bought 5 gallons of a local French wine whilst out there, luckily I had plenty of family around to help me finish it before departure home. The point is that routine needs to be broken, it’s depressing to know how the day is going to play out and end in advance.
Let’s use an artist analogy for just a little while, if you are an aspiring artist and you are looking for inspiration then go to a gallery… easy. If you are a budding entrepreneur then research how every mayor corporation started from scratch, I always find Richard Bandson’s story inspiring. If you want to go to the moon then start with University programmes, get into NASA and work your hardest to be the best. Whatever you are meant to do is only a few 5 year plans and mini successes away, grab every chance that is handed to you that will get you closer to that goal.
The unfortunate side of getting inspired is getting uninspired but that is a real possibility. Often we have a rose-tinted perception of what our success looks like but in the cold light of day the job we want is very different, oh so often I hear my teacher friends say “I love teaching but the paper work prohibits me from being a better teacher”. My doctor friends say “I just wanted to help people get better but the paper work prohibits me from being a truly good Doctor”. Reality hit us hard and it’s too late because we are already inside the belly of the beast. Don’t make that mistake, understand what you are getting yourself into because this will better manage you expectations. Also the other unfortunate side of inspiration is people who don’t want you to succeed (and there may be plenty of them). Every job or career has a ‘semi-successful’ probably quite intelligent manager or superior that will try to keep you in your place, with tough comments like “it’s a tough economy out there, not time to take a risk!”, “Nice idea but that won’t work” and my favourite of all “everyone’s replaceable”. I need to stop there and reiterate that nobody, yes nobody is ‘replaceable’, why would corporations pay millions to CEOs for their expertise if they were replaceable? These comments are designed to keep you in your current role, scared that you could be replaced easily and petrified to try anything different in case that dick (mind my language) was actually right and pursuing any other means of happiness is a dead-end. Stuff him and his tactics, they may work for the weak-minded but we know better. I have to warn you that most of the time people are far more subtle in crushing your dreams; they can even do it in a way that seems like they will be helping you. Classic line is “oh, that sounds like a really exciting hobby, maybe I’ll join you sometime”, no you’re not listening I’m moving to the Alps to become a professional snow boarder, “ have you thought everything through? Logistics and what not?”, yes of course “well we’ll always have a job for you here if it doesn’t work out!”. Had a similar conversation with an old boss of mine a few years back but I was leaving to go into an online business. She played it so cool, like she didn’t need me there and started make strategic plans for my replacement. I kept my head and came to the point of handing my notice in and she broke down “you can’t abandon us here, we need you!”, I just simply said “Why didn’t you say that before?”, She replied “I thought you were calling my bluff for a promotion”, I cheekily replied “I was, but when the job offer came though I couldn’t refuse”. From this they gave me exactly what I wanted but the point is that nobody is replaceable, we are all unique and all have something to bring to the table.
Now you are the boss, what do you do when your best staff are seeing jobs elsewhere and they are jumping ship? When I started managing staff a few years back now, I set them all a 5 year plan for their career progress with the business. I gave them key performance indicators (KPIs) to achieve and scope to be successful. I wanted them to know that it wasn’t just about the business, it was about how they affect the business and what difference they could make to the business. Ultimately I just wanted them all to succeed, I knew they all could push themselves further but I knew a few individuals could set the world on fire. Those people I started to mentor because I knew the value a mentor relationship had given to me. Before I knew it I was mentoring 3 individuals on a regular basis and they went from strength to strength, soon they had climbed the rocky corporate ladder and they became my round table of confidants within the business, people I could rely on and that would ultimately replace me. My mentor who we will call Peter set an example that has astounded me to this day, he moved from a Global Head role to make room for a man he had mentored to take a step up into his role. He understood the delegate timing of this man’s success and took and opportunity to be selfless and side step into a different business. Don’t misunderstand me it also worked out well for Peter as he moved into a Senior Vice President role for one of the biggest banks globally, not shabby. The point is that as a mentor to others you also have a responsibility to help them along the path of success even if it could cause a degree of risk.