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Celebrating Ten Years

On Valentine's Day ten years ago, I took a leap into the unknown. Stepping into my CEO's office, I handed in my resignation letter. I was off to launch my own business.

A decade on my heart is full of gratitude for the people I've got to know and walk alongside on their journey. I've experienced so much human goodness. People up for partnering with us to do meaningful work together. People who care about their teams. People who are up for being challenged.

My own journey is halfway done now. I intend to hang up my tools on 14th February 2033. So I’m fired up to make the next ten years special: working with great people on their organisation's leadership, strategy and culture. 400 weeks of work left!

My first reflection is below: the big decision.

Heartfelt thanks to all of you who have been part of the journey so far. You're all legends.

(1) The Big Decision

Cast your mind back to 2013. That year the words “Twerk” and “Selfie” were added to the dictionary. Tony Abbott became PM of Australia. The iphone 5 was released.

In 2013, my first child was 6 months old, I had a comfy job, a decent reputation and a Sydney-sized mortgage. On the face of it, not a great time to hand in your notice and try a complete career change. I went from a Chief Strategy Officer to the Director of….Me.

And yet that decision was one of the best I’ve made. Not just in the outcome, but also in the thought process. Here’s how it unfolded - I hope the process can help you next time you make a big decision.

A big decision needs a good question

“What is the best career for me that will fit my values, use my strengths, and pay my mortgage?”

What do you notice about this question?

It invites options. It’s not “should I quit my job or not?”

It has clear criteria. Inspired by the career flower idea in the book “What Colour Is Your Parachute”, the Japanese idea of “ikigai” and work in positive psychology, it boils down career choice into simple parameters.

Nevertheless, this decision-making process required a little work. Here’s my approach.

What *exactly* are your values?

You know roughly what your values are. But can you name the top 5 with clarity? I did the work to figure that out and capture my values clearly. These days, I recommend this online test to help you. It’s from the smart folks at Figuring out your values is something I often work with my coaching clients on. It can make a huge impact on the quality of your decisions.

And while you’re there, what are your strengths?

People that understand and leverage their strengths are much more likely to be happy according to the school of positive psychology. So: do the work. There’s a free test here which will help you work out your top 5. And then figure out how you can use them in your career.

Finally, what is the minimum amount of money you need to earn? We know that money doesn’t make us happy right? But we also know that we need to earn enough to take money worries off the table. So: what is that number for you? As I was changing career, I was open to going backwards, but needed to meet the minimum number.

I was able to apply these criteria to a range of options, from staying put, to finding a new job, to starting my own business. Being my own boss was the clear winner.

Fast forward a decade.

It’s 2023. Selfies are still a thing. iPhones are still going strong. But Twerking and Tony Abbott are distant memories.

So how did my decision play out? When we do a retrospective on any project or decision, we need to review what’s happened against what the original plan was.

I’ve found that doing work aligned with your values makes an enormous difference to motivation.

Focusing on your strengths helps you make the impact you are here to make.

And not tying your self-worth to salary-increases gives you freedom.

It’s been an awesome decade, and it all started with a well thought-out decision, one week in February 2013.


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