“Can’t you see what I’ve done? Can’t you see what I do? It’s not really unique, and it’s hopelessly crude. But these are my decisions, these are my mistakes. And I’ll fall down again, if that’s what it takes.” – The Bluetones – The Fountainhead
There was a purely selfish reason – it’s been a tough week personally and I know that talking to Carl always brings my energy up, makes me think differently and invigorates me. I needed that today.
And there was the coaching reason – there was definite stuff I wanted to talk through and I value the opportunity to do this openly, and honestly, in this process.
I definitely got both of those areas covered off in today’s conversation but I also got my mind blown a little by the way things were reflected back at me. These are a few of the thoughts coming out of that.
I am a working prototype
It doesn’t sound much but this was probably the most profound thing that came out of my head today. An almost throwaway comment about the way I approach life, and why I struggle to articulate a singular ambition (across all the things I do or in any one of them).
Not because I don’t have ambition, or aspiration, but because I’m more about the journey than I am the destination. That I am in love with possibilities. That I like to experiment and be open to whatever results may come. That I don’t see something not working as failure but as helpful evidence toward future choices.
It’s because I am a working prototype: functional but not yet complete.
And knowing this starts to make sense of why I insist on doing so many different things at once (my work in local government, my work with LocalGov Digital, my work with Noble and Wild, my work with Louder Than War, my author persona and novel). I’m too interested in all of them – the mind-blowing beyond exciting possibilities of them – to stop now.
(It’s also because my brain runs quite fast and so I need lots of input. Just call me Johnny Five).
Disrupting practice, disrupting leadership
Another revelation for me came around the way I think about leadership, or more specifically being a senior leader (of some sort). I don’t want to cover too much of this here (maybe in some other post, some other time) but I want to reflect on a realisation.
I’d put a line between practice, which I actively seek to disrupt and innovate; and leadership, which I’d scoped out of any such thing. Why? Well, there’s no real answer to that.
In the same way I’ve shaped my delivery and experience to reflect my values and beliefs I should approach any sort of leadership opportunity in the same way. Any such senior role (and I’ve no clear idea whether that will be my path to walk or not) is not a costume to be put on, or a role to be played. Which makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing (not least because I’m scared of masks).
An open and honest telling of my story
I’ve thought about why I blog over the years I’ve been doing it (nearly 20 now, in various forms, and around seven for this blog) but I’d not thought about in the way I ended up doing today; as an open and honest telling of my story.
I blog mainly for myself, rather than for an audience (sorry guys). I remember things better when I write them down, and the things I only half remember I can handily come back to. Do I sometimes write things that are useful to other people? It’s only fairly recently I’ve known that yes, somethings I write help or set thoughts running in others. And that’s great – because it leads to possibilities (did I mention I love them?) and also more evidence for me in rebuilding my professional confidence.
I’ve worried in the past that maybe writing so openly is giving away the goods too soon, or that I’d be judged poorly for ‘over-sharing’. Do you know what? It doesn’t matter. Writing makes sense to me, that’s what matters.
A few final thoughts on this conversation…
There were other bits of today’s conversation’s I really valued – the ability to just say ‘how mad is this thing that’s happening to me’ and have someone be excited and encouraging about it (lots of people around me are but don’t think you can get enough of that stuff); to explore some options for the future that I’ve not really vocalised anywhere and to feel safe and unjudged for doing so; and being able to read out a list of things I’ve personally achieved in the last five years and to not feel like I was bragging.
It’s all good for the soul and it’s definitely helpful for professional and personal development. So my final reflection on this coaching conversation, and the process overall, is that it has triggered long overdue healing and growth. It’s given me the confidence to go after those possibilities I love.
And because the process has given me so much, I owe it to the process to give back by being the best me I can be in all that I do.
(Much thanks to Carl as always for his time, sharing a journey with me and for being an all round nice person).
You can find me on Twitter. I like to chat about local government, digital, music and random things that go through my head.
Or you can read my words about music on Louder Than War (recent stuff include an Indietracks interview and a Take That live review. Coming this week Blur and Taylor Swift live reviews, hopefully Mammoth Penguin and Haiku Salut album reviews).