Thursday, 25 December 2014

Finding Sunlight - Day 26

Day 26 (Boxing Day)

26 - the number every side must add up to in Henry Dudeney's Heptagon Puzzle.
Using numbers 1-14 place a different number in every circle.
Dudeney was an
 English author & mathematician who specialised
in mathematical games & logic puzzles. If you enjoy maths problems you should
try Dudeney's book "
Amusements in Mathematics" published in 1917,
with over 400 puzzles + solutions.

I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday, full of all the things you like and value. Welcome to Boxing Day.

Today's post is by Ryan Cheyne - whom I met in real life for the first time at the CIPD conference this November. I have followed Ryan on Twitter for years (His handle is @ryskicheyne). Ryan works as the People Director at Pets at Home  (awarded as one of the Best Places to Work in the UK) and his passion for his work and colleagues is infectious. Ryan is a retail expert. Outside work Ryan has a passion for music, both playing (he is a talented guitar player) and listening (he's a great source for musical inspiration). He lives in Alderley Edge and is an active member of the Manchester CIPD and ConnectingHR groups - always willing to support and encourage others in the profession.


I last wrote a blog for the Advent series two years ago, it was one of the first blogs I’d written. The theme was essentially, life is challenging but I guess things aren’t that bad really, there are always people who’ve got it worse and it’s New Year so here’s to the future (it was a little longer than that to be fair!).
This year’s series of Advent blogs with the theme of Pathways has been excellent, and has helped me reflect on the last two years and it suddenly occurred to me, I’ve started to find the Sunlight!
Photo by Debi Ireland (@MajikBunnie)
2012 was a tough year personally for a number of reasons. I was genuinely grateful for the things in my life that were good: my health, my job, my kids, but my route forward had changed completely, I hadn’t anticipated it changing, I couldn’t control it, I couldn’t change it and most frightening of all I couldn’t SEE it.

Unanticipated life changes
Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) mired in oil from spill
 on beach at East Grand Terre Isle, Louisiana coast, 2010
photo by Charlie Riedel for AP (via
Where was I going? What should I be doing? And Why?
Hand stamped nickel silver sheet metal bracelet
At this stage of my life, I hadn’t anticipated finding myself living alone in a flat, with 4 plates, 4 knives, 4 forks etc. I was supposed to be the family man in a family home, supporting the kids as they moved seamlessly through teenage life (still keeping my fingers crossed on that one) and starting to enjoy the freedoms that come as the kids get older. Plans around houses, holidays and more quality time disappeared to be replaced by a complete lack of PURPOSE!

A rudderless boat
In HR we’ve built an industry around, objective setting, goal setting, succession planning. We know that great businesses have a “clear and common purpose” that their colleagues can unite behind and we measure success on how well we do against these measures but what happens out of work, in real life when that purpose goes?
It threw me, I felt lost! Work was great, but, what was it for, if it was not helping build a life outside work?

Destination Lost in the Fog, photo by Stu Willard
Now don’t get me wrong (and this is important), the last two years have not been bad at all, in fact they have been amazing. Professionally my proudest moment was when we were named as The Best Big Company to work for by the Sunday Times. Personally, I rediscovered my love of music and playing the guitar and I am having a ball playing live. The kids are doing well and I’m very proud of them, I’ve travelled, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of living without “stuff”. I’ve also met some amazing people, made some fabulous new friends and spent time with a very special person as we both tried to work our way through the fog of life. Our paths have now taken a different route, but you know who you are, Thank You.  
So life’s been good but all the time it has been clouded by a lack of purpose and a lack of clarity and this troubled me. What did I want to achieve at home and at work?

Claude Monet, 1879 Path in the Fog oil on canvas
A turning point came when I spoke to my coach about this (everyone should have one). She listened to me bemoaning my lack of direction, ambition, clarity and purpose. She listened and then asked, “Why are you worried?” It’s ok not to have a plan for a while, it’s ok just to live for a while, rediscover who you are and what you want to be, plans can come later.
So that’s what I’ve been doing, living life with no plan and trying not to worry about it, going with the flow, living in the moment, right here, right now and seeing what happens.

To be honest that’s still where I am, but over the last few weeks something strange has started to happen. I still don’t have a plan or a route but there is a gap in the clouds with the sunlight breaking through, a beam of light hinting at what could be ahead. Sunlight as a metaphor works well, but it has also started to feature in other areas of my life. I’ve discovered Port Sunlight on The Wirrel, in itself a little oasis of a village, created as a twentieth century approach to employee engagement (well worth checking out and at work I’m starting to rediscover my own sense of purpose.

Images of Port Sunlight, model village
built from 1888 for his workers by William Lever of Lever Brothers.
I am not a religious person but I do (somewhat bizarrely) believe in fate and that what’s meant to be will be. Who knows what the future holds? There will no doubt be bad things and challenges thrown in along the way because there always is, that’s life, but for the first time in a while I am starting to see a potential direction, a possible pathway, I am starting to find The Sunlight.

Photo by Debi Ireland (@MajikBunnie)

Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful of Sunshine

1 comment:

  1. Plans must always be shaped by intuition as well as analysis, so I concur with your blog Ryan. I also believe that things happen for a reason and at the right time, so your visit to Port Sunlight may be timely. By coincidence, I'm in Sale for a few days if you fancy a cuppa. Peter