Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Falling in love again

Day 15 (Thursday 15th December 2016)

15 hostages, who had been used as human shields in Iraq, were released

admired heavyweight boxing and subsequently a humanitarian activist, 
died 3 June 2016. He lived his life according to his values and once said: 
"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."
Goodness me, the days are flying by and we have had the most amazing selection of blogs from new and old voices. Today, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Gill Martin, an independent coach, facilitator and learning enthusiast and loving mother and partner, who lives near me in London. Described by many as conscientious, calm and creative, she is much respected and valued by those who have worked with her. After studying Linguistics at university, Gill commenced her career in retail (with a brief stint between BHS and the Body Shop which enables her legitimately to sing "I Ain't Gonna Work On Maggie's Farm No More"). After being a successful store manager, Gill progressed into training. Although happy as a consultant, Gill has strayed occasionally back into corporate life (both times for organisations that try to make the world a better place and to enhance people's lives - most recently Macmillan Cancer Support and before that PRS (the organisation that tries to protect the rights of song writers, composers and musicians). Gill is very values led.

Gill was very nervous about posting a blog in the series, but I am sure that you will agree with me that she has produced a great read. I suspect that it echoes how many of us feel. If you want to take the conversation further you can follow Gill on Twitter, her handle is @Gill_Mart. Or write some comments for her here.


Falling in love again  

This year I realised I was in a hollow in my career. Not a deep dark chasm, more a wide shallow crater like you see in the pictures of the moon. 

Lunar crater - courtesy of NASA
I was working, paid every month by organisations that exist to do good. And I didn’t do bad work, I delivered things that needed to be delivered, said no to doing things that didn’t serve the greater good. Yet I felt like a small figure in a vast landscape, hiding in plain sight.

William Henry Millais, Hayes Common, 1852-3. Oil on canvas. Yale Centre for British Art

So, I climbed out and I’ve been standing on the edge asking myself what happened. And the answer is very simple, I fell out of love with what I do. As I say this there’s a voice in the back of my head telling me I sound like a privileged north Londoner complaining there was no asparagus at the farmers’ market, that loving what you do is a surely a luxury, that there are many jobs that are quite hard to love. And who am I to complain about professional dissatisfaction when the world is in crisis and people have suffered real loss? But I’ll hush the voice because I know for me that it matters, it really matters to love what I do.

Source: advert 2012

When I first tentatively sat on the edge of the hollow I really wasn’t sure if I could ever fall in love again, if I needed to move on and find something else to call ‘work’. I’ve had a good hard look at what was getting in the way and anger and fear feature large in the reckoning.

Illustration from "Une enfance dans la lune". By B Moraillon

Anger didn’t come out well in me, it didn’t rail against injustice and serve as a call to action. It turned me into a three-year old having a major tantrum, huge bursts of energy that ended up nowhere. And looking back I really thank the person who had the courage to call it out, who didn’t politely walk around me, but told me straight. At the time, it felt like a slap in the face (aren’t you supposed to ignore tantrums?) but I know it was done with a positive intention, as a wake-up call rather than a put down.

I’m understanding more what I do with fear. Avoidance is my tactic of choice; no horror movies or scary theme park rides for me. And avoidance is fine so long as no one else suffers the consequences. I feel proud of how I manage the fear I carry as a parent. The fear of harm or loss can feel all-consuming and I’ve worked hard to stop that fear clouding my decisions so my children could learn to live their own way. I’ve lots of lessons still to learn about how fear shows up in my professional life and how it influences the decisions I make about my work with others. I have some pay-back to do for the person who took a risk with me.
But recently has been rediscovering joy. It’s the feeling I’ve had when I’ve walked through the woods and really seen autumn, when I’ve watched dogs tear around in circles having the best time …ever! When just for a minute, on a Saturday morning run, I find my inner gazelle, or, if I dare own up to it, I laugh till I cry at the ex-shadow chancellor doing the cha-cha-cha.

Ed Balls and Katya Jones perform the cha-cha-cha on Strictly Come Dancing
And I’ve had this feeling in my professional life too; while sitting with a group of colleagues learning to do tricky stuff together, while working one on one and marvelling at how resourceful people can be; and while soaking up the spirit of generosity that oozes from the bit of Twitter I’ve cautiously dipped in to. And, for anyone who remembers The Fast Show, it’s ‘Brilliant!’

Finding love in any part of my life, as a partner, a parent, a friend and a daughter has always involved dealing with the dark stuff, but remembering to let joy in is what gets me through. So now I’m looking forward to whatever ‘work’ I do with joy in my heart. I’m not promising I won’t look back, there’s still learning for me in that hollow, but there’s also a wonderful landscape of heights to climb.

Inspiring heights ahead

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