I left school before finishing my final year not knowing exactly what I wanted to do but knowing I wanted to do work that didn’t feel like work.
In one of my first administration jobs I was nicknamed the “Whirling Dervish” because I never sat still and was always looking for something to do. I was the youngest, least experienced person on the team and quickly learnt every task in the department so I could replace any of my colleagues when they were on leave or called in sick. I was the only person on the team who loved going to work every day because this didn’t feel like work.
After a couple of years my team leader encouraged me to move on as there were no further development opportunities available in the organisation. I was sad to go but also excited by the prospect of joining a young, vibrant company in the tech sector. They were flexible, innovative and sounded like just what I needed to take my career to the next level. What a mistake.
My boss was a technical expert who had been pushed into a leadership position that she didn’t want to do and decided to take it out on anyone who didn’t do things her way. She made a lot of mistakes so her way was often the wrong way and customers would complain. I recall spending many weekends dreading going to work knowing that at some point during the week I would end up crying in the bathroom. This definitely felt like hard work.
Finding my strength
About that time I started looking around at my options and did some TAFE courses in accounting (not really me but proved to be useful later on) and finally, following some good advice, made the decision to move into Human Resources where I specialised in recruitment. I soon learnt that many of the people I was interviewing had no idea how to apply for a job so I started running courses at a local community college to help them.
I joined Toastmasters and discovered I had a talent for public speaking. So I combined that with my desire to help people enjoy their work by completing a degree in Adult Education while working full time. I had finally found work that didn’t feel like work and even landed the ideal job to help me develop further.
A few years later I found myself with the “opportunity” of moving from Sydney to Darwin. In other words, my partner had been offered a job there and I had no choice. I said yes under the condition I could start my own business. I got 10 years experience in 3 years, working all over the Northern Territory training people on mine sites, military bases and in government departments. The relationship ended, I moved to Brisbane and my business expanded to include speaking and coaching.
Having success and failure
In 20 years of self employment I’ve worked with organisations in 8 countries helping them to develop their people and helped many individuals get promoted, change careers or start their own businesses.
I’ve written 5 books on personal growth and leadership, won awards and been praised by clients. I’ve travelled business class, stayed in luxury hotels and been a VIP at events. I’ve owned an inner city apartment and a sports car.
Sounds impressive. Well, it was until it all disappeared. I went from wondering how I could live without valet parking to wondering how I was going to pay for petrol.
So why did it happen? I moved away from doing work that was right for me and started listening to messages from other people about what I should be doing. As a result my income dropped and my motivation disappeared.
It was only when I was offered a great development opportunity that I had to decline that I got help. I started to figure out why I was struggling and then did some research on how others had dealt with challenges in their careers which helped me to develop a 5 step process for creating sustainable career success. I had a few false starts along the way which made the process slower than it could have been. That’s because I was fearful of giving up what I had and I wasn’t clear on what authentic success meant for me. Once I figured that out the decision on what to do next was much easier.
Where to from here
I’m now out of debt, back to doing work that doesn’t feel like work and getting closer to my goal of being a digital nomad, running my business from anywhere in the world while housesitting. I’m also able to focus on my passion for ballroom dancing.
My mission now is to help other people find work that doesn’t feel like work. I want to help them have a career that doesn’t wear them down, burn them out and let’s them have the life they want because I know what that feels like when you don’t.
I’ve learnt the hard way that you can’t do that alone. You need the right support to help you make decisions and take action. One of my strengths is being able to look at other people’s situations and offer advice on their options. So now I use all my skills, experience and contacts to help other people avoid the pitfalls of unsustainable success.
Experiences I can share
Here is a summary of the experiences I can leverage to help you create a sustainable, successful career.
- 17 years as an employee, temp and contractor
- 20 years self employed
- High school drop out who completed a degree as a mature age student
- Background in Human Resources specialising in recruitment
- Coach for 10 years, professional speaker for 15 years and trainer/facilitator for 25 years
- Knowledge of leadership, employee engagement and generational communication
- Experienced in conducting strategic planning sessions for government and industry
- Guest panelist and panel leader for industry events and conferences
- Author of 5 books on career planning, personal development and leadership
- Conducted research projects on career reinvention, training needs and leadership issues
- Worked with clients in corporations, government, small business, not for profits and associations
- Engaged on major projects by organisations including Qantas, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Griffith University, Australian Red Cross and Petronas
- Industry knowledge of car sales, trades, franchising, disability, retail, real estate, childcare, IT, finance, consulting, tertiary education, manufacturing, government, military and police
- Spoken at events in 8 countries across the Asia Pacific region to groups of up to 1,000 people
- Spoken to groups using foreign language and sign language interpreters
- Qualified for Certified Speaking Professional accreditation, the only internationally recognised standard for speakers
- Won awards for keynote speaking from Professional Speakers Australia
- Won an award for leadership program delivery and support from TAFE NSW
- Volunteer leadership roles on state, national and international committees including 3 years on an association board
- Sat on award and accreditation panels as a judge
- Interviewed for TV, radio, webinars and podcasts distributed nationally and internationally
- Articles published nationally, internationally and online
- Qualified for accreditations in speaking, training and facilitation
- Tried stand up comedy and Improv
- Volunteered at a zoo and a community garden
- Competitive ballroom dancer
- International house sitter and pet minder
- Travelled overseas 60 times and visited 30 countries