I GOT FIRED (BY A GIRL) AND I, EVENTUALLY, LIKED IT

A quick succession of close but momentous events meant that in one fortnight, a few necessary chapters closed, at the exact moment many others opened for business.  If I didn’t live through it myself, I wouldn’t believe it to be true.  Even now, only some few weeks later is it all beginning to sink in.  As expected, these changes are uncomfortable, exciting, and exactly as they should be.

For the path that I drafted was not to be.  It is an unpredictable life and it was frivolous of me to expect that things would play out with the miraculous nature that I had once hoped for.   But change without a plan is foolish so it was with the best of intentions that the original endeavours I set out to conquer, were established.  If you’ve been following along, you would have ridden passenger for the ups and downs that have been the last seven months of my life.  Or, ‘life after corporate’ as it is more affectionately labelled.

It was in two minds that I made this leap.  With all the blind confidence I could muster, I made big plans to change the world and continue the journey I had begun of pushing the ’emotional intelligence’ agenda to those in need and questionably, those not so.  On one hand, I was full of steam, motivated by the momentum garnered from a series of awakenings.  On the other hand, I now realise, I sub-consciously expected it all to fail as it did – in all of its splendid, mundane and underwhelming glory.  I was not prepared, I had not planned (as much as is needed when throwing one’s stability away), and I was not yet free of the conditioning that the prior 18 years had placed on my working, and consequently, daily mindset.

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I toyed with different routines and routes, but I was still unravelling.  It’s a dangerous place to be because your conditioned expectations leave you clinging to familiarity, to safety.  Growth is meant to be uncomfortable.  If it was easy, everybody would be pressing the eject button.  The world needs you to stay comfortable.  To stick to what you know, or what you think you know.  Wake up, caffeinate, dance for the money, rinse, wash, repeat.  Don’t ask questions, do not pass go, do not collect $200.  Unless you dance on weekends, or away from your family, or in dangerous places; then yes – you get the extra clams.  Kudos?

So as mentioned, the money/plan eventually dried out.  I did what any semi-sane person would do and I applied for a triage of roles that ranged from unwarranted to downright out of my league.  I landed in the sparkliest one I could find and pushed hard for a role that I thought was equally challenging and exciting.  It scored extra points for tickling my ego in a fickle industry.  I gave it my all and quickly remembered that my capabilities were greater than my confidence alludes to.  Some big red flags came up quickly.  I verbalised them within my private network but vowed to go on.  I had stayed in my last workplace for almost six years.  Leaving within a month was unfamiliar territory that I had not prepared myself for.

I had many personal victories in the role and I took these as a sign to keep going despite the noise in the background.  But’s that the thing.  When the noise is a person, a manager, an owner; you can’t just wish it away – as I did.  It was gutless of me but I didn’t want for confrontation any more than I hoped that everything would just work out.  I voiced my concerns in a manner of ways which were both constructive and unconstructive.  But in the end, it didn’t matter.  The alarm bells were ringing, the red flags were flapping, and the sparkly option was beginning to show itself for what it was – a polished turd rolled in the most tremendous colours and coruscation.

And it was with this attitude that the best decision to be placed on me consequently occurred – I was fired!  I felt immediate relief.  Followed by a sting of pain.  A hit to the ego, a shot fired into the rationality of the irrational situation I had placed myself in.  A sadness for the loss of customer relationships I had made, and for the successes, I had achieved.  But mostly, a relief.  There are always two sides to every story – yours, mine, and the truth.  But, I can assure you; I was both a lot better and a lot worse than this story tells.  ‘Irreconcilable differences’ are what the divorce papers would say, and I couldn’t say it better myself.

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So, it is with the low-lows that we, the people of hope and good vibes, await the high-highs.  And what a surprisingly short wait, this one was.  It was on the very same day of the private flogging that I received good news from one of the faculty from my University.  A high distinction for both my final assignment and overall grade in Consumer Behaviour.  The irony is not lost.  “I’m very impressed with your academic maturity and approach to this assignment. You should seriously consider taking further academic courses to MA if not your initial plan, or beyond if it was! This assignment clearly demonstrates your deep understanding of CB theory and I feel your analysis and application is excellent. Great work.  Well done.”  Dr. Thornton – Lead Tutor.

Literally three days after this emotional rollercoaster, I get a message from the international team at Airbnb Experiences.  That beer and food tour I proposed for shits n gigs – grew some hairy, hop-loving legs!  Airbnb are launching this extension of their business in Melbourne, and after hustling to get all my ducks in a row; I pitched, nailed it and am very much looking forward to hosting the inaugural ‘Beer + Bites’ tours in Melbourne, later this month.  They say do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life….and well, I am pretty fond of beer.

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But between kicking a few goals academically and entrepreneurially, I was still left with a gaping hole in my capacity, schedule, and wallet.  Re-enter Vivo Marketing, stage left.  I have been working with a good friend and colleague on her business since she celebrated a successful first year of strategic and executional marketing consultation    (post an impressive slew of big corp and FMCG experience).  As the business changed and evolved, my involvement weighed up and down depending on need and desire.  The fluidity has been a welcomed relief around other commitments that had very little.

Almost as if it were meant to be, a new phase of growth in the business literally appeared the week the axe was swung.  More importantly, opportunities to use my strengths and dabble in my passions became more present than previously possible.  So, it is with this new opportunity that I will focus on my love of strategy, people management, and my absolute favourite – brand aesthetics.  Working alongside a small business owner who is flexible and open to ideas, has a growth mindset and is not wedded to things that aren’t working, is well, such a great trait of a true leader.  I hope we grow the shit out of this business together.

I wish that was all I have to tell you but the truth is there are even more doors opening.  Things are on track (a slower track, but a track nonetheless) for my co-working space to launch early 2018.  The furniture is in, the art is up on the walls, and the space looks amazing.  It is a complete turnaround from what is looked like six or so months ago.  The website is coming along (slowly) and as soon as the photos are complete, it will be time to advertise, interview and open!

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But wait, there’s more.  No, I’m not even joking and you don’t get the free steak knives…just yet.  We’re nearly there.

My emotional intelligence and ikigai missions continue their lifelong journeys, as promised.  The difference is that now they occur at a much slower and targeted pace as their manifestations continue to evolve, adapt, or die off.  This fortnight of possibilities continued in its fortuity with the national broadcasting commission putting out a call for new podcast ideas (yes Aussies – the ABC).  I have been brewing on my idea since I got together with you all to head over to MIT last year.  That is, I want to open up the conversation about people’s purpose, their reason for getting out of bed in the morning, their ikigai.  I want to explore the thousands of different jobs, careers, and callings that people get dressed for and head out the door to, each and every morning.  I find out whether this concept has any shtick in December.  Cross all your fingers and toes.

Look, we’re at 1496 words so I must be getting close to the end, right?  Right!  I want to leave you with a bit of information that I learned recently from a ground-breaking study completed by UC Berkeley psychology professor and expert on the science of emotions, Dacher Keltner.  He and Alan Cowen, a doctoral student in neuroscience also at UC Berkeley have discovered that human emotions span a spectrum of 27 distinct dimensions, not 6 as previously described.  Moreover, in contrast to the notion that each emotional state is felt in isolation, the study found that “there are smooth gradients of emotion between, say, awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration.  We don’t get finite clusters of emotions in the map because everything is interconnected.  Emotional experiences are much richer and more nuanced than previously thought’, the pair discussed in a recent article.

Doesn’t this just fill your head with so much curiosity?!  We have such a long way to go in terms of understanding, communicating, and learning about the full spectrum of these human emotions.  With more focus here, we can begin to uncover the next waves of human evolution which will come from understanding ourselves and our fellow man better.  Heck, even the implications for user experience and business are beyond our current realm of capability.  It’s an exciting time for this discovery.

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If you were on the edge of your seat…wonder no more.  The 27 human emotions, are – admiration, adoration, aesthetic appreciation, amusement, anger, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, confusion, craving, disgust, empathic pain, entrancement, excitement, fear, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, relief, romance, sadness, satisfaction, sexual desire, surprise.

Ok, you made it.  Well done.  It’s a lot to take in.  I am truly a multipotentialite in every sense of the word and as such, it is time to stop with the incessant application of safety net options.  It is time to go it alone, to seek the road less travelled, to adopt a reasonable answer to the increasingly tricky question, “what do you do?”.  But that is the least of my concerns at this moment because for the first time in a long time, I truly feel both happy and content.  I run my own timetable, work with a variety of wonderful people, feel challenged daily, move my body lots more, drink way less, work fewer hours, and am much more productive overall.  I’m literally like a beaming ray of fucking sunshine in this moment.  I am a better friend, a better wife, a kinder person to myself, and a more conscious citizen.

2018 is going to be a big year, for us all.  Watch out world!

ZB xx

*Cover Image: Winston the Whale, Final Image: Lisa Larsen, 1949

 

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