When I look back at my story, it provides a rather beautiful metaphor for my profession in, and passion for career coaching and personal development.
I started climbing mountains on family holidays in North Wales, and became seriously hooked in the Scouts and Venture Scouts when I enjoyed regular winter trips to the British mountains, and a couple of summer expeditions to Austria.
I made maps of places such as Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Sudan and the British Virgin Islands. It was a fascinating time, being involved in planning the flights for aerial photography, interpreting the photographs and eventually producing the plates for the different layers of the final map.
When that department merged with Ordnance Survey, I didn’t want to relocate and moved for a year or so to another government department where I surveyed government buildings and drew floor plans.
When digital mapping eventually arrived I had moved back to cartography and was mapping pipelines for British Gas. It was a key decision point for cartographers: whether to follow the digital revolution or move on. I chose to move on, retraining as a computer systems developer with Commercial Union (now Aviva).
It was during my latter years as a cartographer and my career in computing that I undertook bigger mountaineering expeditions to the Andes, the Himalayas, the Tien Shan and the Caucasus.
At that time I also held various leadership roles in scouting.
So that’s where my passion comes from to help young people learn the strategies for success that I share with my business and career clients.
At work, although I trained as a programmer I spent most of my computing career there working on the people side of things: business analysis, project leading, user support for MI systems. And for almost all of that time I was working with HR/personnel, pensions and taxation people.
So it was a good time – the work was ok, the people were great and the money was good. Even so, when a merger resulted in my job being made redundant, my first thought was “I don’t want to do this anymore”.
Because I didn’t have any passion for it and that’s what I really wanted: to get up in the morning and relish going to work.
I whittled a long list of possibilities down to four options:
Adventure Tour Leading
I had support through redundancy from professional career coaches. Having researched my latter two options in detail, I realised that what these career coaches did was a combination of the two skill sets.
So that is where, in 2001, I started my professional coaching career.
You can read elsewhere about the training I have undertaken and the accreditations I’ve achieved.
My journey in personal professional development and coaching has been amazing, and will continue to be so: it’s why I’m here, it’s my big passion. It’s what has informed my vision and mission.
Personal Professional Development helps you discover who you want to be and where you want to get to.
It helps you map a route to get there (cartography).
It provides a series of tools and techniques, routines if you like, to help you get there as elegantly and efficiently as possible (computer systems).
You gain confidence and strategies to overcome challenges along the way and achieve amazing successes (mountain expeditions).
When “problems” come up, you just have to find solutions. You need the right mindsets and attitudes as well as the technical training. The rewards are phenomenal.
Mountaineering and writing professionally.
I took two trips to the Antarctic around the time of my redundancy. I had an article on one of these published in an Australian newspaper, and it lead me eventually to work on an expedition ship in the Arctic for three weeks.
The point of telling you that is to emphasise...
The beauty of it all is that it isn’t over. It’s just going to keep getting better.
How do I know?
Because I decided!
What will you decide for your career, your business and your life?