Many years ago, I used to work in sales. I had finished school, four years of ‘A-levels’ (yes four years – I went back to do some more after the first batch), and I wasn’t quite certain what on earth I wanted to do with my life.
I found myself working at a ‘Fortune 500 Company’ in the London Bridge area. I remember my then manager proudly stating, on numerous occasions, the fact that we were a Fortune 500 Company. It was almost as if he had to repeat this fact to himself (and consequently us) to reinforce his sense of importance.
The reality was that it was a crappy little basement office, full of under-qualified people who had fallen into the trap of earning some commission off the back of persuading small companies to buy franking machines. The work was thankless, heartless and dead-ended.
I remember the day I left. I had found out that I had been accepted onto the BSc course for adult nursing up in Lancaster. I was thrilled. Finally, I would be training to do the job of my dreams. A career, a qualification. A job for life. People will forever be ill and therefore need nurses to look after them.
I could kiss goodbye to rubbish jobs and pointless targets. I could leave behind work colleagues sniffing coke in the toilets on their lunch breaks. I could leave behind the rat race. The living-for-the-weekend mentality. The uncertainty of my professional career (or lack of, as the case was).
I completed my BSc with a (miraculous) 2:1. I felt so incredibly proud of my academic and professional achievement. My parents were full of glee and I felt excited and confident about my future. I walked into an amazing job as a cardiac nurse in a huge London hospital, spent a few years there before moving to a different London hospital as a specialist cardiac nurse. I felt like I had arrived.
And then I had two kids, and soon realised that no matter how much we try, it is incredibly difficult to resist the pull of your children at home if you have to go to employed work. Ultimately, I couldn’t resist the pull of mine and succumbed to my emotional needs to be with them.
I decided that despite the fact that I was now at home with the kids, I wanted to do something from home – explore new ventures. This is what I’m currently doing.
But what prompted me to start this post was while I was making cold calls this afternoon. I found myself on and off the phone, pitching ideas to people that have never heard of me before. It was reminiscent of some of the aspects of my old sales jobs. Except this time round, I’m a good ten years older. I have infinitely more confidence than I did back then. I’m not selling a product that I hate and don’t believe in. The difference is that when I speak to people, I am talking passionately about something I believe in, something that well and truly matters to me and something that comes from my heart.
And what a difference it makes. I absolutely love what I am currently doing. I don’t regret leaving nursing behind for one second. I don’t miss it. This may well change… It may have to change! But working for myself is giving me an incredible sense of purpose. I always used to believe that I was lazy and lacked motivation, but I’m now beginning to suspect that I’m actually a workaholic.
So this is simply my reflection on how some aspects of my work seem to have gone full-circle. I never thought I would be returning to the world of cold-calling, business deals and sales pitches, but here I firmly am. And I am loving it.