The one where its about reflection

When I was 6 years old I wanted to be a Builder… I wrongly understood my Dad to be one (he wasn’t)

When I was 11 years old I wanted to be a Journalist…I had seen “All the President’s Men”

When I was 14 years old I wanted to be an Accountant… then realised it involved lots of numbers and having attention to detail

When I was 16 years old I wanted to be a Doctor…then realised there were easier ways to get a Mercedes and I like my sleep too much (the white coat would have worked for me though)

When I was 23 years old I had a degree (in Biochemistry) but with no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up…

I’m now 36 and seem to have ended up doing something I love without much of an idea how I got here and the nagging fear that if I went back and told the 16 year old me how it would play out if he wouldn’t have run in the other direction!

Why share this?

As you will know if you’ve read some of the other posts, I am currently in the process of finishing a Masters degree and am completing a research project. It involves interviewing senior business people about their achievements as Corporate Entrepreneurs.

So far I have completed one interview, with a guy who used to work for one of the largest retailers in the world (you won’t have to think hard to work it out). It was a nerve racking but seriously enjoyable interview which ended up (probably against protocol) being more a conversation. This guy had done some fascinating things, in circumstances which were probably the antithesis of standard corporate operations for the specific and many other corporations. What was really surprising was his comment at the end, “it’s been really interesting taking the time to reflect and explore this stuff”

Since then I have spoken to several more of my “recruits” and there seems to be a theme emerging on how much people are looking forward to reflecting on their careers and not just over a beer. It seems many of them have charged through their careers with a great deal of momentum but not much direction and being able to have an agenda-less conversation with someone (who isn’t trying to lead them, manage them or recruit them) seems to really appeal.

Personal reflection is a whole other subject and I wouldn’t want to be seen as advocating a session of navel gazing but if there is a take home from this post then it’s don’t wait to be recruited for a Masters project to reflect on your career. You may be amazed at how enjoyable it is and you never know it could inform your future decisions…

Now where did I leave that white coat?



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4 responses to “The one where its about reflection

  1. Jules

    Thank god you didnt know what you wanted to do.
    When I was about 20/21 and I had my first L&D role my boss who was only 26 at the time kept nagging at me to have a 5 year plan and how could I not know what I wanted to do or be this was not something that she could comprehend.
    Later at about 24 I gopt some advice from our Ops Director who found out at the time I was supposed to be leaving and went out of his way to help me try and find something. He told me that so long as I had an end goal in mind then how I got to it didn’t matter that would just happen and i’d soon know what the next steps would be.
    I found these words wise and reasuring lets hope the step has been the right one and in 6 months I turn round and think yup this is going how I want.

  2. Flora Marriott

    Second try!
    Rob, what struck a chord with me was your advice about getting on with finding opportunities to reflect on your career. As you say, personal reflection is a whole other subject, but it is interesting that lots of us struggle to make the time for it, when actually it is easy enough to find ways to do it. A couple of years ago I read the book ‘Managing’ by Henry Mintzberg (wonderful wonderful book), and he has a superb quote on this theme. I haven’t got the book in front of my just now, but the sentence goes something like this:

    “effective managers work out ways to reflect, in a job that actively discourages reflection”.

  3. Oli


    What a superb idea, my career has taken a somewhat alternative route over the last two years to where I’d thought I’d be now.

    I shall respond in kind with a blog of my own (when its finally up and working). Thank you for the idea.

  4. Pingback: A reflective Career |

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