It’s almost a year since I set up my company Blend Associates Ltd. So whilst I’m not one for Christmas newsletters it seems right to do a little stock take. Those of you who have followed me on twitter and read my blogs will know it has been a bit of a roller coaster. Life’s thrown curve balls my way and I’ve tried to be strong and bold and hold my nerve.
I’m known by many for my dispassionate logic and reason, but I’m also marked by my passion and courage (some say bloody mindedness!) I have needed to engage with these qualities to identify who I am, what would I do, and how on earth do I make a living going forward.
When I was leaving the NHS some key confidants helped me think beyond the loss of career and making a difference on the inside of the public sector to the opportunities that lay beyond. Well, didn’t get that one straight away! I was in the maelstrom of self-pity, despair and worry and I felt at times vulnerable.
What I now had in buckets was time. So, I started to think on what I had covered in my career. Not the stuff you have to do to deliver your job and meet your targets but the stuff that energised. The stuff where I felt I made a difference to patients, their families and the wider public service offer to the tax payers. A few key words kept coming through –Big plans, passion for people, make a difference, intolerant of less, equality, connection, energy.
One day my hubby said BLEND. In cooking you take individual ingredients, BLEND to make something better. So it is with wine and paint colours and pigments. I sat with it a few days and thought yes it sums me up. BLEND it was, and I turned my attention to what the company would offer and three words came to mind:
STRATEGY looking ahead and moving forward, the big plan in conditions of uncertainty or inertia. Looking left, looking right, challenge the status quote. I bring clarity about why we are here, where we are going and who we are here for.
INTEGRATE combining things to complete them, sitting at the edge of organisations, bringing disparate groups together, ensuring all have a voice, not just the big guys. If we integrate anything it takes huge effort so it’s got to make what we offer better and make sense to the patients and their families.
COACHING this one is about reaching out, being with the leader, helping them find their way like many others have coached and counselled me. I realised I love people, I’m fascinated by them, and what makes them tick. Giving them the space to think, and if they want to learn they will find a better way.
One day I Google, looking for quotes and there I found him and this:
” The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic towards common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of bold projects and new ideas. Rather, it will belong to those who can BLEND passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to their ideals.” Robert F Kennedy 64th US Attorney General.
If you were born in the 60s like me, you are unlikely to know of him, he was the younger brother of JFK and his right hand man in the West Wing. The strategist, the reformer, passionate about civil rights and friend of Martin Luther King. Straight talking, spoke his mind, offended some with his record for cleaning up organised crime…..Then elected New York Senator oh and they shot him on his own Presidential run.
This sort of courage passion and reason are vital if we want to see real, sustainable, people based change to our public services. So, here I am a year on now I run my own company offering strategy, coaching and business consultancy to both the public and private sector. I have had a number of great commissions and across the range of my interests too. This past 6 months I have worked to support CEOs, Boards and national organisations. In areas including board diversity, mental health, learning disability and personalization. I have also just been appointed as a non-executive director of my local community trust. So this girls back on a board. And I submitted my ILM level 7 Executive Coaching Dissertation to OPM in November. So I might just get a certificate in the New Year!
What have I learnt? Doors swing both ways. Some do close and others really do open. Some of the new rooms are also better than those you left! Be strong – even if today feels tough it will be better tomorrow. Be bold – step out, reach up and aim high. Be big – present yourself to the world based on what you can offer not what you are doing today. Be creative – try new things and talk to lots of different people. Most of all Be authentic and take enough time to Be still and have faith – in what you believe in, in yourself and your ability and in those who say you will be ok. This Christmas cheers to all of you my customers, fellow consultants and all who have helped me this last year. Let’s look forward together to 2015. One thing I didn’t anticipate in 2014 I now work with a guy who makes the best cricket bats so #putoutyourbats.