On a hot humid night in 1981 I had come to the end of a two year posting in Hong Kong and I was now boarding the plane to take me home. I’d had a good two years, but I felt could have been more perhaps I could have even done more. I was a Corporal in the British Army after eight years but I wasn’t a Sergeant yet! A long term relationship had come to an end and now I wanted something more, perhaps to get married and have children (two daughters would be good!). Lots to ponder on my 16 hour flight back to the UK.
The previous six months I had spent some time reflecting about the type of man I wanted to be, both in my professional life and my personal life. Taking off from Kia Tak Airport, skimming the skyscrapers of Kowloon then crossing into China, I sat back in my seat and started to plan. I was going to reinvent myself.
2014 celebrating my 30th Wedding Anniversary in Whitby on the North East Coast of England I turned to my wife Joyce and thanked her for making me the man I always wanted to be. Joyce’s response? “Good! Now for Phase 2 – making you into the man I want you to be!!” (Apparently there is Phase 3 – the Exam!) Another Reinvention on the cards…….
My life so far has been a series of reinventions:
- At 15 delivering carpets and beds in my home town, then joining the army as a boy soldier at 16; changing jobs and roles every 2 or 3 years from Northern Ireland to Hong Kong, from NATO Headquarters to a Commando Squadron
- Going from being a terrible footballer to becoming a good athlete and in between sports fitting in a year where I qualified as a Hang Glider Pilot
- Going from 24 years in the Army to a 20 year career in supporting adults with learning disabilities
- Becoming a Trainer in NVQs, Leadership, Project Management, Supporting people with Money – when previously I had a dread of standing in front of people.
- In 2015 becoming a volunteer for SSAFA as an ‘Independent Service Custody Visitor’ and a Mentor
- Starting a Blog!!
I love life. I want to be the best I can be and even as I approach 60 I still think my best years are ahead of me. So why do I feel the need to reinvent myself and how will it help me become the man Joyce wants me to be? Reinvention has worked for me:
- By stretching myself – early on I came to the realisation that only when I am really challenged am I at my best
- It keeps me fresh and motivated
- It gives you a competitive edge
- Because I like to surprise my Boss, My Organisation and My Family
- It helps me recover from setbacks, obstacles and events outside of my control
How do you go about Reinventing yourself? Here are my 5 Top Tips (based on my experience):
- Start Planning but don’t let the plan restrict you. Be prepared to take your life down different routes at a moment’s notice
- Seek out opportunities; don’t wait for them to come to you. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience with what you want to try, your hard work ethic will get you through
- Imagine! So Dream and Dream Big
- Seek out Role Models. Are they the people you want to be? What can you learn from them? Now do it.
- Relentless focus on your reinvention. Believe me it takes time, there will be temptations, and there will be distractions…. so you must focus on what you want to become.
So what is my next reinvention? Wait and see and keep following my blog to find out
‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”