What a difference a year makes

It’s been twelve months this week since I resigned from a job I held for almost nine years. I joined in my early twenties; long hair, a diamond earring arrogantly protuding from my left lobe, and a wardrobe of baggy jeans & t-shirts bearing band names just obscure enough to portray the image I was interesting.

What followed was a huge journey of learning, growth, self-assessment, and a period where I learned as much about people as I did the art of making radio. I made some great friends; friends for life who I’m honoured to keep in touch with, call on for advice or a favour, and share knowledge to further our respective careers.

I had some great bosses; my very first boss at this company has had a few shaky phone-calls from me over the years, and he always answered and gave me his time unconditionally, to which I’m very grateful. I had bosses whose styles clashed with mine and I didn’t understand how they operated; but as I’ve got older and matured, I’ve developed a greater understanding of their ways, and I respect them more now than I did then. Sometimes the right working relationship and the best advice and teachings can be right under your nose, but if you’re not on the same wavelength it’s just white noise. Luckily I’m still in touch with all these people, and I think they know that I would love to work with them again. I pored over decisions and practises from all my bosses; even if it was learning how not to do things.

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As time went on – nine years is a long time to stand still – the cracks and the imperfections start to show. People change, companies adapt, managers come and go, and nothing lasts forever. I made a few poor decisions over the years, put my foot in it once or twice, gave myself some things to regret.

So when I signed my resignation letter last year, I did so with a smile on my face. The time was right to make a change. In fact, the time to change was long overdue. In an ideal world it would have happened sooner, but I believe we are always maturing and adapting and learning, that never stops. So if my first day with a new company is a couple of years later than I would have liked, at least I can be confident that I’ve got another two years life experience under my belt when I walk in. It gave me a bit of time to shake off the last few dregs of youthful hotheadedness and braggadocio.

So in 2015, now in my thirties, I joined a radio group with completely different scenery – on both sides. (Thankfully my hair is conservative, the diamond earring was correctly expatriated to the back of a drawer many years ago, and the wardrobe of band t-shirts and baggy jeans superseded by smart trousers and enough shirts to open an outlet of M&S.) And things are great. I am delighted to work for an organisation who value me as an employee, as a person, where I feel valued, appreciated and encouraged every week. I have a boss who leaves me to get on with my job, but is always around when I need him and a CEO who is visible, friendly and a rock to everybody that needs her. My colleagues enjoy what they do, and respect each other.

I had a long conversation recently with a family member who changed jobs at the same time I did. She left a medium sized company – where she was appreciated, happy, and content – to join an international conglomerate, which fills her diary with meetings and conference calls, and throws accountability from one person to the other like it was kryptonite. She wants to leave. I selfishly smiled inwardly, knowing I’ve made the same step, but in the opposite direction. Meetings, calendar requests, brainstorms, conference calls, 1-2-1s, catch-ups, strategies and keynotes were part of my working week for so many years. There’s a lot to be said for letting people go to work, manage their own affairs, and – providing everyone’s working to the same objectives and guidelines – encourage them to just crack on with it, with gusto, initiative and confidence. I want to stay.

One year on, I am happier, wiser, fitter – thanks to starting a job in a city that requires a twelve mile bike ride every day – and I can look back on the last ten years with broad affection. I’m pleased I went to the meetings, accepted the calendar requests, brainstorms, conference calls, 1-2-1s, and catch-ups; it’s given me a greater appreciation for not having them. I’m appreciative of the mistakes I made, and to have dispelled the negativity and impetuousness I was prone to in my twenties. (I could have done with realising that sooner, truth be told). I’m pleased I shared lifts with my colleagues, went to the pub for lunch, put on weight, and chatted up the street team in clubs every weekend (albeit unsuccessfully). Without these experiences, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the fresh air on my bicycle each day, the enormous sense of wellbeing from taking a healthy lunch to work (and losing all that weight), or coming home to my girlfriend without any insecurities, worries, or bad dreams about my job and what was to follow the next day.

It’s taken me twelve months to get round to writing this blog; a year ago my previous experiences were too close to be viewed with perspective, and the new chapter was yet to reveal itself for what it is. A year goes very quickly when things are going well. I predict this one will go even quicker.

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