A year ago today I felt like I had encountered a second stage of development in my life.
That isn’t the time that I thought I had started the second stage in my life, it was just the time that I ‘identified’ that I had entered it. I’d actually begun the second stage over a year before then.
Why did I think I was in a second stage of development? Well I think it may have started with a book called The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt.
I stumbled across this book somehow and it really spoke to me. It’s a ‘business novel’ which follows characters trying, and succeeding, to turn around a failing factory. This book inspired me because I felt like the characters were relatable and the way they approached and overcame their challenges made sense to me, even though I wouldn’t have necessarily been able to figure them out myself.
I’d actually spent some time before then thinking of ways I could improve myself, so a lot of things built up to it, but this book really gave me the motivation I needed to see that you could improve another way, not just with fancy courses and qualifications.
From that point on I dove deeper into the world of business novels like The Goal as well as non-fiction books for self improvement. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad which is another incredibly motivating book. It shows that you can choose how you react to the world and your reactions have more impact on the way your life goes than what actually happens.
I began spending more time working on improving one of my key skills, using Microsoft Excel, and found myself becoming better known within the company I was working at. Although developing these skills wasn’t earning me anything to begin with, I continued on that path sure that it would pay off eventually. At some point I had asked enough of the right people the right questions that someone with a relevant vacancy on their team noticed me and asked if I would like to apply. Shortly after that I got the job and moved from the warehouse into the office, my first step towards success and the ticket I had been hoping for that validated all the actions I had been taking.
After that I was hooked.
I worked hard and made incremental improvements to everything I worked on. I simplified reports that had been long-winded and difficult to use before. I didn’t worry too much about getting credit because everything I did was improving my skills.
Eventually I was contacted from outside the company and brought in for interviews for a new role, which I took.
In the beginning the step up in work was particularly gruelling and for a while I worried I had made a mistake, but I was learning a very valuable lesson. When you push through something really hard, something that tests you to the limit of your capabilities, your limits are stretched and eventually, after all the struggling, things become easier for you.
This was not an overnight lesson, I probably spent about 4 months feeling overwhelmed, overworked and under-qualified. Through perseverance I eventually overcame the struggles and after 9 months I even felt like I had completely surpassed the level of skill I needed for the role I was working in. That didn’t mean a promotion unfortunately, nor even a bonus. It hadn’t only been gruelling because of my inexperience, it had been gruelling because it was just that kind of work environment.
When I tried to move up internally, it was met with resistance and excuses. I felt like the skills I had developed were going to waste, the work was no longer a challenge and had become just a dull routine. My second stage of development (which I didn’t even notice I was in at that time), was slowing down.
I shifted my attention from internal progression to external and began searching the market myself rather than waiting for a recruiter to come along and save me. Some great opportunities came along, one that was possibly way above my capabilities at the time although when I think back to it now, I could probably have stretched myself to meet it. But the opportunity I did take has really turned out to be the ideal one.
I’m still working in that role and have been for over a year and a half now. It hasn’t got boring yet, partially because of the people I work with and partially because it seems the better I do, the more freedom I’m given to do it, which is exactly what I wanted. It was during this role that I felt like I had entered this ‘second stage of development’, or to put it more crudely, a second puberty.
Now when I look back, I’m not sure if I see it as a second stage any more, because that implies that it’s not permanent, and I rather hope it is. With everything I have learnt and read in that time, I feel more like it wasn’t a stage, but a change, a change in mindset.
I took control of my life and my choices and unlocked my inner potential. I developed a lot and grew a lot and things did slow down, but I’m going to ramp them up again and keep on doing it, because the person I am today is more successful, more confident, more satisfied, than any other period in my life including childhood, and I’m willing to push myself to keep that going.