Last Friday morning at 9am I found myself sitting in a room in London Bridge staring down in wonder at a little purple booklet. One little purple booklet that was happily staring back and loudly and proudly informing me of one startlingly interesting fact: '10,000 days - the length of your working life.'
In an instant I'm swiftly reminded of exactly why I'm there and what I'm seeking to achieve in the days ahead of me, because to me 10,000 days sounds like a lot! Valuable time that I don't want to be wasting.
So no I'm not going crazy as I write about little talking purple booklets but I am instead going to give you the lowdown on a very interesting 'Career Clarifying' course that I recently participated in with London based company Eyes Wide Opened or EWO as they are also known.
Situated at their London Bridge HQ on Borough High Street this was two days of personal investigation and learning aimed at helping us as participants to open up about, amongst other things, our skills, passions and values to build a clearer picture of who we are and where we may wish to direct our future career ambitions. Helping to give us the energy and practical guidance towards a future in the ever challenging and all consuming world of work. To find something that will hopefully fulfill and inspire us in the longer term.
The course doesn't purport to give you all of the immediate answers, the work and ideas have to start and ultimately end with you. However through a series of well structured and rather unique exercises, both one to one and within the group, you're given tools that can help you to develop new ideas and see yourself and your abilities in a fresh light. It's with this that a plan of action starts to appear and you begin to think a bit differently about how you might approach things going forward.
WHAT'S IT REALLY ALL ABOUT?
Designed to reach out effectively to all age groups and for people at varying stages of their lives and careers there is something within this course for everyone.
I personally chose to do this because I had just started this blog and felt I was taking some rather frightening risks in my working life by making a few fundamental changes to the path that I had previously been following. I suppose for me it was about finding clarification and inspiration on the new route that I had already begun to embark upon. However for others, graduates and seasoned professionals alike, it was truly about looking for something new, a real desire for change and all about finding their inspiration.
On the days that I attended there were five of us taking the course and pretty much five tutors or mentors on hand the entire time. This meant you were never short of someone to talk to and run ideas off of making for a nicely balanced working environment.
On day one you spend the greater part of your time basically getting everything out. Everything about yourself, your passions, your skills and your previous life and career experiences. You're guided through a series of tasks that help you to do this effectively and spend your time making notes on everything and anything that you can think of - because somewhere amongst all of that exploration may just lie the key to what you're going to do next! Be prepared to get creative too as you endeavour to create your own living landscape and visually express yourself, your CV and what you're gearing towards on paper. Not as scary as it might sound, just a more individual and distinctive way to look at your attributes and where they might take you. Better than the traditional and often stuffy curriculum vitae.
If the thought of bearing all sounds a little frightening don't worry. Firstly this isn't about breaking you down emotionally, it's a professional and practical approach to your career. Secondly should some of the topics happen to dig down a little deeper than anticipated, which one area unexpectedly did for me, then you're in a safe and productive environment. Yes I did have a little 'moment' but no-one judged, no big deal was made and everyone was kind enough to let it pass just as quickly as it emerged without making me feel anything negative. So I share that experience with you as readers in the hope that it may quash any fears you might have about the exploration side of the course. It's a very productive and eye opening day!
Day two is all about focus, taking everything from the previous day and honing it down into some real and tangible specifics. In the group you share experiences, ideas and perhaps even contacts that you have that could help your fellow course mate on their own journey. Hopefully you come away with an action plan and a sense of where to go and what to do next.
We were also very lucky to take part in a short workshop on day two entitled 'Listening for your energy' with guest tutor Richard Mullender. Richard a former hostage negotiator with Scotland Yard entertained, intrigued and enthused us in equal measure as we spent an hour in his company learning the true art of listening. Trust me real listening is not as easy as you might think but learning more about the skill from Richard was insightful, surprising and truly fascinating.
I don't want to spoil it completely by outlining everything in too much detail. I think the anticipation of what you're going to experience should you ever chose to attend is important, but I hope that the above gives you a little insight.
I believe I'm still absorbing everything from those two days even now - four days after the event.
The one key thing that I learnt is that for me at this stage of my life and career it is about reframing my thoughts and beliefs. Not changing them, not changing who I am but embracing what makes me, me and using that more effectively and I guess more wisely. I've come away with more courage and conviction and I really hope that I can carry that through into my future work on this blog and everything else that I have planned!
I also met some really great people. It was just as interesting and as much of a pleasure to watch others on the course unravel their thoughts and expectations and follow them on their journey too. Contributing, hopefully helping where possible and just making friendships and connections with some really interesting people.
If any of this stands out to you and appeals to where you currently find yourself in your own working life then I recommend getting in touch with EWO and checking out what they have on offer. As with all courses of such an exploratory nature what you get out of it is as much down to you and what you're willing to unfold as it is the course itself, but this is a great starting point if you are willing to take that step and take a deeper look at just what you might be able to achieve.
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