“Do you have a day when everything changed for you?”
My friend Tara asked me this question over a Zoom coffee catch-up recently. There was a day earlier this year when so much changed for Tara. She did not realize it then. In some ways, this was a normal, run-of-the-mill day. But looking back on it, six months later, she realized that this was a day that marked the start of change to come. It was change that was much needed; change that has begun to usher in a new era in her life. She wanted to know if I had ever experienced anything like this.
I have had a few of these days but one resonated above the others as we talked.
I was walking across Battersea Bridge in London on my way home from work back in 2008. I enjoyed my role as a marketing manager in a fairly lively advertising agency, but I had recently been questioning whether it was really the right environment for me. As I walked across the bridge that evening, I thought to myself, “I am good at this job but I am not brilliant at it.” As I realized this, I knew in that moment, with a certainty that surprised me, and which came from deep within, that there was something else I could be truly brilliant at. I did not know what that thing was but I knew that this was not it.
This thought on a normal working day, over twelve years ago, was a moment where I realized something deeply important about myself. I would not have been able to express this at the time. The memory has supported me through these years as I have made career choices that I might not otherwise have taken. It was behind my decision to leave the advertising job a few months later and it still influences every significant career decision I take.
I knew in that moment, with a certainty that surprised me, and which came from deep within, that there was something else I could be truly brilliant at.
More recently, I have realized that I am finding the thing (or things) I can be brilliant at by consciously considering, 1) who I am, 2) what matters to me, and 3), making decisions to walk in these directions. When I consider my transformational “Battersea Bridge moment” in this way, I realize that it is not as much a future carrot-on-a-stick that I am chasing as something that I am already achieving. It is also something, I might suggest, that is achievable, not just by an elite group of people who consider themselves brilliant, but by us all.
Who are you? What matters to you? How can you best walk in those directions?