When people come to me for advice they often begin their session by telling me that they know what they want to do with their career, however, the strange thing is that, nine times out of ten, they almost never really know why they want it.

Let’s take a ticket conductor on an intercity train… Imagine that they love their job and imagine that they know why they love it – well, if we were to ask them why they love it, then logically, the answer should come out something like this:

“I love my job, I love being surrounded by people; I like helping them, giving advice as to what time or on what platform a connecting train leaves. I like the study that the job entails; learning the timetables and other important information. I like helping distressed people who have missed their stop or find themselves on the wrong train. I like making sure that everyone gets on and off safely and that we are ready to leave the station on time. And I like to make sure that the isles in the carriages are kept clear. I like taking the pressure off the driver for all the logistical matters so that she can focus on driving the train. I like knowing that, without me, the train cannot run and that the passengers will not reach their destination. In short, I like the responsibility my job entails and I like the feeling of being needed. Oh yes and I quite like checking the tickets and making sure everyone has paid and is sitting in the correct compartment”.   

Tonight I have been watching the UK version of ‘The Voice’. The hopes and dreams and aspirations of the singers desperately wanting something more than they possibly are capable of delivering is heart breaking. To see the not chosen standing on the stage like lost children with nowhere to go and to contrast them with the selected few who are shaking with relief, scared and yet happy to face what is in front of them – knowing too that they are only through to the next round. It’s real life drama but amplified and turned into entertainment. I wonder if you were to ask them why they were on that stage and not at home watching – what their reasons would be. But in fact, that is what that program is good at – it quickly takes the viewer down the road of understanding why the contestant want to be there and it is that understanding that makes the whole experience so powerful.

I believe that because so many of us spend so much of our lives blindly trying to fit our dreams into line with our ambitions of youth, or even of those that our loved ones and influencers, that when we find ourselves questioning the road we are on – we discover that it is hard to re connect with the deep emotions inside us that once upon a time we instinctively understood. Even harder can be admitting to ourselves, and to others, just why we really want the things that are not yet in our grasp.

It’s been a long day, I have had to face the emotions of experienced professionals facing disappointment and frustration, and I have listened with interest to the clear ambitions of a young man with so much to discover and learn. I found myself testing the strength of conviction of a professional who has finally discovered what he hopes is a new path forward in his career. And all this while my trusty IT systems have been restored and rebuilt after a momentous crash.

It’s late – maybe in the morning, I’ll have a new topic for this blog but for now and for those of us who find ourselves standing on solid ground, we need to be there for those who find themselves questioning the things they once took for granted.

Have a good week,