On my way back home on the last south west train from London, I was relaxing after a fulfilling day at work, when I was taught a lesson about career satisfaction and the importance of finding the right vocation in life.
You may think that I was taught this lesson by a fellow city traveller, such as a CEO or financier, maybe the conductor or train driver; having been in ‘the big smoke’ I could even have learned from a receptionist, a shop assistant, a hotelier or taxi driver but it was from none of these on this particular day.
Reading an article in the magazine ‘the Edge’, by the ILM, my concentration was interrupted as the refreshment trolley came into the carriage. The atmosphere immediately changed, the increase in noise was audible and I wondered what was happening.
As the refreshment trolley came nearer, a happy, jovial man asked, ‘Good evening Madam, would you like anything from the refreshment trolley?’
‘Yes please,’ I responded, ‘a tea would be perfect.’
‘Is that a G&T or a tea with milk?’ he joked, ‘and do you know that Gin is one of your 5-a-day!’ All the passengers around me laughed.
‘Would that be all?’ he asked.
‘No, actually I’d like a short bread’ I responded.
‘Well you wouldn’t want a long bread otherwise it’d be a loaf,’ he concluded. We all laughed again.
‘You’ve missed your vocation in life,’ I commented, ‘you’d be brilliant doing stand-up!’
‘Madam, what do you think I’m doing, if not standing up and making you laugh?’
He had a point. The 19:35 from London to Southampton would have been a great deal duller without his pithy humour.
Here was a man who loved his job. He did not see it as a job working for SWT serving refreshments, but a vocation to cheer up tired commuters after a long day in the city. He chose to make serving drinks and refreshments a joy and gained pleasure in making passengers smile. He was providing a valuable service and had a positive attitude toward his work and the customers he served.
To decide on our career and our attitude to it, can often be the changing factor as to whether we experience job satisfaction. Who knows, maybe in his previous job he had been a commuter and understood the pressures of a face paced life and wanted to make a difference!
Working with individuals who are re-evaluating their life and career direction is an absolute pleasure. I’ll never forget the senior journalist who had gained his degree and had been working as a news reporter for many years. He came to me for guidance; to gain some perspective and plan for his working life. His angst? He was creative and wanted to write science fiction but never had the time for his true passion, as he was always meeting deadlines on factual journalistic pieces. When he uncovered his new path, he beamed at me, I was slightly concerned, but he was thrilled. ‘I’ve always wanted to be a bus driver since I was a little boy,’ he said ‘this new direction allows me to spend my days thinking of what I will write at night and forge a hobby which I hope one day will be a career.’ I ought to look him up as this was many years ago. Then there was the lady who had fallen into being an administrator after leaving school in the sixties, having been told she wouldn’t amount to much. She desperately wanted to do something else, but sadly commented, ‘I haven’t trained to do anything else, and I’m in my late fifties, what can I possibly do now?’ Happily, she is now project manager for a large stately home and visitor attraction. This client loves meeting new people every day, being ‘out and about’ yet using her organisational ability to ensure everything runs smoothly.
When individuals assess their career path, sometimes they are that ‘square peg in a round hole’ but for others they find that it is not the position but the environment they dislike and by changing their sphere of search they find their ideal job. Maybe an unrelenting boss, a ‘bitchy office’, an uncertainty or a busy or claustrophobic environment affect how you perceive work.
Consider this: If no job is beneath you and no aspiration unrealistic, what would you choose to do?
Surely if YOU enjoy it isn’t that all that matters?
You may be forgiven for thinking the train experience was unique, but any job can be YOUR vocation. Don’t let snobbery, qualifications, location, time or age define your purpose, and certainly never let others affect the career choices you make.
Enthusiasm is infectious, no one is forcing you to do your current role. So, Change your circumstances, be true to yourself and make your life better today;
Your family, health and future depend on it.