As I continued trying to suppress these fears, I tried some self-introspection; questioning and pondered what to do with myself and about my disquiet. ‘What next for me? What else could I do? Teach? With my kind of African temperament, I knew teaching would land me in some trouble soon enough, so wasn’t an option. Moreover, it would create a huge disparity in income that simply wasn’t worth it unless I was certain that I could be passionate about teaching. With the prevalent culture of rudeness and unruliness among many British school children, I could never be passionate in such a setting. What was I really passionate about in life? Was I prepared to be a slave to work routine for the rest of my productive life? If not, what steps then was I prepared to take to escape the ficklenessof corporate-dom? How much did I value the freedom to be who and what I yearned to be and to express myself in a way that reflected my person and which represented my genuine essence.Was it even possible to carve out some sort of vocation that could afford me that kind of scope and freedom?
I knew that any subsequent actions I took would be determined by the sincerity of my answers to these soul-searching questions. During this period ofreflection, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t really want a new career. I just wanted the freedom to pursue whatever defined me best and whatever I could be passionate about instead of continuing with what I had allowed years of regimented thinking to impose upon me. This seemed like ‘la-la’ on a grand scale. Everyone wanted this! But real life constraints often didn’t permit one such privileges. Maybe for the lucky few but certainly not the majority. The problem was I hadn’t yet discovered an alternative passion to replace my career. Part of me was ‘scared’ to edge out of my now uncomfortable ‘comfort zone’ which felt like being stuck in a rut till I probably dropped from burn-out, sheer misery or old age. The other part of me felt I owed it to myself to follow the deeper stirrings of my heart by seeking a new path or new challenge. This would probably involve a steep learning curve for me. Did I have the mental grit and determination at this point in my life? Was I brave enough and anyway it still didn’t answer the question of what to do with myself. I hadn’t come up with anything tangible so far.
I kept a journal of the constant questions that were twirling around in my head and studiously jotted down my thoughts. I used these as a basis for creating mind maps to help me work out some priorities as I became more convinced of the inevitable – which was, that I needed to embrace a new path. I even attempted some ‘bold’ steps in the process (I guess to convince myself that I was serious)! One of my many ‘bold’ steps was to plan a relocation back to Nigeria. Having spent 11years of my life growing up in Nigeria, I felt sufficiently nostalgic to imagine I could just pack up one day and blend back within its set up and life would be blissful thereafter. Remember, I mentioned earlier on about my tendency sometimes to do the most impractical things with the kind of self-assurance and aplomb that sometimes made even my own shadow ashamed to be associated with me.I reasoned that with my extensive years of experience working for high-profile organisations, I could with a bit of luck, secure a choice role and that would be the long sought solution!
I had friends and colleagues who had succeeded in doing this in the past and at the time I genuinely believed this would offer me the best of both worlds i.e provide me the change I thought I needed and also the opportunity to become re-acquainted with my beloved, albeit often cantankerous country of origin. I spent months exploring the prospect, renewing old contacts and establishing new ones over the course of multiple trips to Nigeria during that period. My frequent trips meant constant absences from work which understandably didn’t sit well with some of my clients as my absences affected crucial deadlines that were reliant on me to manage through to the agreed timelines. At first, there were a few promising developments which eventually didn’t amount to anything,muchto my disappointment at the time. I even managed to secure an interview with a prestigious energy firm which was my first ever experience of being interviewed in a Nigerian corporate setting. The account of that experience is for another day perhaps but suffice to say that having spent the past 19 years securing every one of my many assignments purely on the merit of interviews I was successful at, I can confidently state that I do very well at interviews almost all of the time and time after time been very encouraged by the excellent feedback when I do attend interviews that have been secured absolutely on merit a I have no rich parents here in the UK to pull any strings for me in this rather competitive UK market. There, I said it!
So, it was a shock to learn that the feedback from the only interview I had ever attended in Nigeria was that my experience was too theoretical! I was so affronted and filled with indignation at the time. The absolute nerve of some people I thought! What did they think I had spent so many years doing as a consultant in the UK which arguably offers some of the best,best-practice methods and standards in the world? I had gained some of the very best exposure in my field of work and also led and developed some of those standards in that capacity. I was very proud not only to defend my experience but to competently talk through every single corporate programme or project I had ever worked on over the past umpteen years!Anyway, that outcome really rattled me as you can gauge from my writing tone and I just decided that we can’t all speak the same language in a room of professionals sizing you up and coming to their own objective or subjective conclusions about you and that was that.I realise I still had a lot to learn about my country Nigeria and the way things worked or didn’t work and I was already having my reservations. Anyway, thank God, I realise now that everything I had construed as failure in relation to my attempts at relocation then was actually a blessing in disguise.
After a whole year of trying to make some headway with my ‘lofty’ relocation plans, I abandoned the idea as I decided it was unwise to continue devoting my energies to a process that would ultimately present me with the same restrictions I was trying to wriggle out of here in the UK. I remember on return from one of my several trips to Nigeria, I was back at work in London and over lunch, I narrated some of my experiences to a close colleague. He listened patiently to my rather animated explanations and after I had spent myself gesticulating through my various experiences, conveyed to me his opinion that I would be making a big mistake to take up employment in Nigeria because from all indications, I wasn’t cut out for the restrictions of a regular work routine and that I would most probably find it hard to conform; which would in turn make me unhappy. He then reminded me that if working freelance in the UK with all the flexibility it offered had not succeeded in keeping me motivated why I thought having a job in Nigeria would be different? This conversation happened to be one of the several light bulb moments that finally prompted me to completely overhaul my thinking and drag me back to the drawing board.
Confusion Before Clarity
So I was back to square one over the next months; faced with the dilemma of not knowing what I was going to do. I had lost interest in any form of conventional work routine, though I continued to go through the motions of ‘normal ’work routine even as everything within me silently screamed that there was nothing normal about robotically doing the same thing over and over again when it was clear one derived no pleasure enjoy doing it! In order to pacify my disquiet, I became more solitary in order to find ample mental space to ponder to my heart’s content. I was definitely not depressed but felt that my self-imposed semi-isolation was absolutely necessary to enable a total rethink. Life’s daily frivolities had got in the way of my ability to have any sense of clarity about crucial stuff and I needed space from the noise, life clutter and all its distractions. I now sought to do less rather than more in my spare time.
It was at this time that I picked up the habit of going on long walk; early in the morning, at weekends and even on late evenings during the week. These walks were of great benefit to me as they served a far greater purpose than expected; proving very conducive for clear-headed thinking, filling me with bursts of inspiration, creative thinking and of course giving me a much needed opportunity to burn a few calories and reduce some girth. I grew more attuned and filled with a deep sense of the ‘bigger picture’ and a certainty about the harmony of life persisting even in the midst of perceived disorder or chaos. Sounds a bit deep but it made such sense to me and that in itself gave me tremendous sense of calm and focus. I would walk for miles and then cool off by sitting in one of the quiet parks around my neighbourhood to read, observe the beautiful surroundings or just absorb myself in thought.
I began to realise how much I missed the simpler things of life that I so often took for granted in the midst of the stressful hustle of daily life. I grew more observant of nature’s beauty and harmony all around me and I often became lost in the awe of things which my now observant eye picked up. Things I would probably never have noticed on a typical rush day commute to and from work. I would return from these walks, completely refreshed and looking forward to my next walk which I now regarded and cherished as my ‘Me’ time It was during this period that I firmly decided to pursue a completely different path for myself. I had a deep sense of conviction from this point onwards and everything I did subsequently was focused on the decisions I made.
Finding A New Path And Purpose
Now, this is part of my transition journey. Indeed it is a part of life’s default script that even in the midst of our successes and our failures, the most and least fortunate of us all each have a story to tell. Many of these stories fraught with trials, challenges, setbacks, disappointments, sufferings and ultimately and hopefully some light at the end of whatever tunnel confronts us. In this regard, life becomes an apt teacher and a mentor, yet ironically can also be destructive. So, interwoven into this new path is my story and my journey as I have experienced it on my own personal life trail. The experiences that make me who I am today, not necessarily outwardly but in an inner sense. The qualities, traits, flaws and failings that constitute for me both a challenge and a triumph and which I try to adaptin order to to test out some of my further aspirations. As a consultant, I had spent years developing and enabling corporate clients and organisations to fulfil their corporate vision and goals. All this was time spent at the expense of my own personal aspirations and vision though I must be honest in saying that I never quite had a crystallised idea of what these were. I understand perfectly now why I literally came to the point of what could only be described as a burn-out. I had channelled my mental energies for so long in a direction that was contrary to the real ‘Me’ within Meand I had relegated the authentic me in that process. Though my burn-out wasn’t health related, the impact was still significant and I knew it could no longer be business as usual for me.
Prior to this time, I hadn’t ever taken time to seriously consider what my personal vision was. I had assumed that a fulfilling career was the ultimate. It wasn’t until my sobering up phase that I realised I too needed to cultivate my own vision and then nurture it. That was the only way I would have a sense of long-term purpose and it wasn’t all about how much I could earn. For some people their career forms their personal vision. In my own case, my career and the constraints that came with it created a clear incompatibility with my own personal path and self-purpose. Money never has and never will be my driving inspiration for anything I do but I could equally see myself generating lucrative income from something I was passionate about. Passion by itself has force, energy and momentum of its own. If positively channelled, passion has enormous creative capacity. It also has destructive capacity if negatively channelled and we see much evidence of this all around us on a daily and persistent basis.
I love a good challenge. The challenge to accomplish, to achieve, to remain inspired and to discover new possibilities. For me, this became my challenge. Could I make a successful transition after nineteen years of being a white collar professional, to establishing a successful online presence with an authentic voice? Only time and my commitment will tell! I am not scared of failing, I am only scared of confining myself to boundaries that don’t reflect my person and purpose. I drew much inspiration from thestories of many who once upon a time had come to a cross-roads phase in their lives and had done something with and through that experience. Could my path and my story perhaps offer some inspiration and encouragement to many who felt stifled by their current life set up and who perhaps yearned to break free in order to make way for something more purposeful and rewarding that awaited anyone brave enough to take up the challenge?Perhaps, there are many of such who yearn for change but who can’t work out how and where to start off due to self-doubt or fear of the unknown which are all legitimate and perfectly understandable in the money-driven economy thatto one degree or other we are all constrained by.
I decided from the outset that I would instead narrate my journey towards achieving whatever I now felt was ahead of me to accomplish as a goal, a vision or an aspiration. It would be a journey chronicling the real-life set-backs and frustrations associated with learning the mastery of a new pursuit. I wanted it to be as honest and as realistic a portrayal of my experience as possible. I’ve felt compelled to take a break from my consultancy work in order to give me the time and space to focus on my new exploit. Of course I realise that I would have to return to some form of interim assignment at some point but that would solely be with a different mind-set which was a gradual weaning off the need to work and earn my keep as a full-fledged consultant. Once, I made these decisions, I grew quite excited at the prospect of knowing for the first time in a long time just what I needed to focus on and even the prospect of reduced income couldn’t faze me so long as I felt I was following my heart’s yearnings. I’d had enough of trying to balance the demands of a high stress role with every other life demand. This time I would take a different approach and just focus on the one thing which in itself was and is quite time consuming. I was fed up of going around in confusing circles and being pulled in divergent directions only to end up frazzled, harassed and even more confused! I now needed to determine for myself what success looked like to me, within the context of the vision I set for myself in this new endeavour.
That vision partly informs the inspirationfor this site which I have fondly come to regard as a home of sorts for me. For years, many of my personal friends and even colleagues who came to know me in the course of our working togetherwould often encourage me to take up writing as a vocation. I never contemplated or took these suggestions serious for the simple reason that with a demanding work schedule, I didn’t feel I would ever have the time to spare for that kind of commitment or dedication. I felt I worked too hard in my professional role to take on the additional hard work of writing in my spare time. That was until now. Over the course of my career span, I’ve literally authored hundreds of corporate strategy documents for the organisations I provide my services to. These documents have to a significant extent,often provided the basis for determining the strategic direction of these organisations. Having spent so many years writing for theselarge establishments about their vision,expansion goals and strategies etc, it seemed appropriate that at some point, I should also write about things that reflected my own interests. Human, social, and topical interest issues for example,that affected the lives of people in a more direct way, instead of focusing on theoften impersonal and detached concerns of big business and which was often far removed from the realities of everyday experience for many.
I have a rather blunt and outspoken temperament and I am unapologetically passionate about things and issues that are dear to my heart. I can be quite undaunted in the way I express myself. At work, I would often be the one who was bold enough to express opinions that other colleagues particularly my white colleagues would be unwilling to express for fear of being labelledin one way or other. The UK has become a nation muzzled by political correctness where those with non-mainstream points of view are regarded as the social lepers and outcasts of our time. So much for freedom of speech. Politically correct attitudes and the deceptions propagated by them have been hyped to levels that sometimes make me want to puke; apologies for the rather graphic reference. There is an adage which states that if you hear a lie often enough, you begin to believe the lie. I see, read and hear it in the media every single day. Skilful manipulation of our perceptions by the biases of those with the power of pen and voice. It’s the nature and character of the modern world we live in today, one of hype and hyperbole.
So, my personal charter of sincerity (or as much of it as I can muster) is that I refuse to be politically correct on anything (well, almost anything), though I think that for the sake of social peace and cohesion, some degree of political correctness is almost unavoidable in the sort of society we live in today. But on the whole, I am no adherent of the politically correct social trend that has the mainstream masses under its grip. This frequently puts me on polar opposites with more populist opinion. I try to be as honest as possible in the way I represent what I know or believe to be fact. But representing a point of view or opinion can be quite tricky because people tend to be easily prone to offence in this part of the world. I am sometimes guilty of that too but we all need to lighten up.We take ourselves and others too seriously! I absolutely believe that people’s right to their views and opinions cannot and should not be policed, however odious. I was given a good education in order to enhance my ability to think and opine independently and to hold my own in that regard. The purpose of my education was not to give any person, government or movement, the right to smother my ability to think for myself or to repress my right to a belief or conviction however far-winged the mainstream might consider it was.
However mistaken we might be in our viewpoints, a viewpoint demonstrates the most honest thing about us, whether good or bad, or right or wrong. I champion the right of people to hold and to express their viewpoints without fear of being labelled or pilloried. People on either side of the divide may be won over by respectful debate, compromise, and negotiation and if all failsand they can’t be won over, so be it. That’s life; win some lose some. These were some of the reasons that prompted my decision to break free of the corporate noose and allow myself to be free to be me. Hearts and minds are not won over by telling people what to believe, how to believe it and when to believe. I equally respect the right to change my views if presented with reasons or alternate positons of thought that I eventually conclude are superior to mine.
Freedom to express of course should never be construed as a justification for violence. Just for the benefit of anyone reading, violence for me does not include child smacking! I am constantly amazed and incensed at the bleating of so-called experts in the media who advocate the outlawing of smacking, claiming it as a form of abuse! I am against abuse towards anyone full stop but smacking a child in my opinion can never be construed as that, but that’s a topic for another day. Clobbering a child or anyone is of course a different matter and sadly we hear news of such happening every day. I watch some of the vile programmes that are put out on TV for kids to watch; foul language, gratuitous violence and often explicit sexual imagery shown even before the watershed. Now, that to me, more than smacking, constitutes child abuse and no one bats an eyelid. But smackyour child in public and some ignorant expert gets the hump over it orit gets debated in Parliament! That’s the sort of political correctness we’re afflicted by nowadays. I could go on but that’s not for today.
In trying to come to a deeper self-understanding, one of the commitments I made to myself during my reflection phase was that from this point onwards, my life choices and my direction would revolve around my passion, my purpose and my vision (PPV). Everyone has a passion, a purpose and a vision, but not everyone takes the time to articulate theirs because we often tend to embrace life and its milestones in an absent-minded sort of way; while the really important considerations tend to get side-lined in the process of trying to live life. After my decision to gradually wean myself off consultancy work, I spent a lot of solitary time thinking through the whole passion and purpose thing and defined my next phase of life goals around these. These aspirations define my person and my outlook and must become an integral part of any future endeavours I undertake. This for me is what makes life interesting! The freedom to be and to speak from the perspective of honesty towards my social, political and personal convictions, remains one of the prevailing reasons for deciding to turn my back on corporate-dom and the impersonality of its whole set up. From that point onwards I desired only to invest myself in pursuits that resonated with my passion, purpose and vision.
With this site, I wanted a platform that allowed me the freedom to express from the heart and not just from the intellect or from the basis of popular opinion. Each of us has a voice and are entitled to use it where we feel the need to do so. So, I developed a site concept that would enable me do this and at the same time provide a platform that was relevant to the needs of people with similar yearnings and a passion just like mine. I also wanted to share my journey and my transition in a way that could perhaps encourage other of like mind to seize the opportunity to embark on new paths of purpose or to embrace new challenges. I will be writing about this in subsequent updates. I chose the online niche as one of my specific areas of interest because of the flexibility it provides which is vital to me. I need flexibility to pursue other interests that were things I really loved doing, yet had been forced to take secondary place in order to accommodate my stress-filled occupation! More leisurely activities like writing, reading, travelling and spending quality time doing things dear to my heart had to be part of the rationale for craving change.My transition is a journey from occupation to vocation and being as honest as I can be about the challenges that confront me as part of the process. As I wrote earlier. I am not afraid to fail or to change my mind in the event that I discover that I was under a misconception and if I do, you’ll be the first to know! What I am really afraid of is living passively and complacently without finding my passion or my purpose and not following through just because I need to maintain the status quo of earning an income doing something that no longer serves my deeper needs as a rational thinking and feeling being.
So, my promise to myself is to do and be more of that which suits the ‘Me’ in me; focus on a vocation that I can be totally passionate about and be immersedin it without feeling burdened or stifled. Life is not scripted and neither am I. I refuse to be pigeon-holed, so don’t expect that of anything I do or express. Be assured that when I express, I do so from a place of authenticity, of love and absolutely no intent of malice or offence. I try always to live by the creed to honour all men (and women), but that does not mean having a timid voice or no voice and it certainly does not mean being politically correct! I probably have bored you somewhat, but apologies if I have done so with all my spill! I tend to write as I think and feel which can often be quite a floodgate! I am still finding a writing style that’s more balanced for a reading audience so do bear with me as I try to adjust. Watch out for my next piece which chronicles the earlier phases of my life and my experiences. In the meantime my team and I will continue to update the site as we put more plans into effect over time.
Do drop me a line if you’d like to. I’d be really glad to hear from you. Feel free to also visit my sister site at www.HolisticHealthRocks.com and discover another aspect of my inspiration.
Thanks for visiting!
From my heart to yours always,
Kobi Emmanuella-King Back