Work in progress…

IMG_0624-0So, there is a cool thing happening in the world of Twitter and blogging called #blimage which is where someone sends you an image and you use it as inspiration for your blog post. I need to thank the lovely Sheridan Webb for nominating me and you can see the picture she sent me at the top of this post and here is the link to Sheridan’s post.

Mine, well it is about swearing, second chances and the small things.

In a way this post also contributes to a second thread started by Tony Jackson (@JacksonT0ny) on ‘what shaped me’ His original post can be found here.

There are two things about that picture that stand out for me:

1) Despite the unfinished aspect of the room, it is still functional. If you wanted, you could take a bath and be clean(er) as a result.
2) That the attention to detail needed to complete it is huge, look for example at the tiny crosses separating the tiles and their presence is vital to the overall finish.

My view of my world is that still, at the tender age of 37 I am a work in progress. Sure I have learnt a lot over the years (more about that in a minute) but I am still a work in progress.

What I found in all of my jobs, is that I don’t need to be finished to be functional. When I served my first customer in Greggs the Bakers I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t know how to bake the goods, work the till, the price(s) of the items or how to assemble a cream cake box. Yet I was functional. I was able to do a job to do enough to get by and learn as I went.

Fast forward a few years and I was at a point where I was thinking I was getting close to the finished article (for the job I was in). I was in a call centre and able to answer 99% of customer queries, I was mentoring others, overtime offered regularly (and quickly taken) as I was good at what I did. Everything was tickety-boo.

Then I spoke to Mrs Smith (changed to protect the innocent) and when I finished the call with that lady, I should have been fired. The process would say I would have been suspended first and then had a hearing and all that jazz but I should have been fired.

You see Mrs Smith and I had been talking for about 20 minutes about an aspect of her query that we held opposite views on. She felt X and wanted Y as an outcome and I knew that policy dictated we do A and B is the outcome. Plus, I was feeling annoyed as I was being shouted at and didn’t like that very much. After much pacing around, I slumped in my chair, reached over to my phone unit and hit the mute button. I proceeded to say out loud, using some very colourful language, how I felt about this interaction, and the lady in question, in a frustrated and angry tone. Once I finished my utterance, I heard “pardon? what did you say?”


What had I done? I tried some feeble attempt to explain it away and the damage was done. She hung up (and then called back rightfully demanding to speak to a manager).

That day, that moment, that second changed me forever.

That day I got gripped by emotion. Emotion had (I thought) cost me my job, my promising career, my future.
That day I decided I needed to understand emotion. I needed to understand it so I could stop this ever happening again, ever.
That day I realised that if this can happen to me, it can happen for others and therefore, what damage (and I now think brilliance) can emotion bring.
That day, I changed.

I’ve thought hard about whether to share this story as it is an event I look back on with shame and by saying it changed me I imply that I don’t do this now, which is the case. Still, a moment I deeply regret and will forever be grateful to my line manager at the time for saving my job as I didn’t deserve to have one.

It was after this that I started work hard to notice more, notice as much as possible about what set emotions off for me. How it felt, what I did, how to calm it, how to hold it, how to listen with and through it, how to feel it and choose what to do with it. This was about working with it, not turning it off. Then, how can I help others work with this too.

You see the word emotion is like the whole room in that picture. You can look at the whole picture and see what is going on. You can also function with it. The real trick though, is seeing the detail; the links, the overlaps, the similarities, the differences, the (mis)alignment, the patterns, the colours, the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the tools, the small things between the tiles. If I attend to the small things, it helps me appreciate the total with greater awareness.

Even now though, as I come to the end of my MSc in Emotion, Deception and Credibility….. I am still a work in progress.

Thank you again Sheridan for the inspiration and the photo. I’d like to nominate the lovely Mike Collins (@communitymike) and Doug Shaw (@dougshaw1) and here is your picture.



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