Life is all about the decisions we make as various key moments arise. As business leaders, our lives and, by extension, our decisions, are directed by the moments we have had, and our ability to listen to our inner voice.
Anyone that has been interviewed about their business has probably been asked “What was your Aha! moment?” In other words, what was the defining moment that led you to embark on your current path?
Life is full of defining moments. Defining moments are events that have undeniably changed you, shaped you into who you are today, or helped you to mature or grow. These moments have likely been presented to you since childhood.
Our lives are full of a myriad of experiences – happy ones and painful ones; success, failure, gain, loss, connection, loneliness, epiphanies, confusion and so many other emotions that are meant to mould us. Isn’t it fascinating to think that one moment can have an impact on the rest of your life? Moreso, the likelihood is that we have each had more than just one of those moments.
Now, with this in mind, I want to share with you 3 of my most memorable ‘defining moments’. These are the events that have put me on the path that I am on, and honestly, it was the decisions that stemmed out of these experiences that shaped not only my life but the business I run today - Gen A Consultancy.
The first Aha! I wanted to share with you happened while I was working as an Investment Accountant for BBC Worldwide in London. I had just completed a 3-year degree in Accounting and Finance during which time I had been fighting the growing internal feeling that I was not in the right place doing the right thing for me, nor was I pursuing this career for the right reasons. However, I was confused about which career I should follow since my interests were eclectic. This lack of commitment to the industry I represented resulted in me failing my CIMA final exams. Now, up until this point, I had never failed at anything, so this was a first and an uncomfortable first at that!
However, as cliché as it sounds, everything happens for a reason. The day I received my CIMA exam results was the day I decided I would never again pursue a career to fulfil other peoples’ expectations of me – be they family, friends or society at large. It was time to fulfil my own dreams. This leads me nicely to the second defining moment story I would like to share with you today.
When I was 12 years old, my parents hosted a doctor from Japan who was briefly in Zimbabwe for a conference that she would later attend with my mother. I was mesmerised by her beauty, her colourful kimono (traditional Japanese attire), the elegance with which she seemed to float across a room and her sheer kindness. Our guest wrote basic Japanese on the front page of my bible (it was the closet paper I had at the time of asking her to teach me a few words) and inevitably, every Sunday when I sat in church, that was the very first thing I saw. Now what do you think that kind of experience does to an already curious 12-year-old girl?
Well, at a very young age, I decided I had to visit Japan and find out who these people are and why they are remarkably different to any other cultural group of people I had ever interacted with. Lo and behold, 12 years later, I moved to Fukuoka, Japan with work. Key takeaway? Even strangers can have the most profound impact on who you become and what you choose to do!
The final story I would like to share with you starts in 2019, in a freezing cold air-conditioned office looking out towards a military base on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. I was writing up my final assignment for the Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management module of my MBA studies. The topic was Leadership and Politicking in organisations, so naturally, I was analysing the organisation I was working for. In the midst of writing about the challenges of managing a diverse workforce operating under a dominant culture, I suddenly had what I can only describe as an existential crisis – I recall asking out loud: “What am I doing here?”; “Is this really my purpose?”
This was followed by an epiphany as clear as day, that it was time I broke away from mainstream employment and turned my attention to the people and places that were not only aligned with my values but who would in fact value my experience, skills and passion for the change I wanted to see in the world. To turn my awareness into reality, I knew I had to step into my entrepreneurial shoes and start my own business, which I did in 2020. Key takeaway? Do not ignore your calling – that inner voice, that niggling feeling that alerts you when where you are no longer serves you. It is the internal compass that is trying to redirect you towards your destiny; all you have to do is listen and trust it.
Looking back at my defining moments helps me to take stock of where I have come from and stay focused on where I’m going. Taking time to reflect and focus on these moments can only improve your life and your business.
What are your Defining Moments and how have they influenced you?
What impact has listening to your inner voice during those Defining Moments had on you and others?
We would love to hear from you!