The Dreaded L Word: Leads

No one plans to be in the position I am in now with the industry currently very un-boomy, but I still think there are some positives. I cannot recall the last time I had this much time to dedicate to me and whatever I wanted to do. These days, time is a luxury a lot of people wish for and dream off. So really, I should be thankful for all the time I have now. As with everything I have a couple of options on how to move forward with this. Do I use my time wisely or do I waste it?

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I am doing my best to get back into full time work. However, with the state of things, the job seeking venture does have its more challenging days. I think we have all read and heard a lot of the doom and gloom stories relating to unemployment. I do not want this entry to fall into that same category. It is too easy to get dragged into the negativity hole and even if I do have my more challenging days, I make a conscious effort to use the time I have now wisely. Be it reconnecting with people I have lost touch with; volunteering, attending workshops and events to enhance my skill set and network; exploring a sanity check Plan B of sorts; reading and learning as much as I can.

It is very important that I do not squander the time I have been gifted with, especially since I do not plan on this chapter of my life to be a long one. I need to ensure I am still being productive whilst I plot and plan my way back in. However, balance is the key to life right? So, I have to admit, there are days where it’s definitely nice to just Netflix and chill.

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During the productive days, I have been tapping into my skills and conducting industry research; looking at what organisations and roles I should be aiming for. I am also actively delving deeper into my motivations. I am so determined to get something out of this experience, to learn something, so I can look back on this not-so-delightful chapter fondly.

In the process of thinking about my motivations and what’s next career wise, I came up with the analogy of my current situation being like that of a Formula 1 driver. Before you scoff and close the page, just stick with me and remember we all deal with challenges in different ways. This is how I am coping with this curveball of mine. Okay so here goes. The way I think about it is I have the skills – I’m a quick learner, great at building relationships, I have operations and corporate experience, solid analytical and practical skills, and most importantly, I will step up to a challenge (and a whole lot more.) So in the F1 world I am like any of the drivers – I have the skills. I’ve worked my way through the training wheels, karting days and Formula Renault. I have done the study and the entry level roles, built my foundation. Now I am ready for the main stage!

Anyone who follows F1 or any sport for that matter knows that merely having skills isn’t enough. You can be highly skilled yet miss out on the highest accolades. I have the foundations to be a World Champion, possibly multiple times. But to get there, I need a damn good car and an excellent team. So far, I haven’t had the pleasure of having all the puzzle pieces at one time. I have had the pleasure of learning from some great bosses but all the puzzle pieces just hasn’t fall into place, yet. The resolve this time around is to locate all those elusive pieces in my next career move. I will welcome as many pole positions as I can get under my belt. The same goes for the fastest laps, podium finishes, and of course that spot on top of the dais. But in the long run, I am aiming for the ultimate prize – the World Champion!

Regardless of skill level, if the environment isn’t right then there isn’t much chance of great success. Without all the puzzle pieces, at the very best I will end up following in Mark Webber’s footsteps. Don’t get me wrong, he is a brilliant and well respected driver. He had a strong season a few years back but no championship. He had the skills, a decent car, a team of professionals but there was still something missing. He missed out on making the most out of several pole starts and there were other hurdles in his way. He was really close one year but never got the main prize. Yes, for those who just realised, I am a bit of an F1 nut.

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Anyway, back on my delusional career analysis. It’s not very original but wouldn’t it be nice to be like be Aryton Senna. He wasn’t just a world champion, he inspired a whole nation! Brazilians still speak fondly of how they would watch his races and they still speak with great sadness about his untimely demise. Not just that, he had the rivalry going on which pushed him to his limits. Barring reaching Senna levels, I would settle for Kimi Raikkonen or Jenson Button. Two very different personalities but both world champions. Why not Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel? Well, it got boring there after the first few times. I do not think I would enjoy that sort of dominance but we can revisit this when I get my first championship trophy. I reserve the right to change my mind on this one.

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Now the biggest question is – what’s next for me? The sooner I have an answer for this the better! Because I am not an engineer, accountant, geologist, metallurgist, or any of those straightforward classifications, it is a bit harder to pigeon hole my skill set into a specific area of the business. I have recruitment and operations background, but my desire to gain more experience on the operations side of things makes it a bit more challenging to put me in a straightforward classification box. Unfortunately, due to the unforeseen speed bump there are some restrictions as to what I can do especially in the next 12 months. So a thorough reassessment and rerouting of my previous career master plan is the order of the day. Anyone who is shares my position and is currently looking for work knows that the opportunities that are available are fairly limited.

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So I have implemented several approaches. Relying on Seek and other job boards can definitely break ones spirit. It is important in this market to not just passively job search but to actively reach out as well. I am actively researching to understand what roles I can do, which organisations I would fit in and do my best in. I am delving deep to understand where I could make the most difference. The more I understand this, the better I can pitch myself and land that exciting next role. It is fairly slim pickings for job seekers at the moment but that definitely doesn’t mean give up. I have an idea in my head as to where I want to end up next. Unfortunately, all this introspection and determination isn’t enough to land me my next career adventure. It isn’t just up to me as market forces need to align for the next opportunity to become a reality.

 

To maintain the balance and keep myself sane, I am also slowly working on Plan B. To keep me occupied when the passive job search and targeted research gets a little demoralising, I am exploring a little start up business of sorts. One I can juggle with my Plan A when I land that next awesome gig (which I know is just around the corner.) It would be very easy to fall into a career black hole at this point in time but as the inspiring speakers at the WIMWA Summit touched on, its times like this that make us tougher and more resilient.

With all the research, workshops and events recently, one of the most enduring lessons I came across is that part of being resilient is acknowledging and accepting vulnerabilities. In line with this lesson, I ask those in my network for tips or leads. I realise that for some, any sentence with leads or tips is as appealing as when a partner approaches you with the dreaded “we need to talk.”  Yes, I find that the L and T words can at times seem as bad as the F or C words.

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Today it’s pressing the publish button for this post!

However, as part of this getting out of my comfort zone exercise, I am going to push it and will even use two dreaded L words in one go – Looking for Leads. Yes, I am asking those in my network for any leads for my next awesome career move.  Anyone out there who has some insights, can recommended courses, events, people I can approach and speak to, a potential role which aligns with my skill set, please let me know. I would thoroughly welcome the opportunity to pick someone’s brain so I can better plan my next steps. I do not expect anyone to hand me a contract for that next awesome role straight off the bat, but I would appreciate any leads as to what’s out there and not just what’s on Seek. Tips and words of wisdom are also very welcome. I love learning from everyone and will soak it all in like a sponge!

 

Back in it… kinda!

So, how has everyone’s year been so far? How many resolutions have turned into permanent changes? How many have been broken?

I know it is a bit late to be asking as we are now well and truly into the second quarter but I think it pays to take re-evaluate regularly. Majority take the opportunity to take stock during the end/start of each year. I believe it is important to take stock every few months; it’s the only way we can ensure we are still on the right track. It also allows us to be grateful for the good things which have come our way and to highlight the opportunities for improvement for the not so good things that hit us.

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Holiday sunset. Taken from my old stomping ground.

For me, putting together another (late) blog entry is always a great opportunity to ponder; which means I should probably learn to update more often and regularly. But here goes the first one for 2016!

Since returning from the lovely six week holiday, it has been interesting getting into the swing of things at work. Thankfully the wrist is on the mend and I am slowly getting back out in other areas of the plant. At the time of writing, I am cleared for full duties under observation. Unfortunately, a bout of really nasty sinusitis has prolonged the final sign off process. Hopefully, I will be back on -track sooner than you can say: the never ending wrist saga may actually have an end.

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The view from the crusher box – my domain for the last few months.

Before the sinus knocked me out for several swings, I was back in the plant and had to relearn a few of the basics. Although I already completed a couple of months in the crusher box, there was more to get used to as I started getting clearance to broaden my free range area a bit more. The technicalities of the equipment, I had no problems with. Except for the few instances when gap checks turned into an all out tug of war between me and the crusher! For the most part, no issues with the equipment side of things. Having stayed up to date by reviewing and updating the safe work procedures and helping out in the permit office, I maintained familiarity with the plant. It’s the other nuances of being out and about that had me stumped.

Readjusting to night shift is a given. Mind you, not as hard as the first time around. It is actually semi-manageable now – with or without the unwelcome wake up calls from the cleaners. Of course, getting dirty, muddy and dusty comes with the territory and something I sort of enjoy, still! Even being completely drenched from the waist down to the socks an hour into shift wasn’t too bad. Trudging around muddy areas with boots getting heavier by the second was challenging but bearable. Relearning and remembering the secret hiding spots for hose clips, ready-made minsups and various useful knick knacks was a bit challenging. Assessing whether or not I have the right gloves for the tasks also took a bit of getting used to – yes, it really does make a difference folks.

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It ain’t all bad on night shift.

Getting used to being out in the heat and staying hydrate was also a challenge. Hydration is always very important, but more so during the hotter days. I wasn’t very good at this the first few days. When you work indoors, it is easy to forget to drink a lot of water. But when you are outdoors, especially during summer or any day over 25 degrees, you must stay hydrated at all times. Even if the hydration bag isn’t the coolest look or the most logical (it induces a bit of sweating in the back area), it is a very handy accessory to have. Equally handy too, is making sure there’s a ChapStick handy to prevent ouchie, wind burnt lips. Something I still struggle with – always have and seems like I always will!

Dealing with the fall-out of being injured for over a year and still being on light-duties was and is beyond challenging but realistically, very much expected. I mentioned this in previous posts and it seems to be part of the new normal I have to contend with. The resentment and animosity from majority of the pack is palpable. Heck, most of them don’t even try to hide it. Their reaction is obviously based on their own assessment of the injury and what the recovery time should have been. All based on their own perceptions and their understanding of the situation, of course. Not much I can do because most of them aren’t interested in the facts. Explanations about the prognosis and recovery haven’t made a difference and I honestly do not think it will make any difference going forward. The only thing that can be done is to keep calm and carry on. The breathing and counting to 10 sometimes helps too!

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Drenched! Not even an hour into shift. Must get back into the habit of packing spare socks all the time.

My new normal also involves constantly keeping track and being mindful of how the wrist is faring and reporting anything unusual or any pain ASAP… or risk copping another written warning (this bit was not verbalised officially but it’s my guess based on previous events.) It’s whiny, I know… but I am still convinced that this injury cannot be all bad. Even if the negative experiences out of it have been numerous so far, it cannot be all bad. It just can’t. As my magic physio says, it may serve to change my perceptions on work injuries and could serve as a significant learning experience in the long run. Although, that remains to be seen for the moment… now back to the more exciting story on hand!

The examples cited above were the little speed humps, minor challenges.  It turns out that the most challenging readjustment of all would be getting used to the toilet situation: the unisex toilet situation to be specific. I am not sure if I shared this tidbit before but not all areas of the plant have female only toilets. This is understandable as there aren’t very many females working around the plant. So certain areas have unisex toilets only. Of course, the option to walk a bit extra to get to the female toilet is always there. For those of you whose concept of a unisex toilet is based on the TV show Ally McBeal, imagine the opposite of that and you would have a better picture of the ones we have. After a minor misdemeanour at the start of my tenure on site wherein I blatantly took the vacant stall while my colleague, the memorable Action Man, was in the only other stall. I would like to think that I have a better understanding of onsite unisex toilet etiquette.

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Purple no more!

It took a few minutes for me to realise that I shouldn’t have taken the only other stall right next to him during that embarrassing first encounter or some may refer to it as that “teachable moment”. I probably should have waited until the coast was all clear – stalls and the other bit. It cannot be denied; it got a bit uncomfortable after that realisation, and then very quickly crossed over to really uncomfortable. More uncomfortable for him though as he aborted his mission pretty quickly. After that uncomfortable experience I thought it best either wait my turn or find another block of toilets regardless of distance if a member of the male specie chooses to use the stalls. It’s not just about their privacy; it is for your own welfare too sometimes.

As I look back on my first quarter, I am a bit behind where I intended to be. Sadly, with certain things beyond my control kicking my butt at present and dealing with the injury fall out proving to be more draining than expected, it has been a challenging first quarter. Thankfully, I am stubborn, determined to catch up and make the most of the rest of the year! Funnily enough, the tone of my year actually changed significantly between the time I started and finished this post. But you will have to wait for the next update to find out about that!

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No, this is not courtesy of Photoshop. No post production touch ups, just the vivid setting on my camera.