Recently I have been wondering about coincidence and whether the events that take place in our lives are freak happenings or part of a much bigger plan mapped out in advance for us by a higher order. I have spent a little time reflecting on the past few years. Thinking about the winding roads, pathways and roadblocks that have gotten me to this point, right here, right now. That single point in time when you stand still, look up to the sky and do kick arse fist pump and say, “Yesssss, I did it!!!!!” You know the move, the one like you are Tiger Woods and have just won the American Open? In my case, I have just landed my dream job! and so, out of the mud, this lotus lily will grow….
COINCIDENCE – (kəʊˈɪnsɪd(ə)ns) (noun)
1. a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.
synonyms: accident, chance, serendipity, fate, a twist of fate, destiny, fortuity, fortune, providence, freak, hazard.
Let me give you a quick time line of events. I have run my own businesses since I was 19 years old and at the tender age of 39, after a relationship break up, I found myself back in paid employment. I had landed a role as a Business Development Manager in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) industry. This was an industry I knew nothing about and at times I thought I was going to lose my mind! At the same time I met, and fell in love with my beautiful husband who promptly deployed to Afghanistan for a quick nine month tour, (it didn’t feel real quick but I don’t have the word count to prattle on about that), when he returned from his tour, we moved from tropical North Queensland to frosty Canberra for his next posting.
Canberra, being the most highly qualified state or territory in Australia and me, with only a qualification in interior design and retail to my name, found myself in a wee spot of bother trying to find a job in a city where the people stocking shelves at Woolworths all seem to have double degrees in Ancient Art History. Frustrated and broken from rejection, I once again found myself at a crossroad. I thought at this point I had taken a number of wrong turns. How could life be dealing me such a shitty professional hand? For the first two years, I navigated my way around a couple of jobs, again in the VET sector. I hit a few potholes and guard rails but along the way I have met some wonderful people all of who have given me directions to help charter my course.
Four diplomas later and still not happy in what I was doing, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman at my local coffee haunt. I had seen him before, we would pass each other every morning on our way to our offices, coffee in hand with only a polite nod good morning to offer each other. The caffeine had yet to make its way through the body to the part in the brain that makes articulate speech happen so early in the morning, so until this day we had never actually exchanged words.
For some reason on this particular morning we had both elected to sit in the warmth of the café to drink our coffee. Perhaps it was a gallant effort to muster the energy to go to a job that offered nothing more than frustration. His introduction was followed closely by, “What’s your degree in?” “I don’t have one” I said, a response, which seemed to echo in my head like the absence of a degree was representative off the absence of a brain. I distinctly remember the dark cloud of educational shame and embarrassment that hung over me which lifted and changed to sunshine the more we spoke. As fate (coincidence) would have it, he lectured for a university and by the time we had finished our coffees and headed off in our separate directions, I had a contact, a university and a pathway to a degree and future career opportunity. As I looked back at where I had been metaphorically standing 15 minutes earlier, on the edge of a cliff unable to cross to the other side, a bridge had now been appeared and a way forward for my professional life was clear. Just like that my learning journey began.
Fast forward two years, a change in jobs…still in the VET sector (it feels like I will never get out of the training game!), I have finally graduated from a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). Throughout my studies, travelling to Sydney on weekends, my husband and I would spend time after class talking to the homeless men and women living rough on Sydney’s streets. Some were veterans and I felt drawn to their plight both as individuals and as a homeless community and right at that moment I had realised my passion. I had found my purpose, the plight of our veterans and the challenges they face with transition and reintegration back into civilian life. It’s a critical time in their lives and if we don’t get transition right, it potentially could lead to social isolation, homelessness or worst, veterans ending their lives. What if I could use my degree as a platform to help make their final military mission a success?
I knew this was it for me. I knew I had found my thing. The thing that makes me get out of bed each day, makes me research more, analyse more and develop solutions more. That though is the physical out put of my passion; the emotional one is a feeling of strength, drive and commitment. It wells up in my belly and makes my heart feel full. I feel absolutely clear, focused and alive.
So how do you get the two to meet up? How do you get your passion to collide with you professional life in an explosion that will create a new planet in your own solar system? You persevere, you never give up and though at times you try to convince yourself that what you are currently doing may well be as good as it gets, your passionate being won’t let you forget what you have learned and it certainly won’t let you forget that you have been awakened to the realisation of what you are here to do.
Failure isn’t failure if a lesson from it’s learnt
I made a promise to myself when I returned from Harvard in May of this year. I promised that I would say “yes” to everything, every invitation and every opportunity because I couldn’t possibly know what had been mapped out for me. I couldn’t know where it might lead, who I might met or even what I might discover about myself just by simply saying “yes’. I was going for broke, I was going to develop relationships, I was going to feed those relationships and I was going to leverage them to get what I wanted. I wanted to work in the field that kept me emotionally, mentally and spiritually alive and I wasn’t letting anything stand in the way. I never accepted ‘no’ as a failure. You see, failure isn’t failure if a lesson from it’s learnt and hearing the word “No” just meant I had to alter my course a little or just idle in neutral until the next opportunity presented itself but I never ever gave up and it’s paid off. I start my dream career next Monday!!!
What I have come to realise is this. There is no such thing as coincidence. Every ‘no’ or ‘yes’ you receive, every job interview you win or lose, every friend that comes into your life and goes again, does so for a reason. That reason is to lead you to where you are meant to be and if you can be ‘still’ enough, and can quite your mind enough, you will be able to look back through your memories to find sense in the confusion.
Looking back at your past will help you find the purpose in your future.
This is for you Allan. For if it wasn’t for that question, I may not have found my way.