T’other day on Twitter, I made a flippant comment about choosing L&D as a career over being a bhangra dancer. Wendy Jacob threw the question over the fence – do you regret your choice? And I never responded. Because it’s a bloody interesting question.
I see what my friends are doing around me as the first port of call. From my teenage years, this has always been what I’ve done. It’s been my measure of success. As an only child, I didn’t have siblings to measure myself against. I had cousins, but most were older than me, and the ones near my age, were either living too far away for me to give any real attention, or not that close. So, to my friends I’d look, and I’d observe. There was Richard I remember. He was a clever kid. In the top of the class. I was a middling student mostly. And carried on so throughout my education. Enough to get by, and enough to do well enough to get the pass mark. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m not as academically astute as others, or if I didn’t apply myself enough. I’ll say it’s a bit of both.
While at college, we then had to think about university and what subjects we’d be studying. I had friends going off to Cambridge, Oxford, UCL, Luton and there was me at UEL studying Psychology at undergraduate. At university, friends went off to study masters in chemical engineering and medicine. I couldn’t decide what my path needed to be after being an undergraduate, but realised unless I specialised in a field of psychology my prospects for working in the field weren’t that great. So after some time, I thought about doing occupational psychology.
Which brought us into the world of work. Friends had joined the civil service graduate scheme, management consulting firms, accountancy firms, and became qualified teachers and I was working part time doing temp work. When I finished my MSc, it took me a few months to get a real job, at QVC. And boy was I chuffed! I saw my friends doing well around me. High paid jobs, or jobs with responsibility, and I was a Training Officer.
After some years with them, I decided it was time to move on. And joined a training company called The Outsourced Training Company as a consultant whose primarily role was to deliver all things occupational psychology. And that made me grow some. More than some, I grew a lot in that role. Learned a lot. Having been made redundant by them, I found a role at LBi. And have been here since. And this role brought with it a lot of autonomy and a lot of opportunity to spread my wings. So I have done.
But what have I learned in that time? Surely I must have achieved stuff? Well yes, and no. I’ve learned broad things about myself. I’m clearly a people person. I’m clearly someone motivated by engaging with others. I’m clearly someone who enjoys the work he does. I’m clearly someone who has learned how to build a reputation. I’ve also learned how to take feedback on performance. I’ve learned I don’t get on well with everyone. I’ve learned even though you may enjoy your job, it’s not always fun and games.
Do I regret my choice to go into L&D? Sometimes, yes. Because I see what else is potentially available out there. I see people working in other fields and I learn about what they do, and I think bloody hell that sounds fascinating. And I see other salaries that people earn. I’m not greedy like that, and I’m not exactly struggling, but I do marvel at the worth attached to some roles. Then, I see what is potentially on the horizon for me in my current role, or with other companies.
But then I look at where I’m at. I look at my life. I look at my wife and my kids. I look at my family. I look at my friends and I look at my connections. I look at my lifestyle, my health and my personal development. And I realise that this is exactly where I want to be. I have ambitions and aspirations like most people, but am not deluded to think I’m not a lucky guy. I’m awesomely lucky to be in this role, doing what I do, and with the skill to be able to do it. So, do I regret making my choice?
No, because I knew exactly what I was doing.