New Beginnings

August 22nd, 2013 by Douglas McEncroe · No Comments · Leadership

A week ago today my two little girls had their first day at school. It was not their first time in an educational setting having attended day care two days a week since they were two. Now however at the age of only three and a half they have a new beginning full of challenges. It’s school, not day care, they have to go five days a week and it is nearly all in French. My wife has always spoken French to them so they understand everything, but now they have to function in that language too. When I saw them sitting at that little table I must admit to feeling a little guilty throwing them into such a challenge at their age. And yet, a week on, they seem to be thriving, just as my wife told me they would.

I too am experiencing a new beginning. After having lived in Europe for thirty years and having built up a very successful business in Spain, a year and a half ago I returned to my native Sydney to start again. I don’t regret our decision to move to Australia and yet I must recognize that it is full of challenges and rather daunting. I think that in this modern world in which the old paradigm of lifelong employment with one company is a thing of the past, many people have to face new beginnings. So, what have I learnt from mine?

As I think back over the last eighteen months I have achieved an understanding of what helps when managing a new beginning. Here are seven insights:

  1. Be patient
  2. Accept that it is difficult
  3. Maintain your optimism
  4. Don’t expect your friends to do your work
  5. Get out there and network
  6. Think about what you have learnt from your career so far
  7. Focus on what you know you do well

Be Patient

In my case I built up a great business in Madrid over twenty years. Because of that, in Sydney I am not starting from zero, but it is a new beginning. I can’t expect to arrive at where I was in Madrid after only one year back in Sydney. Building afresh takes time. So, make sure that you are building every day.

Accept that it is difficult

One thing that I learnt studying the stoics is not to worry about life being difficult. Overcoming difficulty is what humans do best and is what brings the best out in us. Accept the difficulty, embrace it.

Maintain your optimism

If you have been successful in the past you will be successful again. Perhaps in a different way, perhaps even doing different things, but you will succeed. Always remember who you are and what you are capable of achieving.

Don’t expect your friends to do your work for you

When I came back to live in Sydney I thought that with all the friends and contacts I have here it will be easy to connect with the market. After some months I realized that this was not the way to go. I never used my friends in Spain and I don’t want to do it here. In the end you have to get out there and make your own contacts and find the places where you can add value. This is your work, not anybody else’s.

Get out there and network

I am reading a great book at the moment called, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi in which he argues passionately about the need to consciously network. In Spain I worked with so many executives who for me had a mistaken understanding of what networking was really about and so didn’t invest much energy in it. But as Ferrazzi points out Networking is more about offering your help to as many people as you can rather than just looking for favours. What happens when you do this though is that you build a whole army of people who are delighted to help you. When you are starting out again, this is a big plus.

Think about what you have learnt from your career so far

No better time to think consciously about what you have learnt so far in your career than when you are making a new beginning. Get true clarity around that learning and act on it. You will advance.

Focus on what you know you do well

One of the insights of thinking about what you have learnt so far is seeing clearly what it is that you do really well. Play to your strengths and make them even stronger. This way you can really add value to people.

It is normal to feel fear when facing a new beginning. Accept that fear but use it to push you on. Before every 800m I ran I was so scared that I was nearly sick. But, once that gun went off there was nobody who could stop me. Remember who your are and don’t let anybody or anything stop you.


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