When being bold pays off

Is it really true that you make your own luck in this life?  Maybe.  I just landed a job by using some initiative and making a bold move.  I have a very niche set of skills and experience which is under-valued in my present workplace, so for some time I’ve not felt as fulfilled as I could be professionally.  I’ve also been coasting on the same income for years, feeling that I should be earning more.  Had I hit some kind of career ceiling?  Was I the victim of prejudice?  No, I don’t think so.  In any case, I don’t believe that claiming victimhood is a good way of explaining a problem or a lack of progress.

I’ve been following Jordan Peterson and we have a copy of his book, 12 Rules for Life.  One thing he said about gender equality really struck a chord with me. To paraphrase, he suggests that women may be less successful in the workplace, or may not advance as far as men professionally, not because of any inherent sexism, but because they are too nice, too accepting, too reluctant to make a fuss. Ladies, could it be that we are just not assertive enough when it counts?

I took this idea on board, parked it, and got on with things. Then an ex-colleague got in touch and we met up for a drink.  He works in the exact niche field that I had to leave last year because my employer was in financial difficulty.  He said they really needed someone with my specific skills to take over some of the management and unite disparate teams.  If I applied to the MD, he said, they would employ me in a flash.  Well, that was overstating the case, but it got me thinking.  The more I considered it, the more I realised he was right.  In fact, my experience is so relevant to the product and the people that no-one would fit the role as well as me.  Sounds arrogant?  Maybe, but this is all about being bold.

The other thing in my favour was that I had actually met the MD before, at a trade show, where he was so impressed with my presentation that he expanded his range into the market as a result.  I also knew that there was a culture clash going on between departments and they needed someone with the calmness and maturity to diffuse it.  So I added ‘peacemaker’ to my CV, wrote an amazing covering letter, and sent it off.  No job was being advertised.  Bold move #1.

Then followed a couple of phone calls and an interview in the pub after work.  Soon after that, the question finally arose, what are your salary expectations?  This was a key moment, my chance to elevate myself after 25 years of continuous full-time employment and a stainless record.  I considered the salary I could reasonably be expected to be on (but wasn’t), and the salary I wanted, without being crazily out of the ball park.  And I asked for the salary I wanted.  Which is a heck of a lot more than the salary I am on now.  It was time to be bold.  I knew they wouldn’t just agree to it, they would negotiate and I’d end up somewhere in between.  Which is exactly what happened.  But it’s still a big step up for me, enough to make a huge difference to our household. And I’m going back to a sector where I’ve spent most of my career, where I have some great connections.

I start in 3 weeks.  Jordan, thank you for the inspiration.

 

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A bit of Monty Maintenance

Monty is a black smoke Maine Coon.  He has the appearance and attitude of an entitled aristocrat.  As long as I treat him in the manner to which he is accustomed, we get along just fine.  I feel strongly the privilege that Monty extends to me every day, by allowing me into his inner circle.

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Yes, you may look at me.

Occasionally we clash if I want something to happen which isn’t his idea.  The best way to deal with this, is to make him think it’s his idea in the first place.  Yes he is a cat, but he is 8kgs of toned muscle and sheer determination.

Monty’s long, silver-grey fur is prone to matting in springtime, when the excess winter coat needs to be brushed out.  If I am not clever enough to get around him, his belly fur and back trousers form solid lumps.  If not removed, they will tighten and become very uncomfortable for him.  So the race is on for me to get those lumps out before they get too bad, and to comb his fur like mad before more lumps can form.

Some years the lumpage is worse than others, and sometimes I have to give in and take him for a haircut, under sedation, at the vets.  They will shear him like a sheep and although he looks ridiculous afterwards, he is perfectly happy rocking his summer crew-cut, lump-free.

Well, we are not there yet.  There were lumps in his armpits which I managed to tease out, by taking advantage of a deep sleep and the window of opportunity it presented – about 5 minutes.

Much worse were the lumps in his back trousers.  This is a location to which access is strictly forbidden.  Even when fast asleep, Monty is alert to any rummaging in that area. He has sharp claws and he is very quick.  This is a cat who can catch a squirrel, for goodness sake.

But yesterday – a breakthrough.  Chilled out in his wool basket, drowsy with the heat, I approached with a small pair of scissors.  I was lucky with the angle and – snip!- one lump, then two.  Monty stirred, realised what I was doing, and joined in.  He reached down and removed lump number three himself.  Job done, and not a single scratch.

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Unbelievable!

I am now reasonably hoping to avoid the expensive haircut at the vets…fingers crossed!