Pauline is an escape member who recently returned from taking part in the ‘Be the Change Journey’ to India. She embarked on the journey to gain clarity and inspiration and to accelerate herself into meaningful work.
I was facilitating a workshop for the equity partners of a law firm. Whilst they scrabbled over the division of profits, so that each could ensure they got what was rightfully theirs, I could not help but be disgusted with myself that I was lending my intelligence to the ego-mania that was playing itself out in front of me.
This was not the first time that I realised I was in the wrong job; thankfully it was one of the last. The trouble was that even though I knew I needed to do something different I had no clue what that was.
My Monday morning emails from Escape the City were my lifeblood but none of the roles quite seemed to fit, or the ones that did didn’t think I did. I struggled on until fate intervened.
In December 2013, I faced the choice of whether to accept an offer of redundancy or stay on in a role I knew I would hate. I was cursing myself that I had not signed up to the ‘Be the Change Journey’ – a learning journey mixing career coaching with visits to social enterprises – that promised to ‘propel me into meaningful work’.
The program was taking place in India at the end of January – perfect timing. I had come across the course the previous August but a chorus of left-brain thinking (‘I can’t afford it’, ‘I’ll probably figure it out myself’) had got in the way. Now it was completely sold out.
On the off chance that there might be a cancellation I decided to email the organiser of the journey. My heart hoped that there had been but my head secretly hoped that there hadn’t! It’s always easier to say ‘I would have definitely gone if there had been a place’ but not so easy to put your money where your mouth is when presented with the opportunity.
I awoke the next day to an email informing me there had just been a cancellation and that the place was mine if I wanted it. My joy was in equal measure to my trepidation.
The old adage ‘be careful what you wish for’ immediately came to mind. I sought counsel from many sources, half hoping someone would talk me out of it, but deep down I knew that I would be ignoring the serendipity of events at my own peril. Entirely skeptical about what I was really going to get out of it, I took a leap of faith and signed up.
The words of W.H. Murray accurately sum up what happened next… “Concerning all acts of initiative or creation, there is one elementary truth…that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have believed would have come his way”.
Within 48hrs I had also received an offer to assist a charity with an exciting strategy implementation project as well as a firm prospect of some lucrative contracting work that would help pay the bills when I returned from India. Convinced that everything was falling into place I headed off to India to join the 10 other hopefuls who were also looking to be propelled.
Clarity & Inspiration
Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come next. The Be the Change Journey is essentially designed to turn you upside down and inside out, stirring your emotions and challenging your sense of self every step of the way.
The people we were introduced to and the causes they served exuded a purity of intention, humility and passion that challenged ones sense of contribution and provoked a deep inner questioning.
The group coaching sessions were carefully engineered to ensure that there was no respite for the ego challenges that had already been unleashed. We unearthed our core values, pinpointed the issues that touch us and the difference that we dream of making in the world, and looked at our talents and skills in this light.
The course was very cleverly put together in what seemed like distinct parts that all came together in light bulb moments that signalled that there could be no going back for any of us.
The sense of what could be achieved was empowering. We each knew that even if we had to return to a life of business as usual for a period of time, the future was going to be very different from the one we knew 8 days previous.
The end of one journey together signalled the beginning of 11 individual journeys, each of which had its origins somewhere on the road between Ahmedabad and Goa.
Personally I gained the clarity I needed to move forward with a certainty and surety that I had been lacking. I am now on track to bring my enthusiasm and skills to bear in a field that is infinitely more worthy. Even if I still have to suffer the corporate wheel for a period along the way I will be doing so because it is part of my plan not because I am stuck.
No matter what the future holds in store, my decision to embark on the ‘Be the Change Journey’ will stand out as being one of the most amazing gifts I have ever given myself.
“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.” – Goethe