In 2019, after years of adrenaline fed work with start-ups and the constant highs and lows of entrepreneurship, I had the very conscious thought that I wanted to work in a different way. For over a decade, I had pushed through several start-ups of companies (1 of my own) and then took on a gold cage job that I thought would give me the break that I needed both financially and getting myself back on track to exploring the way I really wanted to work. This golden cage job didn’t suffice my needs fully. Although it paid well, I found myself on a low level of burnout out whilst my brain felt mushy and under-utilized. I was languishing but making money so I tolerated the dullness for far longer than was necessary.
The very conscious choice in 2019 was to go back to supporting entrepreneurial startups but not in the usual advisory way. Advisory is more top-down, me telling companies what to do. I would support upcoming businesses would be through participatory methodologies and coaching allowing them to discover what truly works for their enterprise. I felt the wind beneath my sails as I booked my training in Lego Serious Play and signed up for executive coaching in Canada. I knew the road was long but it was a way out of that persistent and nagging feeling of losing my edge and my spirit.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all. Dale Carnegie
2020 was on a quick up curve with a certification in Lego Serious Play (LSP) under my belt and a month into executive coaching at Royal Roads University. The problem with coaching is that it can disrupt and un-earth what has been sitting beneath the surface and blowing it all up to the surface. Coaching allowed me to focus on myself and ignore all the discouraging signs around me. Consequently, I took the leap and dropped the golden cuffs to fully get into coaching and LSP in February. The next month the pandemic hit hard and this was the beginning of my great pause.
No one wants to play with LEGO© in a team during a pandemic. People wanted to be coached but the coaching was fueled mostly by one’s own panic about losing their job which they hated anyhow. Or simply realizing that life is too short, or life is just too full with working from home on Zoom facilitated by patchy bandwidth and kids noisily running around.
My LEGO© literally sat in the corner, in the shadows where I parked my enthusiasm. I cringed every time I walked past. The weight of disappointment and the grief of my dreams being on pause was a lot and I turned to other things I hadn’t done in a long time. I gardened and found my love for plants again but most of all, I tried my hand at dating again.
After a few false starts, I met my now partner who encouraged me to pick up LSP again. Half-heartedly, I started working on the tools I needed to get back on track after what added up to months of my mental pause. My start was that I needed pictures for my website, which meant I had to bring my Lego out to make up some models for photographing. Two hours later of solid solo play, I found that sitting in front of me, I had built my ideal life in LEGO©. It was at that moment when the pause button was released, albeit in slow motion, the brake was off and I was on play.