Two things happened at the same time.
On one hand, I was reorienting myself and exploring opportunities around big (telecom) data, how big data could be a source of societal innovation and I wanted to continue on that path.
At that same time my employer of those days Vodafone decided to focus on core business and cut investment in the innovation space around big data. I started looking for jobs to see whether I could drive my vision with other companies. But I soon found out that many times hiring was conservative: I would only be considered for jobs such as I had just left. I was not interested. So I did not find an employer with the right context for what I wanted to do.
So I decided to give it a go myself.
This was a gradual process. Sometimes we choose to, and sometimes we have to, leave our relatively secure jobs and step outside our comfort zone. If this happens say, mid-career, an event like that forces you to re-evaluate what you really want to do in life. This involves a mental shift. We may have to re-determine our direction, get (back) into the habit of setting our own goals, and learn how to find the clients / projects we wish to serve – and get paid for it. The dynamic is very different from working within a larger structure where work is just there (often too much of it) and a manager sets direction and judges performance.
Fortunately the world is full of phenomenal challenges to be solved – some close to home, some at world scale. In this transition, the process is as important as the end result. When I stepped into this mode, which I call the ‘creator mode’ I sensed the empowering feeling of taking life back into my own hands. And also it was sometimes daunting or confusing – I just did not know how the choices I was making would turn out.
I was fortunate to be on this path with a group of likeminded people, supported by a team of trainers, mentors and coaches. With this support network, I got access to the skills that I needed to learn and the network that I needed to build. And to be honest, I took there the courage to start and resilience to continue.
Learnings I´d like to share:
• It takes a bit of time. Don’t lose heart. And stay ambitious. A small team of likeminded people can have a big impact.
• When you go, go. In the boldness of the action lies the seed of success.
Patrick Leenhers, Amsterdam