I’ve been a Juggler all my working life. I never actually did master chucking loads of balls in the air, but from the age of 17 when I mixed school studies, a Saturday job and working in a radio station, right through my career, I’ve always strived to follow my heart and do more than one thing.
Some parts of that last 20 years career stand out more than others. Interviewing Billy Bragg when I was 17, protecting Prince Charles by standing between him and a lighting tripod, interviewing Christian Slater, making tea for Sister Sledge, shaking hands with Tony Blair and Stevie Wonder (not at the same time), being an escort to Mr. Blobby, working backstage at The MTV Europe Music Awards. From photocopying scripts to attending board meetings I’ve done a lot. And I love that diversity.
That ‘bunch of weirdness’ is who I am, the anathema of a carefully crafted career plan. It’s not just been about earning a living, but having fun and living my dreams. That’s in contrast to the career routes that our parents’ generation took.
In my last proper job I carved out a unique role as corporate Juggler with a ‘make it up as you go along’ portfolio. I was managing director of one division, set up an operation at a new site, organised the company away day, managed joint venture projects, and edited the company newsletter. All at the same time. Going self-employed enabled me to re-invent myself free of a single job title, instead defined by a handful. But proof that whether you work for a big corporation, a small business or are self employed, you can still choose to be a Juggler.
In the late 1980s as a teenager, I remember anticipating my working life with some trepidation. I was worried that entering the world of work would mean I’d have to wear a suit and leave my personality behind. Thank goodness it was not like that; work is changing and it’s not about going to a flash office in a flash suit anymore. But lots of myths still prevail when it comes to work and business. Myths about how you should work, how productivity is measured and how you develop your career.
But it’s time to knock them down, to challenge some assumptions and change your thinking. There are no set rules for how you should operate in business; it’s about being authentic to your own talents and personal style, not conforming to someone else’s ideas.
So if you are looking for a fresh direction or a change in your working life in 2009, where authenticity and passion are at the heart of what you do; where you can mix up your passions and talents in a multi-dimensional worklife, then become a Juggler!