Coming Out From Undercover: A Journey of Self-Discovery


Coming Out From Undercover: A Journey of Self-Discovery

Purpose. Such a simple and harmless looking word, but those seven letters combined together in just that order have such a powerful meaning. Are you living your purpose? Are you ‘on purpose’ in your business? What IS your purpose? These are indeed big questions that I have been asking myself for some time now.

A journey of self-discovery

I’m blessed with an amazing life, an incredible wife, three wonderful grown-up sons, great experiences and great friendships. But at the age of 47, I now find myself at a crossroads in life. I’ve had the privilege of working in what I consider to be a truly great company for the past 23 years and have been lucky enough to have the seemingly uncommon experience of really enjoying my job. But time marches on, and we grow, and we change. The wide-eyed, inexperienced youth who started his first job at the tender age of 20, straight out of an Applied Physics degree at University thinking he knew it all, has now evolved into a wiser soul who knows that there is most certainly always more to learn.

I sometimes wonder where people’s life plans come from. Like so many others, I followed what I considered to be the ‘normal’ path of go to school, study hard, go to uni, get a job, get married, settle down, buy a house, have kids, work hard and then in the future continue on towards retirement with enough money to live a comfortable life after hitting the magical age of 67. It seems that’s what just about everyone does because the mythical “they” said it should be that way.

Don’t get me wrong – that plan was great for the first 25 years of my working life. I don’t believe in regret and I most certainly do not regret any of my choices or time along my journey in that quarter century. But in the past couple of years, I have found myself yearning for a different journey, seeking a path that differs from the nice, neat, straight, narrow, paved pathway that represents the continuation of the ‘old plan’. I have found myself being drawn away from the well-trodden path to a new journey, one of self-discovery. I am recreating my identity as I move into this next stage of my life – I’ve moved through childhood and parenthood, and now it’s time for change, time for more, time for a bigger life.

Be of service

I have grown enormously through my 27 years working in two engineering businesses, starting from a very green young engineer and developing into a very experienced and well-rounded engineering manager. In my second job I had 20 years in a management role including four years running an international office, 15 years as a part owner and nine years on the board of directors. During my time with the firm we grew from around 20 staff in two offices to now more than 100 staff in 13 offices in five countries, with an excellent reputation on the world stage.

In my job I was in a senior position and had some impact on the business as a whole, but I felt as a minor shareholder that I couldn’t have the level of independence and control that I could feel was becoming more and more important to me. I also felt that the scale of the business, the type of work and nature of clients meant that my direct impact on the people involved, both internally within the business and externally on the client side was gradually eroding over time.

Through my journey of self-discovery, I uncovered my purpose – to be of service, and I have come to realise that the fulfilment of that purpose is at the intersection of two of my great strengths and areas of interest – business and engineering. And so, my latest venture Engineer Your Business was born.

What’s your purpose?

I encourage you to not simply be a passenger in your own life, just standing by and letting life happen to you. My vision is for you to Design Your Life and then to Engineer Your Business to bring that vision into reality.

The first step is to really understand where you are right now and how you feel about that. I suggest that you step back and cast a critical, objective, impartial and non-judgemental eye over your life and your business and really search deep down for what drives you, what makes you feel good, what makes you happy. If you love where you are right now, fantastic! Don’t change a thing.

But if you feel there could be more to your life and you could be doing things differently, perhaps making a contribution, making more money, building a different business, travelling, meditating in a cave or whatever other wild ideas come into your head, then I believe you owe it to yourself to explore those avenues and find your purpose. Getting some help from a coach, mentor or trusted adviser who has experience in this kind of thing could assist you greatly on your journey – bouncing ideas around and talking things through can really help to bring things to light that might otherwise stay buried in the depths of your mind if it’s just you thinking on your own.

I’d like to share with you now one of my absolute favourite questions:

If anything was possible and you knew you could not fail, what would you choose to go for?

Go on, take the leap – ask yourself this very powerful question and see what comes out. I did, and it has changed my life forever.

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  • Jenny

    Wonderful article Mike, great to hear how you have found your new purpose – I bet you’ll be brilliant!

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