As I stare out of the aeroplane window admiring the coastal line of Spain, after a fun football tour and as I write and reflect in my gratitude diary about the things I am grateful for, I’m reminded that tomorrow I’m off to Glastonbury Festival. I can’t help but reflect on the year just gone and how differently I was feeling this time last year. This year, I am off to the festival feeling so happy. Last year, I was devastated.
It was around this time last year that I handed in my notice at a company that I had co-founded and helped to grow for the previous 3 years. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’d ever had to make, but I couldn’t continue working for the new CEO, whom I didn’t respect or value and who later proved to be a complete mismatch for the business, leaving the company himself a few months later having spent the last round of investment quickly and questionably.
I had a heavy heart. It felt like I was going through a break-up. One minute I would be excited about Glastonbury and the next, I’d be thinking about the decision that was forced on me and become really sad. As is true for many entrepreneurs, the start up had become part of my identity and I felt like I had lost a part of myself. When friends and family would ask how I was (before the break up), I would reply invariably with a status on the company. Some may think that’s not healthy, but I cared so much and put so much time and effort and passion into nurturing what felt like my baby, that it became everything to me. Anyone who has ever started and grown a business will know what I mean.
So, even at Glastonbury, where I was surrounded by other loves of my life – music, friends and family, I found myself mulling over what had gone wrong, whether I had made the right decision and generally feeling pretty depressed. It even got to the stage where I was still so sad when I returned from the festival, that I asked if I could take back my resignation, something that people who know me well will know was an extremely difficult thing to do. Needless to say, it didn’t work out and I left the company a month later, only to return again to help the original founder regain control a few months later, which is a whole other story. Rather than dwelling on the past however, I’d like to focus on the present and future, which I’m extremely excited about and on which serendipity has played a huge part.
In September last year, I embarked on a course in Amsterdam at the THNK School of Creative Leadership. I very nearly didn’t join the course as it was something that I came across whilst I was at the start-up and I wasn’t sure if it was still the right thing for me to do or whether it was wise, considering I didn’t have a job. But something, call it intuition or something higher than myself got me there and it’s really changed my life for the better. I’ve met incredible people, been fortunate to have been matched with a wonderful coach and grown so much personally. Whilst at THNK, I was able to finally crystalize an idea that had been brewing for years. All the pieces suddenly fell into place and I did something that I have been wanting to do for years, I created my own business.
My passion and purpose were clearer than ever and nothing could hold me back from moving forwards with it, not even the voice of the saboteur. I also found my business partner, Martine at THNK and together we co-founded Young Happy Minds, whose vision is to get society to value wellbeing in young people as highly as academic success. We’ve already had some great feedback on the business and we’re starting to really grow our online presence. Yesterday we got sign off on a 10 week programme starting in a school in West London in September. It’s the school that I did my first teaching practice at many years ago. It feels like I’ve come full circle. It makes me so happy to be able to start my venture in the same place that I learnt my trade as a teacher. To quote Steve Jobs, “I’ve started to connect the dots”.
This year, I’m looking forwards, not back. I can’t wait for the festival and to grow the new business. I’m also so grateful to my very special friend Ashmi for believing in me.This year I’m going to Glastonbury with a full heart, brimming with passion, purpose and love. I may even wear some flowers in my hair:-)
I hope that sharing this story helps others that may be in a bad place to see that when you connect with your inner passion and purpose and you have the courage to take action, great things can happen.