A few years a go I was working in a very nice company with very nice people. I mean very nice. No one ever said an unkind or critical thing to me.
And yet, they were slowly strangling my spirit.
Along with their pleasant approach came an unspoken, invisible confinement in a professional box with strict limitations. I was not to work with these people; it was not my place to question this or improve that. I was never to take big risks or succeed spectacularly. I might get promoted and my salary might increase but it would be slow and incremental. I must never overtake my boss or others on a higher grade.
And I went along with all of this because it was the same unspoken message I had perceived in every workplace before that. I just thought it was true because it was everywhere.
And then one day a friend of mine in the same company attempted a daring jail-break. She moonlighted for a few months for free, working with a smaller organisation that permitted risk-taking and did not limit others. Quite the opposite. Then after six months they hired her. They had seen her tremendous talent and potential. And she leap-frogged all of us in the most beautiful way into a job that was far bigger, had far more responsibility, came with a bigger salary and was absolutely perfect for her.
As a fellow inmate I cheered to see her bounding free of the prison walls. Not the prison of the organisation, but the prison of imagined limitations.
And then a few months later I left the organisation and set up my own business - Oceans Collective - and I too felt the giddy sense of freedom. I was Chief Executive and Cleaner and Procurement Manager and IT Helpdesk.
And so now I believe fervently in breaking out and slipping the surly bonds of small. My mission is to help others to notice the invisible limitations and assumptions that keep them in one place. And then to test them. And to keep testing them until they have smashed down all the walls they don’t want, whilst keeping the ones they quite like – for now.
And that’s my story. What’s yours going to be?