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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Visit your heroines and heroes (Commandment of Career Change #6)

In 1967, a 12 year old boy looked up the phone number of the CEO of Hewlett Packard (HP) in his local phone book. He wanted to build a frequency counter but didn’t have the parts. So he figured the CEO might be able to help. That brave, young boy made the phone call and got to speak to the CEO. He also got the parts he wanted and was offered a summer job at HP for his efforts. Through the job he was able to nurture his passion for electronics. He eventually became the co-founder and CEO of Apple – Steve Jobs.

There’s no telling where an act of innocent enthusiasm can lead you. Following the trail of your curiosity can bring about opportunities that no amount of rational and realistic strategising could. If Steve Jobs had been sensible in a conventional sense, things could have been very different for him and the world.

I've seen this in my own journey. Working on high-level programmes with the United Nations in 2015 was not planned. It came about as a result of a series of serendipitous events (backed with commitment to progress and openness). One event in particular was pivotal: a chance encounter in a lift! I could never have engineered this meeting as I didn’t have the information necessary…

All along my professional journey, I was supported if not guided by heroines and heroes of mine. They included people I knew in person, people I didn’t know and people I would never know as they had already passed away. For example, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King were always a source of profound inspiration in facing challenges and embodying compassion. Mother Teresa’s empathy, intelligence and resilience resonated deeply with me, so visiting her tomb at Mother House in Kolkata and seeing some of her work was an important moment.

Your heroines and heroes might be colleagues, family, friends, authors, public figures, sages, etc. They help you in two ways:

Tangible help: contacts, introductions, opportunities, information, resources, etc.

Intangible help: by being role models, they help us to refine our professional identity. They enable a deeper understanding of which aspects of ourselves we want to draw on or cultivate and which aspects we want to let go of.

So if you ever feel moved to do something that appears overly ambitious, follow that impulse and let it come through as an action of some kind. Send that email, make that phone call, take that trip…You never know what amazing opportunities it might lead you to!…

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