Ikigai


I love what I do. I feel lucky to have been able to make a move at a fairly early stage in my career from retail management into people development. It was a risk. I didn’t know it was absolutely the right thing for me and I had no qualifications or experience in developing people. But I knew that what I loved most about my job as a manager was developing my team and if I could do more of that then I wanted to explore what that looked like.


I looked at jobs in Learning and Development but they all required me to have qualifications and experience which I didn’t have. Then I came across an advert for a role in the learning team at Safeway. They didn’t care whether I knew anything about how people learn, they were looking for people with retail backgrounds and the right personalities (at the time this meant someone who was prepared to play air guitar at interview…ah, the 90s) The catch was that it was only a six month contract. I decided to take the risk and that six months turned into two years at Safeway where they taught me so much about facilitating and how people learn best. Those two years in turn have become twenty years of doing a job I love.


Something else I love is motorbikes. I’m part of a Facebook group called Motorbike Women and on it we discuss all things motorbikey but more often than anything else we talk about fear, nerves, lack of confidence. This might be in the context of taking the bike tests (there are many and they are complex), riding with new people or in groups, getting back into motorcycling after a long time or getting back on after an accident.


As a female biker I know about being frightened and as a specialist in mental toughness I know a whole lot about how to manage that. So I offered a free workshop ‘Mental Toughness for Motorbike Women’ expecting a handful of women to sign up. The response was overwhelming. I ended up training 150 women in techniques to manage their inner chimp, calm nerves, manage stress and start building their confidence.


I talk about there being joy to be found once we can get beyond fear. There is also joy to be found in working with ‘your tribe’. A zoom room full of motorbike women sharing their experiences, talking about how they overcome their demons and discovering that they are not alone is a joyous, joyous place.


They say don’t offer free stuff, don’t work for free but when you love it and you can make a difference why not? Sometimes wonderful things happen. New connections were made through those workshops. As a result I’m now going to be speaking at the Women in Motorcycling Exhibition in August. Because of those free workshops I’m talking to the UK’s biggest bike insurance company about how we collaborate.


I love what I do, it makes a difference, people need it, I get paid for it and now it involves motorbikes. Ikigai my friends, Ikigai.


*Ikigai is a Japanese concept referring to having a direction or purpose in life, providing a sense of fulfillment and towards which the person may take actions, giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning. Wikipedia