Saturday, 4 October 2008

Laura's story: Career Inspiration

Every now and then - almost without fail - a personal story about work comes along that is just plain inspiring. Such stories are hard to do justice when they are re-told because the person telling their own story brings it to life best. I hope the following story doesn't lose too much in translation. 

Laura's family had a successful restaurant business. She worked in the restaurants from an early age and loved the interaction with the customers and being part of the team. She was talented, hard-working and the natural choice to lead the business in the future. After leaving school everyone expected Laura to continue in the family business but to their surprise, she turned this down to pursue a career elsewhere.

After carving out a successful entrepreneurial career in property development, having a family, buying several houses at home and abroad - all without family assistance - Laura had reached a key moment in her career. After a lot of thought, she surprised everyone again, this time by choosing to join the family business.

This story has been simplified a great deal but although it misses the vibrancy of its original telling it can still inspire. This is because it demonstrates a number of attributes essential to a successful relationship with work: determination, commitment, self-sacrifice, humility, self-direction, clarity of thought, the list could go on. But, more than any of these, Laura's story demonstrates the value of exploring your relationship with work at a fundamental level.

Laura could have easily taken the job in her family's business and been very successful but she realised - at an earlier age than most - that success without personal meaning isn't enough. Laura wanted to prove to herself that she was the best candidate to lead the family business and that this career choice was relevant to her values, talents and goals once she understood them better. Laura's reward is the knowledge that a genuine connection did exist and that with it comes a greater chance of success with personal meaning and a far more rewarding relationship with work.

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