A few weeks ago Arran and I traveled to Bintan, Indonesia, an hour’s Ferry trip from Singapore, to compete in Tour de Bintan. I use the word “compete” loosely . Very loosely. Tour de Bintan is like Tour de France in that it’s a cycling event but perhaps less glamourous (not as much French accents, beautiful scenery and cheese and wine for my liking), much shorter (it’s not a grand tour) however it is professionally run and a qualifying event for the UCI World Championships (for those who are actually good at cycling).
I was going in part to support Arran with some of his business and job interests and because it was a goal in my training diary. Last year I participated and my goal was to complete the 55k event, which at the time was a big goal. I don’t think I had cycled that far to date and the course is very hilly, in comparison to flat Singapore where I had been training for less than 3 months.
Last year my goal was to finish the full 55km without getting heat stroke and ending up in hospital! Pretty inspiring hey? (smacks myself in the forehead). Reaching for the stars right there. For 2019 my goal, without thinking about it too much, was to beat my last year’s time. I never even thought about heat stroke! Look at that progress hey? Anyway I beat my time by over 10 mins with more hills than last year and at a faster average speed. Was pretty pleased with myself except for the bit where I hadn’t been able to train for the week after, and had to spend close to $200 on a physio for my sore knee. Details, details.
Anyway this was not the point of this post. The point of the post is that we travelled to Bintan without the kids which was pretty nice. This meant that on the Saturday while Arran was competing (and he actually was because he is a good cyclist) I had some time to myself. My coach had set me an hour ride to “blow out the cobwebs” on Saturday before the big event on Sunday. Yes I have a long suffering coach who perhaps doesn’t appreciate my lack of athleticism, but does appreciate my sense of humour! Apart from that I had planned a facial, a massage and some reflection time.
It would be fair to say that I haven’t completely found my career groove back in Singapore. I love being back in the Country. I love the weather and the opportunities for my kids and Arran and I, but career wise it has been a struggle. I have worked hard and been given some great opportunities which I am very grateful for, but they haven’t been a perfect fit. Being alone in Bintan was an opportunity to reflect on what would make my heart sing. I created a mind map, wrote some statements and some actions to work on over the coming weeks.
This felt like a really important thing to do as I’m going on a Knowledge and Study tour with Business Chicks to LA at the end of April. It was a significant personal financial investment, a time investment away from the family and had to take precious annual leave, which I never seem to have enough of.
The next week I met up with a Singapore friend for some wine. We were both feeling a little the same about work and life and needed to chat. Part of the chat was that she wanted me to help her run an event with her. I love running events. I must have been an event planner in a former life. I love thinking about the experience of the participants, what will inspire and challenge them, what they will learn, how they will interact with the other participants. I love running leadership training and diversity events and helping people to network beyond swapping business cards over beer and wine. Finally I love helping women being better and stronger and tell their story.
For International Women’s Day this year I was given the opportunity to interview two amazing women athletes, an Olympic mountain-biker and an ultra-long distance runner, for International Cycling Executives in Singapore. I loved helping them tell their stories. And it wasn’t just on the night. I loved thinking about how their stories related to the themes of International Womens Day, and which parts of their stories the audience would resonate and connect with and how to best organize the questions to pull everything together. I try to spend at least a couple of hours with the interviewees to ask lots of questions and really understand them. I love putting together “curated” conversations.
My friend wanted me to run an event with her, because she knows I love running events. She is truly passionate about her cause and had a compelling reason as to why I should be involved. But over the next few days I remembered back to the last Business Chicks event I attending in Fiji, where one of my favorite speakers Layne Beachley talked about that when opportunities come to you, what is your first reaction? Is it “hell yes” or “shit no”. I’m just going to take a little side bar that I got to swim with Layne (7 times world surfing champion) in the bay of the Marriot resort in Momi Bay in Fiji. Was one of the coolest unexpected experiences.
I loved my friends enthusiasm and wanted to collaborate with her, when I thought about the things that make my heart sing and how little time I have to do the things I love, unfortunately because my reaction wasn’t “hell yes” at first and wasn’t “hell yes” on reflection, I had to say no.
I have used “hell yes” or “shit no” when coaching leaders and it’s great because it helps guide conversations to make good decisions. A recent session was with someone trying to make a decision about a new role and whether the leader should accept it. She told me she was interested in the role, but the money on offer was a lot less than her recent corporate job paid. My first question to her was what was her first reaction when offered the role? It wasn’t one or the other! She wanted the opportunity to do something different from what she had been doing for many years. She wanted the General Management opportunity on offer and the different experiences it would give her. But the money was rubbish. Really rubbish and I never encourage women to accept less money than they are worth. I’m usually helping them to negotiate up (gender pay gap and all).
We were able to establish that the opportunity was a good one and she wanted to accept, so we focused our discussion on what she could negotiate on that would give the company what they wanted and needed and what could work for the leader. We talked about timelines and non-negotiables and she was able to have a good conversation with her future employer and accepted the role. She may not do this role long term but at least now she is clear on what she wants to learn, why she accepted the role and where her career is headed.
I love “hell yes” and “shit no”, not just because it focuses you on what’s really important and captures your first instincts about an opportunity, but because it allows discussion of options and helps you work through decisions that may not be black and white.