Updated: Sep 3, 2020
As sources of inspiration go, Crocodile Dundee II was probably not a film that would have
crossed my mind on the path to enlightenment! However, my thoughts behind this post were most definitely prompted by a particular scene in this film - a film that I hadn't watched for many years until this weekend. More of the scene in question shortly...
The question of what I should put on the bottom of my shiny new business cards was one that occupied my mind for several days and weeks when I started on my own path as a consultant.
I didn't feel like a CEO, or a Director, or an owner, or a Founder, or a COO, or simply a consultant. I equally didn't feel like an educator, a facilitator, an 'L&D' professional or a coach. I did, however, have an overwhelming sense that I didn't want to feel constrained by a few words on an email signature or the top of a CV. I wanted my 'job title' to describe me, my passion and a little about the person behind the business card. I wanted it to portray a little of why I had decided to be brave and bold and go it alone for a while. And so I stumbled upon the phrase 'leader, change agent and chaser of dreams'. Chaser of dreams. How does that make you feel?
Yes, there have been very mixed reactions to my choice! Mostly positive and curious, which is ideal, really, as curiosity often leads to engaging conversation - a great place to start any relationship, working or otherwise. But equally there has been confusion, dismissal, laughter and the suggestion from someone recently that I need to lose the 'chaser of dreams' as 'nobody works to chase dreams, it's just work...and it won't inspire them to employ you'. And maybe they are right. Maybe I do need to find a better a better way to describe what I do, what I offer?
What I do know is that this recent conversation, alongside other challenges and the usual period of self-reflection at the end of each year, has really prompted me to question whether being a 'chaser of dreams' is really something I wish to pursue. Perhaps it is a little too 'woolly' and 'non-corporate'? Perhaps this mis-guided, but well-intentioned attempt to be a little more authentic, has lost something in translation?
And so the temptation to ditch the left-field title and go with a more standard strap line such as 'L&D Professional' or 'Director' was beginning to gather pace...but then I found myself watching Crocodile Dundee II on a rainy Saturday night in Scotland whilst sipping Lemsip and chain-sucking Strepsils! Which brings me back to the opening paragraph and the inspiration of Crocodile Mick Dundee.
There is this scene where Mick is being followed, but he knows he is being followed, and outwits his rather obvious pursuer with his usual ease and charm. Which turned out to be my moment of inspiration! If this is what following is, why would I want to just follow my dreams? From this scene, following appears to mean that you literally shadow every footstep someone else has created, often whilst trying to conceal your identity. So why on earth would I want to just follow my dreams?
To me, dreams are dynamic, ever evolving concepts that grow and shift as life moves on and our learning continues. They are always seemingly elusive, just out of reach, as we continually move our own goalposts to push and challenge ourselves as we experience new things and develop new understanding about what is really possible. Which inspires me to want to do everything I can to try and catch that dream. I want to chase them; breathless and excited by their potential; I want to do everything within my power and knowledge and awareness to be active and physically chase those dreams. Following feels passive to me; chasing feels dynamic and active and just what is needed if you are ever to catch that dream.
Yes, there will be disasters along the way. I will fall flat on my face in the mud as I attempt to get into the maze before anyone else (I was 5). I will slip on the ice as I skid across a snow-filled car-park to get closer to the band (it was New Year). I will hit the wall at 21 miles of a marathon after setting off way too fast (it was London). But I will learn. I will get back up. I will dust myself off and I will re-start the pursuit. And even if I don't quite catch the dream, I will know more, understand more and have connected more than I ever thought possible.
And yet there will be times when I will happily follow. I will willingly follow great leaders; I will follow them to learn from them. I will follow to discover new places; I will follow when I am afraid; I will follow to support others; I will follow when things feel confused. I will follow so I can learn when to follow and when to chase. And I will keep chasing. I will keep chasing those dreams, and perhaps if you have some personal or organisational goals that need chasing this year, then we will meet for coffee and conversation in 2018.
Chase your dreams; I will keep chasing mine.