“ I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” NM
A year ago I left my job (a job I very much enjoyed I might add) all bright eyed and bushy tailed. I had some ideas and a few plans. And then, well, 2020 hit.
And if I’m honest those plans all turned into one….pay the bills. I ended up doing the classic thing of taking on too much because I wasn’t sure of what was coming next. All in all though, 2020 turned out to be an interesting year work wise. I worked with some fantastic organisations and met some wonderful people.
So a year in, I thought I’d allow myself a quick reflection and also a look forward to year two of The Good Ship
What I learned
- Freelancers are bloody awesome. I joined a group of tech/data for good freelancers set up by Nissa @thinksocialtech . A bunch of very open, helpful people sharing ideas, work opportunities and the occasional (zoom) beer. Thanks to you all. I also want to say a special thank you to those such as Elizabeth who reached out regarding work during the early stages. It may not have worked out, but I’ll always appreciate the thought!
- Working with others can sometimes be hard, but it will make you and your work better. My new saying is “if you want to be right do it alone, if you want to get it right do it together. “ I’ve worked with some excellent people. One of the best and most challenging has been working with Liz Pepler and Richard Frost on some work with LBFEW. Three consultants with different ways of working, different skills and different perspectives has been tough….but really really good. I think it has brought out the best in each of us. Thank you both.
- If you set up your company with a name just so you can make a newsletter entitled “A whole load of Good Ship” you should probably do at least one newsletter tom…
- Spend money on things that make your life easier, you’ll thank yourself later. Scheduling apps, accounting software, knowledge tools, a nice mouse, a desk, a nice chair (honestly I sat on a kitchen chair for 3 years for no reason!)
- Be clear about your offer, what you will do, and what people can expect from you. Set boundaries. I deliver good work, on time, but that doesn’t mean I am going to have a meeting at 4pm on Friday unless it is absolutely, completely amazingly important.
- Be yourself, bring you to your work.
- Do things that make you happy. Some of the most rewarding things I’ve done have been just because I wanted to. No one paid me. It has given me a lift when I needed it, and has connected me with some excellent people along the way.
- And on the same note, go outside, go running, drink coffee, smell the grass, stare at the sea, go in the sea, listen to music . Whatever, but do something other than work. Try to do it everyday, you’ll be more productive.
- People who work in charities or the social purpose sector are bloody amazing. I knew this, but this year especially has shown how phenomenal you all are.
Going freelance or on your own gives you freedom. Use it.
So a year on, it feels like I’m maturing into doing this. And I wanted to think about the next year. I’m quite lucky that I have a couple of pieces of work that are going to last over the next year, so it gives me the opportunity to be picky about anything else I do.
What I’m planning
- @emrosebaz wrote something while ago about defining your values and living them. I think she was suggesting narrowing down to three, but that maybe one is the key. I’ve thought about that a lot since. So this year I’m going with being brave, or having courage.
- Developing more consistency with writing and creating. To help me do this I’ve committed to doing or making something on the last Friday of the month. I’m hoping that others will join in and we’ll just have a little community of making stuff for the fun of it and just getting it out there. I’ll be putting it out on #DoItMakeItShareIt
- I’m also working on a project called “The spaces in-between” which is somewhat inspired by Miles Davis “Music is the space between the notes” quote
- Continuing to build a data for good collective in the North East. This still feels important to me. I’ve recently joined up with the DataJamNE people bringing some voluntary sector insight, and think this is a good space to develop the data for good cause in the North East. Being a part of the Data4GoodFest in May will also be excellent. If you are remotely interested in data you should check them both out!
- Get to share some of the work I’ve been doing on Organisational and system resilience with LBFEW. It’s in a pilot phase at the moment, and seems to be going well, so hopefully it gets taken to more places and I can share all the thinking that goes along with it. This has taken A LOT of my time and I’ve really enjoyed it, but I want it out there now!
- Get to work with some excellent organisations again. The LBFEW Infrastructure Programme means I get to work with 15 Infrastructure organisations over the next 12 months. I believe good infrastructure is vital, so very excited to be playing a small part in that again. Also pleased I’ll be doing some work with the Kiyan Prince Foundation again. A small charity doing some amazing work. Thanks Anne Faulkner for letting me be a small part of the work there.
- Doing some more work with @mrtomfrench on data, CRM’s and sector challenges.
- Go for beers/coffees/gigs/pizza seriously whatever with all the people who I chat with but never get to see. I’m actually quite an introverted person who is super happy spending days in the mountains alone. But my god I miss people (can’t image what you extrovert people are feeling at the moment!)
- Leaving space to just learn, chat and do interesting things. So if anyone wants to just chat. Look me up here, on twitter or just book a call here
You can follow Tom on Twitter