I know it’s Saturday as I write this, and this might count as work. And some people might say “But you’re a 4-day working week?” but I just happen to like a lot of things in life that might LOOK like work.
But they’re more about just being interested in things like how people think and interrelate, what systems in the world do to how we behave and how we shape what’s around us.
So call this my ongoing study (non-academic) programme in the world of the psychology of human beings on Planet Earth.
Where work is a big part of that but not just about glorifying brands and corporations. But just stuff we humans do for other humans.
I am listening to a podcast from someone I’ve come to admire, respect and like — Katarina Primozic and in conversation with Helena Mah. You can listen here if you like — it’s a really insightful, real and genuine exchange. About the world of work and the things, we do, in leading and focusing on what matters to ourselves and our fellow humans. People-first leadership came through loud and clear in this exchange.
Prior to this, Katarina and I had a fabulous conversation about things we’re up to in our work on Thursday and we touched on a range of issues and challenges. Women in technology careers, new, fresh and diverse ranges to appeal to people to join the technology industry and operations in shorter weeks that get more from people whilst giving more back so they live more flourishing lives whilst helping businesses do good.
Listening to this podcast got me thinking about how people find themselves in the places they do (both literally and psychologically).
It’s some engineering, privileges, circumstances and maybe it’s a whole heap of luck that plays a big role in where we find ourselves.
Life and work are often like a game of chance and chances to win, lose, or make choices about destiny and prosperity.
Did I want to be a Business Owner in my younger days? No. I had a chance, forced by the collapse of my then job-based career (self-derived and circumstances/systems). I took that chance. It’s been tougher than I’ve ever let on but also the most engaging thing I’ve done in my years of contributing to life on this planet.
Yes, what I’m doing is this thing called work and it has become so important to me, it is a huge part of defining who I am. That came to me by chance (I hadn’t set this out in my formative years) and because I took chances (risks that resulted in the forced-choice) and the chances to do what I really believe in, was presented to me by the people I came into contact with, and the learning I somehow architected; to be who I now am.
Did I want to stand in the space of being referred to as an influencer in HR? No. I didn’t feel like I had what it takes to be that and still retain doubts, lots of doubts.
I looked at and admired others in those spaces in my early days in the People professional field and never aspired to be there. Or displace them. Or take down their views or anything like it. I had a range of chances to share things I did and believed in. And that opens up a field. I took every chance possible — and still do — to talk to people because they’re inviting me to. They’re taking a chance on me, I’m taking chances to do what they want me to do.
I’ve never marketed myself to people to speak at events or join podcasts or be quoted. It’s chance and chances. Do I enjoy it and like it? I think it’s evident from my energy in those conversations that of course I do. Do I have an ego about it? Honestly, no.
Anyway, it’s not about me, but I’ll use myself as an example of what I mean here. And how it’s a reflection on how you find yourself in a particular space or specific role or a certain situation, and it’s all about chance and chances.
Chance — being in the right place, at the right time with the right circumstances that allow things to happen in your favour.
Chances — having choices to do things in pursuit of something that’s important to you and at best, more important than you’ll ever be as an individual.
Back to Katarina. Someone who through chance, and taking chances, leads on People & Culture & Communications at NIL Slovenia — a technology enterprise that continues to grow.
Now how Katarina finds herself — in the role and the things she is leading on in a People-First manner — is a complex series of chances and chance. I’ll zoom back to me for a bit just to show how this works.
I had the chance to join HR as a professional field in 2003 because I took a chance and asked to be mentored by a Senior HR leader who inspired me so much.
By chance, this led to me being on the career path I am still on and I took chances to work on projects, learn and impact on the work I did in that new field.
Which led to someone coming across my work and inviting me to join the new organisational function he was stabilising as HR Director. I took my chances on that move after 21 years in the same organisation.
Which led to me having a rich and opportunity-ladened world to do things with impact. Which, by chance resulted in my professional body (the CIPD) coming to our organisation and studying us.
Which led to me being invited to speak about things I had done in that one place to share with others. A talent programme I took a chance on and by chance, came to others' attention. By chance, I met Roxana Mocanu because I took the chance when the booked speaker couldn’t make it so I stepped in.
Which led me to an invitation to speak at Roxana’s event in Romania — and I took the chance to present to a totally different audience about my work.
Which led to me being recommended to speak at TEDx Bucharest (through Ana and Catalina). Which was recorded in November 2014. Someone took a chance on me, and I took a chance on a big deal.
In 2016 I was invited to speak at an event in Slovenia by Laura Smrekar who had seen the TEDx from 2014. Laura took a chance on me, and I took that chance.
Laura’s company Competo became a close partner and featured when I took the chance to write a book (Transformational HR) when Kogan Page as a publisher took a chance on me as an author.
In 2019, I ran a Hackathon with Competo and met Katarina. The Competo team took a chance on me delivering something of innovation value to their partners, clients and network. Katarina took a chance on encouraging her company to come to this and learn and innovate.
In 2020, Katarina took a chance on me to run a Future Talent programme with her precious emerging superstars to shape the future of NIL. We took a chance on each other and created chances for others. In November of that year, Katarina’s Talent Lab won a Slovenian Management Association award for SMEs.
Before that, in earlier 2020, I took a chance on proposing Labs to a client and the coronavirus negated that but we took a chance on Labs at People and Transformational HR Ltd. as our reaction and reinvention to the lockdown restrictions of a world in need of adaptation.
So Katarina and I have been the beneficiaries of chance and taken chances — on each other, for each other and for an impactful change in the work we do and the impact we want to have in the world. To create chances for our respective businesses and the people within them.
Just as my mentor, my former HR Director, my professional body, my close contacts and fellow business activists, organisations and fellow professionals continue to do.
Just as Kirsten, Jess, Cata, Katy, Clare, Alice, Jenny, Tom, Sarah, Ann-Marie, Tamasin, Adrienne, Maddy, Barbara, Alessia, Rishita, Lena and Meg have in working alongside me, with me and with each other. Chance and chances.
So it’s chance and chances. Life, work, success, learning.
So please do remember that.
Where you are is a result of you having the chance, chance coming your way, and the chances you take and make.