Blood spatters and scars.......memories of my first week as a company director.
I found this writing tucked away in a draft folder on my website.According to the content is must be more than six years old.It casts a humorous over my first week of working for myself, full time Director of Alpamayo Coaching, consultant, coach, driver, and consumer of fast food! It reminds me of the various escapades of that first week when delivery and business development all got rather chaotic, as I ran at everything like a bull in a china-shop.It also reminds me of the importance of humour to me in everyday and professional life.A smile and a laugh even in, perhaps particularly in, serious situations opens up all sorts of possibilities.
The first week as a company directory has been fab. Lots of good meetings, a sense of everything being new and shiny, clarity of purpose and much more besides. Of course, as well as being the director I am PA, driver, administrator, project manager and all other roles besides…never a dull moment.
In the first case it was getting towards the end of a very long day with the prospect of another meeting in the evening. I was looking forward to this one but I needed to be on good form and I was definitely suffering from a lack of food. I decided that I had time to get to a chippy for haddock and chips which I could eat en-route given the likely stop start traffic to be expected across Southampton at the time.
The frying was being done fresh which was good for taste but not for my timekeeping. I scurried back to my car and resolved to grab a mouthful or two before setting off. With great care I unwrapped the blistering hot food on the passenger seat. For some reason I was organised enough to find something that was acceptable as a napkin (okay, close inspection would not have passed an evaluation from the HSE!). I dove in for a chip or two and then remembered I had a tomato ketchup packet. It was not one of the small blister packs but a squeezy container which carried a significant payload! I did not pause to consider how long the container had been in the car, or indeed how hot the car was. Fermentation and expansion being what it is the impact of breaking the seal on this packet was spectacular. The ketchup payload delivered well beyond expectation - it went nearly everywhere!
I looked in the rear view mirror and found a face that seemed like it came from the accidental shooting scene with Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. I did not have recourse to ‘the Wolf’ so had to do some serious cleaning up before either eating any more or getting on the road. It was probably a good thing that the only items not touched by the sauce were the fish and chips themselves. Thank heavens for the foresight of the napkin and for the fact that nobody was recording a ketchup spattered, car bound, laughing lunatic on their smartphone.
I did get to my meeting with only the minimum of grease spots on my clothes and the maximum of developing indigestion and elected to come clean by telling everyone of the incident in case there were any red splats still in evidence. Regardless, I reeked of salt and vinegar anyway which required some explanation!
The following day I got home quite late. We have recently moved to a lovely house in the countryside with some charmingly low beams that offer pain alongside their charm. There are about three high risk places for the top of my head and I have learned to avoid crashing in to them … eventually. On this occasion I was not paying attention although clearly my subconscious crash detector was active and alert. As I turned through a doorway my detection system must have sensed the lightest touch on one of the limited number of hairs on my head. I now fully understand what a hair trigger is. It set off an evasive action in relation to which I was almost an observer given that I had no control over it. I ducked very sharply but failed to move only within the vertical axis. Movement in the horizontal access turned my duck into a head butt which I applied, at speed, to the door surround.
I have blanked out the sea of pain and spectacular bout of bad language that came after the respectful silence that always follows such an episode. An hour later with a blazing headache I found a mirror to check the damage and saw a weird facsimile of Harry Potter looking back at me. Okay, the scar was not Z shaped and I did not feel any particularly special powers but an impressive three centimetre scar/scab was testament to the outcome of a match in which the door frame was the winner.
While a wipe down with a cloth removed my Vincent Vega impression at a stroke I had to live with Harry Potter scar for the following week. Every meeting involved people looking slightly above my eye line with a questioning look in their demeanour. I would respond by mentioning something about door frames and they would knowingly develop their own narrative as to what had really happened to me.
That's somehow fitting in my first week as a coaching consultant given so much of what I do is about helping people to understand their own narratives while appreciating that other people will hold different ones. I am lucky with my own story line leading me in new directions, and that it allows for a bit of a laugh and some good old fashioned self-mockery!
Image from Vecteezy.com