Mark Simmonds – Breakdown and Repair – Author Glassboard
MARK SIMMONDS [00:00:07] I think I’ve found the secret to a fulfilling career. Involves two circles. First of all, there is the circle of me. And second of all, there is the circle of work. I’d like to come back to those two circles a bit later. My name is Mark Simmonds and I’m a management trainer working in the area of creativity and innovation. I love my job. About four months ago, I had my first book published called Breakdown and Repair, and it’s a story of two mental health episodes in my life. One as a sufferer and one as a carer. I’d like to talk about the former because it’s relevant to the two circles.
MARK SIMMONDS [00:01:00] So one day in July 2001, I was cycling down this country road when all of a sudden I threw myself in front of a 10 ton truck. It appears I tried to take my own life. In the previous four months I had been suffering from agitated depression, brought on by stress at work. And 12 months previous to that, I had set up a new agency with two very gifted individuals that turned out to be a big mistake. Big, big mistake. Okay, so this is why it was a big mistake. There were four factors. And now I’d like to return, if I can, to the two circles and begin with the circle of me. So first of all, there were my genes. I was a I was born with two special genes. The first of those special genes was the winner gene. I was always very, very competitive. I mean, I’ve been competitive throughout my life. Always like taking part. Succeeding, winning, playing sport. That was great. But unfortunately, it was partnered the same time by my second special gene called my worry gene. I was always quite a nervous individual. I always have been, I’ve always suffered from stress anxiety. I wouldn’t be in the kind of person, therefore, to have to take that match winning penalty to win the World Cup or to serve out for the match against Roger Federer to win Wimbledon for the fifth time. The two were always conflicting with one another. The second of the factors were the looking at my personality. So if we think about, Barack Obama, we think about J.K. Rowling, what they’ve got in common is they’re both very, very strong introverts. They get all that energy from within. By contrast, if you think about Margaret Thatcher or Muhammad Ali from back in the day, they were both very, very strong extroverts. They get their energy, got their energy from being around other people. So what then happens if you are a strong extrovert and you spend too much time alone, your energy starts to sap. Ditto for introvert, if you spend too much time with other people you start to spend too much time thinking about all sorts of things, your energy starts to dissipate. So I was 70, 30, introvert, extrovert on an axis. It’s really important to find situations and circumstances where you can really maximise your introversion.
MARK SIMMONDS [00:03:27] Okay, looking at the third of the factors that we can now think about, what it is that motivates you. Are you a task person? Like to get things done in business terms, you want to complete a business plan. You want to launch a new product. You want to start developing a marketing campaign. Are you a do do do task person? Or a more of a people person who likes to develop people? Who likes to coach, to mentor. I was much more of the latter. I mean, to be honest, I should’ve been a teacher in my life before entering the world of business. The fourth of the factors is down to ambition. On the ambition scale, where do you sit? Are you prepared to give up everything to try to get what you want? Are you prepared to sacrifice a work life balance to reach the top? Or are you a little bit more relaxed about life? And again, I was probably in the middle here, you know, neither at the very edge of success or imitation or at the other edge of sitting on a sofa. So fundamentally, what we had here was my circle of me was we kind of had a sort of a worrying winner who was a bit of a closet introvert who was more into people than task. And fundamentally was midway on that ambition scale. I’d found myself in a work environment that was at odds with the circle of me. So when we actually compare the circle of work with the circle of me, this is what we find. Genetically, we didn’t really have room for a worrier, an anxious person. We were setting up a new business and we just had to get on with things. So that didn’t work in my favour. In terms of personality, I mean, we just had to go out and be with people and be around people and be there for people. So being us, a closer introvert really wasn’t gonna help things, that was against me. As far as motivation was concerned, we had to get things done. We did develop business plans, sort out the legal stuff, sort out the financial stuff here. People were important but fundamentally is by getting things done. Again, that was against me. And the fourth thing here was intense ambition. The two other work colleagues were driven people, very successful, very talented. And they can left me behind a little bit, to be honest, here. So really, we kind of had four crosses. So where we end up therefor,e is we kind of end up with two circles that really are not that compatible, they’re not really working out together. But the thing was, I was just desperate for the circles to match. I mean, I’d spent years trying to set up my own business. And what was happening was I was trying to make sure that I could push my circle towards the circle of work. But what happened was the circle of work just kept pushing back. So we ended up with almost like this electric fence down the middle here, where it seemed the more I pushed towards the circular work, the more push back, push, push, push, push back. And it became more and more painful until one day my brain said, look, enough is enough, stop. And that’s when I was cycling down a country road, one fine day. And, well, you know what happens next.
MARK SIMMONDS [00:06:41] I think this is the secret. Look, if you want to really have a fulfilling career, what you can’t do is fight between the circles. So I think what we’ve got to do now is we’ve got to literally start finding a way where the circles can start talking to each other much more easily. And rather having two circles that are in conflict with one another. Well, I’d like to suggest, as we got to try to find circles that have a much greater overlap. So the greater the overlap that we have, the more that the circle in common, the much better chance that you’ve got is having a career that’s gonna last and where you’re going to be enjoying it and where, therefore, as a result, you might be successful. If you don’t have that happening, then what’s going to happen is that gradually and slowly the circles will fight each other until you know what’s gonna happen. Although I don’t say this is the secret to finding a fulfilling career, I do think it’s a pretty good start.