The twists and turns of my working life have all come together to form one road – the challenging and rewarding job I love today.
The twists and turns of my working life have all come together to form one road – the challenging and rewarding job I love today. Photo Think Stock

Why life experiences are never wasted

I HAVEN'T always been a performance coach and facilitator; I came to it quite late compared with some because I still hadn't decided what I wanted to do or be when I grew up. Can you relate?

Before that, I had done many things: sales assistant, cabinet making, working for a psychiatrist, event organising, business development, marketing, hospitality, being a travel agent and much more. Some roles were fun and some were acutely unrewarding.

While that seems (and was) a random approach, I now realise that each role, in its own way, has contributed to where I am now and led me to what I do and how I do it.

Along the way, I believe certain things have been key.

The first was growing up in densely-populated, multicultural London, which shaped my tolerance, acceptance and interest in relation to diverse cultures and nationalities.

It was wonderful to experience how they combined to create a beautiful, complex blend that makes London such a fascinating city to visit.

The second was my curiosity, particularly around language in general and foreign languages in particular, inherited from my father who encouraged me to learn some of them. Starting, at five, with the Norwegian national anthem during a long car journey, other European languages followed.

It taught me that being able to communicate in someone else's language, however elementary, while frustrating and embarrassing at times, builds trust and understanding and is always well received, often accompanied by laughter.

The third? I started to lose my hearing in my early 30s, and that was a gift although I didn't see it that way at the time.

It means that, with about 50% hearing in each ear, even with hearing aids I need to really listen and be sure that I have heard and understood what a person is saying.

So I have come to recognise that tolerance, acceptance, genuine interest, language and listening are vital in all relationships and particularly when your role focuses on effective communication and perception-shifting conversations.

I have finally found what I love to do. It challenges me, teaches me and combines my interest in people with my desire to be of service to others.

And finally I realise how all of the twists and turns that got me here were random yet relevant and I wouldn't be where or who I am today without them.

Rowena Hardy is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned: