20 years, 14 jobs and four industries later, I’ve mastered the ability to disrupt my career on demand, at even the slightest hint of boredom… and it’s time to stop.
Up till last week, I was determined to fully ‘master marketing’, as part of my mastery journey at Reapra. It didn’t even matter that I didn’t fully comprehend what that even meant — to ‘master marketing’. I mean seriously, that spectrum is so broad, being proficient is just one aspect of marketing, say digital, would have been a ridiculously spectacular achievement. So despite that nagging feeling that this mastery aspiration was a fool’s errand, I went after it regardless. Why? Because, I’ve been doing exactly that for 20 years. No, not going on paths of futility, but rather, being mission-oriented to a fault.
You Want Me To Do What? Consider It Done.
I started my career in TV at the height of a recession. Flashbacks of me as a fresh, broke graduate counting coins for my bus fare to get to a job interview, still haunt me till today. I was so determined to get to work, that once in the producer’s office for the interview, I made an offer she could not refuse. I’d work for free on my first segment, and she was free to offer the job, but ONLY if my work was satisfactory.
“So right from the start, I was all about the mission.”
From that day, every job was a mission to be completed. I wasn’t interested in a career per se, I was just in it to complete it. The most definitive indication of completion to me, was when I got bored. And that usually happens at very predictable career, or industry-defining milestones. They ranged from securing season finale scripting rights as a rookie scriptwriter, winning industry awards and even getting fledging magazine titles sold off to bigger publishers. In fact, with few exceptions, most missions were completed in exactly one and a half years – and hence I move on. Many times over.
Been There, Done That. Next.
So when Reapra founder, Shuhei, and my reporting manager, Masaki, who’s the CFO said to me, “choose your mastery journey,” about eight months ago, my mission-oriented mind declared with absolute confidence, “marketing.” After eight years of battling in the corporate marketing trenches, I was so ready to own this journey. However, in retrospect, I can safely say that my initial declaration for mastery was made with a large serving of hubris, and a substantial dollop of ignorance. Hubris, stemming from my past successes as a regional marketing director, and ignorance — mostly from my go-to strategy of jumping head-first into an impossible mission, not knowing the details, and savouring the lessons learnt along the way.
But alas, my inadequate self-reflection and the misunderstanding of my own motives from a meta-perspective, has led me down a confusing path. To which the aforementioned epiphanous instance, presented itself during the most unexpected moment. While discussing my chosen mastery with Masaki, it dawned upon me that I was close to reaching another milestone moment in Reapra. Right about the year and a half mark. And then it hit me, it’s NOT ABOUT MARKETING. It’s not even about what I do in principle, for a living. It’s hardly even what I thought it was. That nagging feeling that there has to be more? Well here it is :
“I have to stop being bored. I have to settle down. That’s it.”
That’s my mastery journey. I must find career peace, and most importantly, a sustainable way to keep going — without disrupting myself at every given milestone and achievement.
An End, Hopefully, To My Mercenary Ways.
So now, I have to find a way to, for lack of a better term, ‘settle down’ in my career. To obtain or beat a path towards a fulfilling and sustainable trajectory. When prompted by Masaki to find a parable in my personal life, it suddenly made sense, the tumultuous years I spent as a divorcee running riot in KL, and eventually meeting my wife (my ‘stabilizer’ or my rock, as it were), was the parallel I needed to relook into (gruesome details here).
Hence, the real battle begins, and of all things to try to overcome, it is boredom — the one demon that has plagued me my whole life. How do you battle something so intrinsic to your being that it manifests so readily at every given, habitual cue? What’s more challenging, is that I have created a legion of mission-oriented apprentices akin to my own ways and methodologies. No one said this was going to be easy, but I must lay down arms and defeat this monstrosity that’s constantly seeking novelty — me.