For me, life has always been about challenge, passion, growth and making a difference. Working each day without experiencing these things would start to cause a slow death inside. I choose to try and live my life to the fullest, to push the limits of my potential. This means that I can’t rest too long in the comfort zone of life. I find that when the fear of staying is greater than the fear of changing, it is time to move on. This is what drove me � a ‘baby boomer’, single mom on the wrong side of 45 � to give up the comfort of a stable work environment to enter the challenging virtual world.
I undertook this challenge at the beginning of 2003 and moved from the work force as a director and co-owner of a business to the world of consulting. I was searching for opportunities where I could use my skills, have an impact, test my current knowledge and grow in new areas. The early part of my first year out of the office was driven by constant fluctuations between a fear of the unknown and the adrenalin of fresh prospects The South African Government and banking platform are not user-friendly to the small business owner. There is an enormous amount of red tape, forms to fill in and taxes to pay. One has to establish new ratings and credibility even if the same bank has dealt with you in your personal capacity for the past twenty years. At many points along this road I was tempted to give up. In the end, these setbacks only encouraged me to push beyond bureaucracy and make a go of it.
As a consultant, one of my greatest lessons has been that only when one is adding value does one earn a reward. I believe that this way of doing business will become a norm in the 21st century. The world is changing at a rapid pace and the days of earning a fixed salary in a solid position within a company may be gone sooner than we think. Most of us are going to have to change our paradigms to survive. There will be no place for being comfortable, for not rising to greater heights and for not doing ones best. The skill that I consider integral to surviving in this kind of workplace is accountability, maintaining complete ownership of whatever it is that you do. As an independent business woman there is no place to blame others, or rely on them to get the job done. If one does not learn this skill one cannot survive; I am grateful to have learnt this lesson.
I feel that technology has greatly enhanced the abilities of independent workers, even to the point that those working in a virtual world are able to add value at a much higher rate than most regular employees. Whereas in the workplace many hours are taken up in the traffic I am now able to work in this time. Also, I can take time off during the day and work at night. Laptops, cell phones and global travel allow me to work and have an office wherever I need to be; the local coffee shop has become my office of choice. The options open to me are broad and discipline is now a crucial daily skill. Commitment and drive are what get me up each day and keep me going.
In my world, networking and looking for new opportunities are critical. Everyday I look for openings, go out and meet new people, and attempt to understand the world of the 21st century. This I do through reading, belonging to clubs, communicating with those I know and stepping out to understand new environments. Technology and the Internet have assisted me greatly in this process. Having focus and knowing where one is heading have been critical; one has to know the direction one wishes to take otherwise it is easy to be sucked into the dreams of others, or manipulated by them. Knowing who I am and what values I want for life have kept me on track.
Working with the TomorrowToday team has been an interesting journey. As a ‘baby boomer’ I am used to structure and slow change. The new experience has been a roller coaster ride. Meetings are filled with ringing phones, the movements of people and side discussions. Sometimes, the discussion takes a direction that leaves me cold because I have no clue about what the others are discussing! After the first session I was completely thrown off course and was not sure how to deal with it. Now, two years later, I love the creative energy and freedom that flow in the meetings and I no longer enjoy the formal structure that I have known all my life. Lots of questions and disagreements take place until a sense of direction is in sight and this direction could change again before tomorrow, or maybe even in the next hour.
As the TomorrowToday team we live in all the major regions of South Africa and some even live abroad. Most discussions happen through email and by sms. Joining my first email group opened up my understanding of communication. I no longer believe that we all have to be in the same room to share with each other but there are limits to these methods of communication; for example, one has to be extremely careful to ensure that there are no misunderstandings. When I feel that I have not been understood I now deal with it directly and do not internalise what I am experiencing. What a joy this new technology has brought into my life! I have had many a good laugh at some of the great emails that appear in my inbox and what a change from what I once knew. During my last ten years in the corporate world I had a secretary that did all the letters and communication for me so one of the most important steps that I needed to take in this crazy new world was to learn how to use my computer and email correctly. I decided tto have a few private lessons � practised � and had more lessons and did more practise. This is what we need to do when we experience a fear of the unknown: face it head on, understand it, work through it and come out the other side as a better equipped individual.
Would I ever choose to go back to the world that was? No!! I have changed and grown, met wonderful people, am constantly challenged and have renewed my passion for life. I challenge each of you to evaluate your life, who you are and where you are heading. Step out, make a change, risk a little and discover a life beyond your wildest dreams.
Lynda is the Head of Resources for, and a critical part of their consulting team. Having spent many years as a National Marketing Director in Manufacturing and Retail environments, she has both the creativity and focus to assist people and companies strategise for the future.

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