Today I am Managing Director of my own consulting firm, Aha! Consulting, that provides consulting services in all areas of change management with clients from all over Australia across multiple sectors. I am part facilitator, change agent, engagement professional and social researcher with a wealth of experience with diverse clients and sectors.
I’ve work with grass roots community organisations, with all tiers of government, commercial firms, multi- nationals and even the United Nations. Without much marketing, I am sought out as someone who can bring simplicity to complex situations and bring diverse people together for a constructive outcome. People also seek me out as a trainer and I have also been given guest lecturing spots at Universities. However, if you examined my school record, none of this seemed likely.
From primary school it was clear to many that the way I learnt did not match they way the education system taught.
Back in those days concepts like dyslexia, dysgraphia and the like were quite foreign, and the education system struggled to consider the possibility that part of the issue was how students where taught. Thus, if there wasn’t a problem with the education system, I must have been the problem. At such a young age how could I deny that there were certainly enough report cards and exam results to prove this theory. These repeated messages of failure and experiences of struggle was something I grew to believe was synonymous with who I was.But in reality I wasn’t the problem, I was smart, I had a wealth of other capabilities and natural leadership. Yet the system was designed to fit a population into specific boxes and if you don’t fit that box, first you get blamed and then you get left out. The epitome of my high school experience can be summed up by one of my final year 12 exams. Sitting in the gymnasium, I had finished what I could, but was not allowed to leave until a certain time, so all I could do it literally sit and count bricks on the gymnasium wall. Needless to say I failed all my year 12 subjects except for Chemistry (thank to some extra tutoring). The light in all of this was that by year 12, I had begun to do some remedial work, with occupational therapists and an optometrist and there was a growing awareness that there is a difference between intelligence and learning styles.
This was great work but unfortunately it was all too little too late.
However, in spite of my so called ‘failure’, I continued with my remedial work, I worked, I travelled and discovered. I had a different learning style than that championed by the education system. It was not bad or broken just different to the boxes the system worked within.
After a couple of years, I returned to re-sit my leaving as a mature age student and turn the F into A’s and was accepted into University but I turned it down, largely because I was still not free from the beliefs (and fears) I had formed about ‘book learning’ throughout my school years.
In fact, skip forward through my life and you will see those high school experiences still pop back as seeds of doubt and concerns that some will one day find out what you are really like. However, I am faced with a daily choice, believe these experiences or see the true value in what I bring to others.
The fact is my ‘intelligence’ cannot be judged by a degree, diploma or dyslexia, but by my ability to understand a situation and bring simplicity to it. That ability comes down to the depth that I connect with others. In some circles this ability can be diminished by the label ‘emotional intelligence’, but in reality it is so much more than that.
The fact is that the deepest understanding of the world does not come from books but from what and how we learn from each other. Learning and working in this way, surpasses disciplines, cultures and is equally accessible to all.
To my surprise, it’s by not trying to hide things like poor spelling that made me more accessible to many. By not choosing to be owned by these labels people seek ME out and not my qualifications.Managers, CEO’s, ministers frequently invite me to work for them. I have been involved in national projects and dealt with complex human relationships that no textbook would prepare you for.
Education and training are important but there is a wisdom that lives beyond books and it not that far out of our reach because it lives within us all.