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  • Writer's pictureKeith Jeffrey

The 7 States of a Working Class Professional Career State 1 - Your Origin Story




I worked as a cultural professional for over a LONG time and I saw many people with less obvious capabilities and certainly less track record than me have more successful careers.


For years I never understood why and then the penny dropped.


I’m working class, from the north east and have an accent. I worked hard and was lucky. Yet I know I could have done more and gone further. Part of that failure is down to me and my own limitations but undoubtedly my working class roots played a fundamental role in curtailing my career.


Seems to me that class prejudice still exists.


Looking back I can see 7 states in my career which informed my decision making. Over the next few weeks I plan to explore these states to see why they are important and what challenges and opportunities they present.


The idea is to give you a space for reflection for you on your professional journey and some ideas about what you might need to overcome to fulfil your potential.


These articles could be important for you. All I know is that I had worked with someone like me 20-30 years ago my career could have been so much better and I would have made far fewer mistakes.


State 1 – Your Origin Story

My guess is that you had some sort of eye opening cultural or creative experience when young which drew you into this world.

This likely happened by accident, you were not guided into it as you may have been with better educated or more affluent parents. You discovered this thing for yourself and it was transformatory.


That is your origin story. It's from there that you draw your inner energy and inspiration which keeps you going even through the toughest times.


For me it was listening to “Piledriver” by Status Quo in my bedroom some time in spring of 1978. Something with that record clicked and gave me a new found confidence and passion (to the detriment of my “O” Levels).


I began to hang around with local musicians and within a few years we were opening a music venue. Seems ludicrous people as young as that team was should be given such an opportunity but we were.


I was welcomed into a magical, exciting world where amazing things kept happening and I met fascinating people.

That one album changed my life and through my conversations with cultural professionals, this is not an uncommon experience. See my podcast series – The Cultural Professionals Teabreak.


This moment is important and is one to be treasured and thought about.

It is this moment which transforms your life and permanently informs your career. The work you do now is often because you want to create the same opportunities for others that were given to you. This is what gets you up in the morning and keeps you going through very difficult times and poor rewards.


This memory tells you that the work you do is important and worthwhile despite no obvious financial rewards. You live for the inner satisfaction you get from seeing the impact you create with the people you work with.


This is an important asset to nurture. I always advise my clients to remember, explore and develop their origin story.


It is from there that you draw your inner energy and inspiration which keeps you going even through the toughest times.


However, in the midst of your career you might lose sight of this drive and purpose. Indeed the formative experience which once drove you on may no longer work for you now.


This can lead you to feeling uncertain, without that drive passion and motivation you need to keep going.


Given declining terms and conditions you might need to think about switching careers, if so what should that career look like and how can your drive and purpose be expressed in a different context?


How can your origin story continue to give you the energy and passion you need in a completely different context?


This is the reason I created my “Why of You” programme, together we can revisit that origin story, make it more real and relevant to who you are now and where you want to go in in your professional life.


Your ideal job may not be where you think it is but as long as you know what its features look like then you can reduce the risks of making a big career mistake.


Pausing to reflect on WHY you do this work is essential if you want to progress your career with confidence and success.


Message me if you’d like to talk further.

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