Saturday, July 08, 2006

What if...

At the tender age of 20, I was faced with my first redundancy. What horror - I thought that was a fate reserved for old men and yet, here I was just starting out on my career in retail management, called into the office on my way home one Friday evening and handed the fateful letter. It wasn't even signed, just full of "blah, blah, centralisation", "blah, blah, regret to inform you", "blah, blah, thanks for everything, now sod off and find something else to do". Oh, and did I mention that it was just before Christmas? Although understandably peeved at the time, it was to prove the turning point in my career and set me off on the road which eventually led to where I am today (not far, some would say).

My first office job was at a local printing firm where I have to admit, my chances were probably helped by the fact that the M.D. was my Godfather. Initially I took the job of receptionist as a "filler" until something better came along but my Office Manager there was probably a greater inspiration to me at the time than I've ever made known to him. Not too occupied (or interested) in reception duties, I soon busied myself learning how to look after the accounts, prepare quotes & costings, develop my Sales and Customer Service skills; all the time generally learning the other tools (chores) of the admin trade.

Before long, I still had time on my hands (as did my Manager) and as a result, we would fill this time playing "what if?". I'm not talking about some childish imaginary game; more of "I wonder how we could make the month end routines less of a chore? What if...?" A train of thought that resulted in us writing a program to link the various routines together and save hours of work. Which left more time to think "What if...?"

I've carried on that theme ever since, both in and outside of work. Not that there's ever been the same amount of spare time since, but whenever the time has been available, I would adopt the same principle to find my way around Microsoft Office or understanding html code or even servicing and repairs around the house. I'm often asked "Where did you learn this stuff?" and the answer is simple, I taught myself through the trial and error process of the "What if..." game.

Give it a go - what have you got to lose*? Just remember to backup the existing copy or makes notes & drawings of whatever you're working on first! Something else I learned (the hard way) by playing the game...

* Disclaimer: this suggestion implies use of a modicum of common sense, e.g. "What if I washed my hair with battery acid instead of shampoo?" is a silly notion and this blogger accepts no responsibility for such actions.**

** I know I shouldn't have to say this but you never know...

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