Finding myself in………The Wilderness
I never thought having a career-changing event would mean going to the wilderness, but it does. Not actually THE wilderness, but Wilderness in the Western Cape of South Africa. I went to the Academy of Body Stress Release to train for five months to become a qualified Practitioner and have opened my practice rooms in Kensington, Johannesburg. A great idea but it took me 37 years to get here.
The Body Stress Release Academy, Rondevlei, South Africa
I have many friends who started on their own, either as a consultant or forming their own companies, and thought “That sounds great, wonderful, challenging, scary, …. that’s not for me!” I have been a salaried worker for three large corporates ever since leaving the British Army in 2006. Becoming a BSR Practitioner was my next career-pivot on my working journey through life.
Army Life prepared me for the unplanned and unexpected
I am a Baby Boomer, so thirty years in the Army should have moulded me into sticking to one specialisation, one sector, one BIG idea for my work. Well no actually, quite the opposite. The one thing I did learn is that nothing ever stays the same on this journey we call life. Military service prepared me very well to cope with life “on the outside”, for any challenge. On leaving the Army I became a consultant working back into areas of the military I was familiar with, working with loyal ex-army colleagues. It was an easy transition, and one I really appreciated, and life in London at that point was idyllic. But a previous military assignment in South Africa was to take me back to the Southern Hemisphere.
A surprise phone call in the UK took me the next day to an job interview at Copenhagen airport and within 6 weeks I was packing to emigrate lock stock and barrel to South Africa to work in the next Sector; aerospace manufacturing, for Denel Aerostructures, as a Key Account Manager. I spent a challenging and wonderful time there during an exciting aircraft development phase for the A400M aircraft. However after four hectic and creative years in hi-tech manufacturing, the need for a change took me in a different direction and into the security sector. The Chief Aircraft Designer asked me “What do you know about the Security Sector? You are successful here, don’t you think you should stay?”. For the very reason I made a success of one new sector, was the reason to do it all over again, this time at a Profit and Loss level, in the private sector.
Cut and thrust of the Security Business in Africa
The position in G4S as the General Manger for their Technology business unit took my career as a corporate executive to the next level, both in terms of P and L delivery and stress of course. This was also getting noticed at home; long hours and managing two retrenchment schemes to “streamline the business” was taking its toll. A year after the Olympic Games losses for G4S and some other economic challenges for the FTSE 100 listed Company, saving had to be made and I was retrenched at aged 55 year.
Retrenchment and Reflection
The dreaded retrenchment! I am a white, middle-aged foreigner, at executive level and five years away from official retirement age in a country striving for employment equity – post apartheid. Not a great position to find myself, and it could have been my second mid-life crisis. For the next 18 months I took an ambivalent approach to finding a job, licking my wounds and ignoring my mantra that “Finding a job is a full time job”. I improved my LinkedIn profile became a Premium Member and waited for the offers to flood in. I did get offers, don’t get me wrong, but the Middle East and a few other hot spots around the World was not what I had in mind. I had come to South Africa to live and work here, not somewhere else. Even in the global workplace, home is where the heart is.
I took time to finish off a book-writing project, did some creative courses in photography, writing, and became more spiritual in my life style. Financial security at home and a very understanding wife led me into a wonderful period of self-discovery. I got to know my eight year old boy so much better! Unfortunately hours at the computer writing and researching, gave me very bad backache and shoulder pains. One book is finished and I have another 6 in various stages of planning.
Years in the armed forces had provided my body, like so many others in the office and corporate environment with a good physical coping mechanism. Some exercises, sport, stretching and visits to the podiatrists, chiropractor, doctors, yoga and pilates classes had all managed to suppress the pains. In addition to my wife being financially supportive of the situation, she is also the guardian of my health. She needs me healthy, we run, hike and cycle every challenge in life together and it makes us stronger, at least up to the point I start to struggle.
A Life Changing Moment
“Get fixed” was the clear message, from ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed’ and the offer I could not refuse was a visit to a Body Stress Release Practitioner. So off we tripped together to Brent in Johannesburg to have our first BSR session. We sat down in his practice and I was immediately told to “Sit up straight and not to cross my legs!” as these were bad for my posture. I was back in school! After taking my physical and medical life history in a few minutes Brent got to work.
Body Stress Release works on the principle that any form of mechanical, mental or chemical stress may be stored in the body and thus released using various irritation tests and the body’s own biofeedback mechanism to determine where the stress manifests. The session usually takes 30 minutes and is completed fully clothed. Brent said, “now you need to go home, rest, get horizontal and don’t do any thing physical till I see you gain in three days”.
By the time I had driven home I felt like I had completed the 109km Cape Argus Cycle race, which usually takes us about 5 hours. I went into a deep sleep that afternoon. There was something to this Body Stress Release. Over the next few weeks, the deep and strong leg pains from my hips to my feet had gone and I returned to full running health in about 6 weeks. I also learned Brent’s life story, his route to being a practitioner, I did more research and looked into the practitioner course availability. After all I was at a crossroads, definitely not yet retired, but still not working and earning a living – my male pride needed to go to the body shop and get the dents knocked out.
The little “Doubting Thomas” from within was still whispering, “what do you know about health and wellness, and working for yourself is hard you know?”. Well I had done it all twice before, so why not again? Another few weeks later, and my business plan was ready, I had written my web pages, sourced a practice location and I started the BSR Practitioner course on May Day 2015.
I don’t think my body and stress story is unique, I think it fully typifies the World we live in with; poor diets, low levels of physical activity and stressful high paced lifestyles, which mean we all get stressed out and one day you maybe my client in Johannesburg! My practice in Derby Road, Kensington, Johannesburg is already open for business so why not make an appointment and start your own journey to a stress-free life..