It’s not easy, this Marketing Academy malarkey. I know we were warned of that fact by the previous scholars and the application process did hint that we were going to be tested but I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting this. I’m not referring to the additional workload and the pressure it has put on our already busy lives, I mean the amount of soul-searching the Academy forces you to do.
I’ve had six mentoring sessions thus far – that’s nine hours I’ve spent one on one with some of the industry’s biggest wigs; 12 eyes starring into my mine with nowhere to hide as we mainly discuss…me. My mentors and coach have asked probing, open-ended questions, gently peeling layers away, encouraging me to examine my answers and find meaning in behaviour; to pick out patterns in my thinking, repeatedly, at an unprecedented level of detail.
My life outside the Marketing Academy has also been quite tumultuous over the summer, both at work and at home; this has also been a catalyst for further introspection. Combined, it has resulted in the most intense period of self-reflection in my life. (Even more than when I was a teenager and would barricade myself away to write reams of angry poetry.)
Initially it’s felt deeply uncomfortable. I normally prefer to deflect conversation away from the real nitty gritty of me, what’s really going on underneath. I have squirmed under the spot light. But then as my coach explained, I’m not going to be doing this forever; a bit of naval gazing to help me figure out what I want to do with my life and my career is sensible preparation rather than self indulgence.
And, dare I say it, I’m even starting to enjoy it. The mentors and coaches are all obviously talented, intelligent people who have given up their time to help you. I don’t know how someone could come out of a session and not feel a bit exhilarated and inspired.
And what have I found out? Umm… Mainly that I don’t have the answer yet. And (crucially) that that’s ok. What I’m doing the moment is pretty good; I should use my time to try some things out, to explore ideas. I am learning more about what motivates and is important to me – but I still don’t know exactly where I’m going and precisely want I want to do next. But the conversations are helping me to narrow my focus. My mentors, particularly those with the more varied (and to my mind, interesting) careers have all said in one way or another that a clear sense of their personal values have guided them through their career rather than a clear direction of rank or title they wanted to achieve.
More revelations will follow Bootcamp 2, no doubt…