Trust needed, not clarity

One of the things that I don't like about job-hunting is uncertainty, so I felt chastened by a conversation between John and Mother Teresa.

John has been on a three month pilgrimage to Calcutta to meet MT and to get clarity. He asks her to pray for this.

MT: “No! I will not do that. Clarity is the last thing that you are clinging to and you must let go of it.”

John replies that she always seems so clear about what she should do.

MT: “Oh, I have never had any clarity whatsoever. What I have is trust. So I will pray that you trust Jesus.”

This conversation, between “renowned ethicist” John Cavanagh and Mother Teresa was referred to in a talk by Peter Grieg of 24/7 Prayer delivered at an Alpha event at Holy Trinity Brompton Church. It was printed in Focus, an enclosure in the latest issue of the Church of England Newspaper.

“Whatever Next…?”

Last Friday I enjoyed a day in the company of half a dozen other people at a picturesque conference centre in Buckinghamshire. We were all people at decision points in our lives, and this was a “Whatever Next…?” Day.

With sensitive facilitation, and feedback from one another, we found new ways of looking at our situations and new ways of moving forward. The only thing we knew beforehand was that we should start by sharing our stories (therapeutic in itself), enjoy good food, and choose how the day would flow from there.

True. I recommend it.

Enjoy unemployment?

I realise that I'm fed up with describing myself as unemployed. When I tell people they want to be sad for me, which is not cheering. Furthermore, in saying that I am unemployed I am describing myself by what I am not instead of by what I am: I suspect that the habit is not healthy.

I don't always react well to change (such as losing a job). But it is my experience that when I get over the shock of things I discover a life to be lived – and enjoyed – and not just a problem to solve.

That's a challenge….

Working For a Charity

Today I started a Foundation Course on working for charities. Run by Working for a Charity (part of NCVO) in London it helps people who are interested in voluntary organisations to understand more about them and to apply for jobs successfully. The course runs for seven days from now until the end of June.

I have been working for charities (CMS and the Church of England) for some while, but feel that I lack an appreciation of some of the differences between charities and commercial businesses. I hope that attending the course will be enjoyable and “sharpen me up” as I look for work.

The first day has been enjoyable with good company and good teaching. Most of the participants are middle-aged: coping with redundancy or returning to work after looking after children.

I was amused to listen to some of the particular characteristics of charities, for example a passion for the work (good) and too many meetings (not always so good!).

Still in Research Phase

Is the job hunt working?

I seem to be finding people to network with and jobs to apply for, and I'm even being invited to interviews. However nobody has offered me employment yet! Maybe I shouldn't be impatient – I'm only 27 days into unemployment. (May be I should have a counter in this blog – but that's the problem: I want it to be counting DOWN not UP!)

I do feel that I am still in the Research Phase: learning from the experiences that I have as I meet people to discuss work. This is shaping my ideas of what work I want to do, and I continue to consider self-employed options too.

I feel that words of St John of the Cross are helpful, as I sail into uncharted waters. (Yes, this blog is supposed to have a nautical theme.)

The lost art of Marketing

Conversations that I have been having in connection with my search for work have reminded me of my interest, and skill, in strategic marketing.

Marketing is defined as matching the resources of the organisation with the needs (or “wants”) of the customer. This is what I had practised in my industrial career, and the question of how to match organisational resources and customer needs is foundational to business strategy.

What puzzles me is that in the charitable sector marketing seems to be used in a much-diminished way: not referring to business strategy but to particular communication activities such as “marketing campaigns” (which the industrialist would probably call advertising, or publicity, or mail-shots).

I think, sadly, that such misuse of the word marketing contributes – in some not-for-profit organisations – to a real lack of strategic thinking about how to match creatively the resources of the organisation, which include its supporters, with the needs of its beneficiaries.