Thursday, August 28, 2003

Stage Fright 

In 84 minutes time, I go on stage.

I'll be parading my knowledge, my skills, my self, my worth, in that curious piece of theatre known as the Job Interview.

I've been around a while, so its not as if I haven't done this before, but I don't recall ever feeling quite as nervous or as wound up. This time matters to me. A lot. So much so that last night the thought even crossed my mind that I could withdraw and thereby avoid having to face rejection. Find the logic in that...

I thought maybe if I adopt the discipline of putting fingers to keyboard to try and express these thoughts in some semi-coherent form, I might get my head in some kind of shape for the interview.

79 minutes.

I titled this stage fright because right now my thinking - even my being - seems to have frozen in just the same way as an actor who waits in the wings and faces that "I can't go on stage" feeling. I've been feeling really positive about this job for the last week or so, doing all my preparation, networking, imagining how I'd do the job, the issues I'd face, the approach I might take, the strengths I'd bring... All that preparation seems like a memory now; like trying to recall the details of a film I saw 6 months ago. The storyline may be there but the immediacy has gone.

I never told you about the job. Virtually all my working life I've been in broad engineering or management roles, with a brief foray into property. I've learned a lot about people and organisations over that time and for the past 8 years or so I've been trying to migrate into something more associated with people and organisational development. This is the closest I've yet got. Leading a team to design and deliver a new support service within the organisation for which I work aimed at improving effectiveness at personal, team and organisational levels.

Its challenging, frightening, exciting, daunting, stimulating, ennervating. It may bring risk, freedom, exposure, the glow of success, the gloom of failure.

[59 minutes. This is starting to be useful. To exorcise a demon, you have first to recognise and then face it. A functioning brain is also a prerequisite to producing coherent text].

So why the nerves?

Two things. Firstly, its about being judged. That's the easy bit - nothing unusual there.

Secondly the job would put me in control. Although I've been there before, for the past couple of years I've marked time in a fairly quiet role with my head well below the parapet. I've become lazy and in danger of getting stuck in a rut.

Hmmm... yes... I think we're getting somewhere now.

...And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse...

From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T S Eliot

Do I dare disturb the universe?

42 minutes...

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