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Why you should never let a bit of muck stand in the way of your dreams

The day my friend Karen fell down a man hole and ended up covered in shit.

Karen is a clever lady, but she never really believed in herself.  She would always use self-deprecating humour, and if anyone were to ever compliment her, she would respond with a negative.

She had missed out on so many opportunities because of this lack of faith in herself.

As her friend it was difficult to watch, I’d seen her push away wonderful partners, and avoid going for work promotions because of this negative impression of herself.

One day Karen came to me and told me about this job opportunity in her company.  On paper she knew she was capable, but she was being put off by the salary, as it was considerably higher than her current take home.

Let me just say that again, the high salary was putting her off… crazy right?

But I understand it because I’ve done the same.  If the salary is so much higher, then there must be more to the job than they’ve stated and I probably can’t do it.

We parked the salary to one side, talked it through and she submitted her application.  It was one of the most impressive applications I’ve ever seen, and I say that as someone with a background in HR.  I mean really, top notch.

Karen was asked to attend an interview.  She’d done some serious mind set work and on the day of the interview, we met for a coffee and she was fully prepared.  We went through some possible interview questions, and I fired some tricky ones at her, but she responded like a pro.

We left the café and walked across the square to her building all prepared for her big interview, and that’s when it happened.

Stepping off the curb, deep in conversation, I turned to ask Karen something and she was no longer there.  I mean, completely vanished.  What the…?! I couldn’t get my head round it?  She had been right there, and now she wasn’t.  There were no shops, it wasn’t busy, no corners to hide around, it was a wide open space, there was absolutely nowhere to hide, yet somehow she had.

As I stood there completely bemused, I heard a faint whimper. It sounded familiar and I followed the sound to an open man hole cover.  There were workmen along the square putting up cones, however they hadn’t coned this one before my friend had stepped out and been devoured by the stinky hole.

Karen was making her way up the ladder.  Surrounded by grovelling workmen she was lifted out of her predicament, and placed gently on the tailgate of the work truck.

I’ll not lie.  She was covered in shit, bloody knees, mascara and snot all over her face from the crying, and shaking like someone who had just fallen down a man hole.  I mean, that doesn’t happen in real life does it? She’s not a cartoon character!

I started laughing.  I seriously couldn’t stop, the kind of belly laugh that knocks you to the floor.  The kind of insane giggling that you do when you’re in a situation where you shouldn’t be laughing, like at a funeral, or a redundancy meeting, or when your friend has just fallen down a man hole and is crying and about to miss out on her dream job.

Through my laughter I could see that she was also laughing.  Then everyone was laughing.  People were stopping to see what all the commotion was about.  Soon everyone in the square was joining in.  I shouted out that Karen was on her way to an interview for her dream job.  We all laughed some more.

When we calmed down, I checked what time it was.  She had 30 minutes before she had to arrive.  It wasn’t looking good, but she had this huge gang of people who were willing to help her, people invested in her plight, and were wanting a happy ending for her.

John the Plumber went and got a coffee and a sugary treat to calm her nerves.

Kerry the Lawyer had a spare blouse and skirt in her office and ran off to get it.

Joanna the student had makeup, wipes, perfume in her bag and got to work.

The workmen made a makeshift dressing room out of barriers and tarpaulin.

I gave her the pep talk to end all pep talks.

We reassembled Karen.  We worked as a team to get her looking and feeling as good as she could and sent her on her way with 5 minutes to spare.


Crucially, there was one other person who became Team Karen in her hour of need in the square that day.

Richard was passing when Karen was unceremoniously dragged from the stinky hole.  He laughed with us, he empathised with her situation, he paid for the coffee and sugary treat, and more coffees for us when we were all working together to help her get back on track.

And he asked her easy questions when she arrived for her interview.

Because Richard was the Head of Department for the position she had applied for.

Roll on 4 years – Richard and Karen are now married and setting up their own consultancy business together.

What’s the moral of this story?

Is it that teamwork really does make the dream work?

Or is it that you’re worst day can quickly turn into your best day ever

Or maybe the fact that you should never let a bit of muck get in the way of your dreams…

Or perhaps it’s just that stepping in shit really is good luck.


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