“What do you mean I have to get rid of all of my personal possessions?”

I remember spurting this out as I sat in a meeting room surrounded by my stunned colleagues some years ago.

“Not every personal possession. You are allowed one photograph of your family.” Said our slightly nervous HR person as she scanned the shocked faces of the people in the room.

At the time I was working in the automotive industry in the UK and this was the introduction of a program called 5s (sort, set in order, shine, standardise, sustain)

In this world everything had to have a purpose and a place

No pictures on the white walls

No paper on your desk

No plants

No colour

No distractions

No day dreaming

Can you even imagine what that was like for me, a creative visual person stimulated by images?

They called it ‘Visual Control’ but all I felt was ‘Controlled’.

It made sense on the production line as it was easier to find things, and less hazardous for those going about their daily routine. But in the offices it was more about controlling the mind. An efficient use of work time = greater output.

But we are visual beings we mostly think in pictures and we need space in our days to contemplate.

I know I’m that person, and that’s how I operate best. I was that kid at school who was told to stop day dreaming, pay attention, sit up, don’t fidget, stop talking!

Who's in control of your life 2So when they took my visual daydreaming time away from me, my inspiration and ideas dried up. My sense of belonging to the work tribe disappeared. Instead of feeling I belonged, I felt boxed in and commoditised and I began to look outside. I began to plan my escape.

Do you ever feel your needs aren’t being met at work? That the one size fits all model does not fit you? Anyone who has ever tried one size fits all tights will know one size fits all is just not true.

Are there rules imposed on you and your colleagues which stop you from being yourself at work.

“Work is a serious business.”

“Don’t laugh too loud we can’t be seen to be having too much fun and wasting company time.”

Staying back late because it is ‘expected’.

Following the rules because they are the rules.

I was lucky – I found freedom in my creativity and I found my tribe too. My employers eventually lost me and now I work with an organisation where  I give my all and feel valued, and my clients get the best of me too.

I finally found my place, with people who understand the value of being themselves. They embrace diversity and encourage differences.

After years of hiding myself and feeling lost or unseen, I now help others find their creative self, see how brilliant they are and help them embrace the difference that makes them unique.

My clients are ready to make change, they no longer want to live a grey life – they are living life in full colour.

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