‘Tis the Season to make life changes: Finding courage and creativity.

Published on
11 January 2023
Michael Quast
Michael Quast
Senior Consultant

Read this book every night and it will change your life!

It might sound like clickbait, but the above is just a note from my present self to my past self. It’s not even advice. It’s just a fact. So, read the book, don’t read the book – it’s up to you. But this is what happened.

Back in late 2018 I was at a crossroads. I had reached the end of the line in the job I had. I knew it. The only problem was, I didn’t have a good plan for what to do next. So, I did what most people do and spent maybe too much time on, looking for something I was qualified enough to land. And none of my realistic options were particularly inspiring.

There was this one company that looked kind of intriguing. It was a digital and business consultancy with three core values: Selfless, Courageous and Creative. In time it would add Empathy to the list.

Curious. But it didn’t look like it was for me. I had no qualifications or experience related to consulting. I didn’t even really understand what they did. So, I shelved it and kept looking elsewhere.

Not that book again

That might have been the end of the story. If not for my son’s fixation with a particular book.

That book was ‘The Lion Inside’ by Rachel Bright, illustrated by Jim Field. Yes, that’s right. The book that changed my life was a children’s book. That my son requested. Every. Night. For three months.

Any book repeated that much can start to get, well, a little tiring. Though I did like the message.

In short, the book is about a mouse who gets overlooked for everything. Or sat on. Or stepped on. Until he decides to become like the lion who lives on the pile of rocks above his house by learning to produce a bone-shattering ROAR. The only thing is, the lion who can teach him this skill is a little carnivorous.

Clearly, the main theme of the book is Courage. That much is clear from the lines that slowly became mantras for me, like:

“It felt like the scariest thing he could do… But if you want things to change, you first have to change YOU.”

But there’s a subtext of Creativity here, too. Without spoiling the ending, the mouse does get to the top of the rock, but things don’t go exactly as planned. And to be creative, you need to be open to things not going quite how you planned. And figure out how to make it work anyway.

Things fall apart

Back to the job hunt. Bolstered by my new-found life coach – the mouse from the book – I crafted the best cover letter I could muster and logged on to submit my job application. And hit a dead end. I had missed the deadline.

It felt like I’d gathered so much courage just to write that cover letter that this couldn’t be the end of the story. So, I got a little bit creative. I found that although the jobs for Adelaide had closed, the Sydney jobs were still open. I submitted my application through the Sydney job form. And then promptly wrote a plea through the web enquiry form for the People and Culture manager to please consider my application for Adelaide, even though I had no right to be considered having missed the deadline.

If that wasn’t enough, I decided to go even bolder (cheered on by my mouse) and message the CEO of the company directly. If I read back the message I sent today, I would probably either laugh or cringe. But back then I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

“It was time to be strong, take a chance… after all, Forever was such a long time to feel small.”

At this point I figured I’d done all I could. If it ended there, so be it. At least I’d put myself out there.

But it didn’t end there. I got a call from the People and Culture Manager. I got an interview. And a second. And a third. I made plenty of mistakes along the way and it was right out of my comfort zone, but at last I landed a job with the Selfless, Courageous, Creative and Empathetic people at Escient, the best place I’ve ever worked.

Be the Mouse

So, what does this mean for you? Well, just that you should have a go. Put yourself out there. Find 20 seconds of Courage when you need it. And if things don’t go exactly as you planned, grab 20 seconds of Creativity and figure out a way forward.

And if you’re curious about working at Escient, get in touch with our great People & Culture Team today, like Nicole Galashchuk, who’s watching LinkedIn right now waiting for you to message her.

As for Selflessness and Empathy? That’s another story. I mean, literally it’s another children’s book.

Which I’ll write about next time.

About the author

Michael Quast is a Senior Consultant at Escient who, after studying law and a decade in Federal public service, launched a new career in consulting with Escient in 2019.  He believes:

Creativity and design are more than just making things look nice. Good design requires empathy. Good design leads to a return on investment. Good design comes with innovation.

Innovation can be intentionally prodded. Innovation doesn’t always go exactly where you think it will. Innovation leaves ego at the door. Innovation means I am always learning.

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