The Meerkat Approach

I’m sure you know this is a picture of a meerkat,  – it’s that cheeky looking creature that lives in the South African deserts.

The meerkat, an alert animal always on the lookout

The meerkat, an alert animal always on the lookout

It stands up on its hind legs and keeps a very careful eye on its surroundings.

A group of meerkats is known as a clan or a mob. They are very social animals, when they are out in the open there is always a sentry or two who will act as lookouts for the rest of the mob. If a predator is spotted there will be a warning bark and the entire clan will return to its burrow where it is safe from attack.

The really important point is that a meerkat sentry is always on the lookout. I use the meerkat analogy but in a totally different way. You will see how.

I wanted to do something else

I was working as a freelance computer consultant travelling to all sorts of places in Europe and even further afield. I enjoyed the travel and the work but gradually I was finding it harder and harder to cope because of the multiple sclerosis. In early January of this year I realised that I had to stop the computer consultancy work. By the beginning of February this web site had been launched.

The transition did not happen overnight. At the start of 2011 I was starting to get a bit desperate. I could see the moment was fast approaching when I would be forced to stop my computer consultancy work but I could not find anything different that would suit me. I soon realised that very few people wanted to employ a man over 55 years of age, crippled by multiple sclerosis and possessing very few marketable skills, in other words I was a liability. I wanted to do something else  that would allow me to use my brain, experience and passion but I had no idea what it could be.

 I mentioned this vague idea

I went to a career coach and the idea of working for a charity was suggested. It looked like a winner, it ticked all the boxes, but I quickly realised it wouldn’t work. The two principle reasons were, I would have to work in London and I’m not a natural salesman so it was back to the drawing board.

One afternoon in July last year I was chatting to my career coach and I mentioned this vague idea I had of setting up a website for disabled people and how difficult life can be when you are in restaurant and want to go to the loo but you discover there are some steps that need to be negotiated.

I bought the domain names, as they say the rest is history. Well not quite, there still needed to be a lot of hard work, a bit of luck, modifications to the original idea, determination, networking and a lot of chit-chat.

Things don’t just happen. Gradually I told more and more people about this idea of mine, they came back to me with suggestions, proposals and arguments.

The meerkat is not lucky

This is where the meerkat analogy comes in. They only survive by using their ears and eyes and warning the group when a predator approaches. The same applies to me and the website plus I’m sure it applies to all sorts of things we do. It is vital to examine all the possibilities, something that is right will almost always turn up, you must be ready to react to it.

On more than one occasion people have said that I am very lucky. The meerkat is not lucky, it recognises the outline of a predator in the sky. It reminds me of a quote by the American golfer Arnold Palmer “It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get”

For me the only element of luck was the decision to sign up with the career coach. From then on it was a series of opportunities that were presented to me and taking decisions. I admit that I did not know exactly where each decision would take me but I did know the general direction

 

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