Orbell Communications

Communicating Your Message

Supermarket cleaner to life coaching

Posted by jorbell on March 9, 2010

A few years ago the family and I went through some serious financial problems which ultimately led to me seeking out a second income to help make ends meet. Due to the constraints of my day job I was limited to what roles I could take on which perhaps surprisingly, not least to me,  saw me take on a position as an early morning cleaner in a local supermarket. At the time I saw this second job as a means to an end but I in fact gained far more from the experience than money.

For five days out of seven I had to be up at 4.15am for a two hour shift which started at 5.00am and an hour later on Sundays. I got Fridays as my day off when I could have a lie-in until 7.00am. I had a 25 minute journey to make by bike each day which didn’t always go to plan as I had one bike stolen and then had to walk meaning I had to get up even earlier till I found a replacement.

As for the job itself it was interesting to be wandering in a supermarket before dawn though that feeling soon passed. Amongst my tasks was to sweep the aisles with a pair giant scissor-like brushes, mop the cafeteria kitchen floor of chip fat and clean the loos too. On the plus side I did have the gorgeous aroma of fresh strawberries and peaches in summer but you had to weigh that up with the split bag of cat litter or one of those toxic air fresheners with the essence of Chernobyl stream. While basically having the same tasks to complete each day there was always something different going on. For instance, one Sunday I had to literally clean ice cream off the windows!

Despite all the issues of going without sleep for money I don’t regret the direction my life was taking back then. After all, the only constant in life is change and the cleaning job is now very much part of my past as I quit after five months. However, it’s worth looking back now so that you can understand how the change occurred.

The job was very much a solitary and unchallenging activity but the major benefit it gave me was that of essentially two solid hours of quality thinking time. Can you honestly say that you devote that sort of time in one hit into working out your situation, making plans for the future, developing schemes and new ideas etc? It is a strange experience and fantastic to have that freedom. I was up before dawn in a place that is usually heaving with chattering people and yet pretty much alone in an eerie quietness. Apart from a floor polisher that sounded like some distant aircraft taxiing to an airport terminal there’s barely a sound. It was in this atmosphere that I was able to let my mind wander off all sorts of different directions. I used my surroundings to stimulate ideas and I continually asked myself questions to get to the roots of my situation and where my future was taking me.

I vowed to quit by the end of the year and reclaim my life whatever the consequences. By then I was still juggling a busy home life and career as a graphic design and marketing professional but by then I had changed in so many ways and haven’t looked back since. I do not regret the whole experience at all because it gave me the opportunity to do something different with my life. I was able to meet new people from different backgrounds and allowed me to evaluate my place in the community as a whole.

I would recommend the experience of doing something completely different in addition to your usual routine to give yourselves a wider perspective of the world. It doesn’t have to be cleaning but a task that takes you away from familiar surroundings that refreshes your mind and makes you think about where you are headed in life. If you are not happy with the results you are getting then try something different.

One of the positives from my time in this job was that I was inspired to enrole on a course in life coaching and I have since gained a Certificate Personal Performance Coaching from the Coaching Academy. Despite the contradictions with my then current life circumstances I felt I had something to offer and have since coached people online from the UK to California to the Netherlands and India.

Rotten Fruit: An Analogy for Life

One of the other jobs I had was to clean around the fresh produce section which meant retrieving all the items that had fallen down the back of the shelves, some of which appeared to have been there for quite some time. I later attached a deeper significance to this task but you’ll have to bear with me as I explain…

First of all I would like you to think of the shelving units themselves as your mind and the produce – the fruits and vegetables – as your thoughts. The basics of potatoes and apples are your normal everyday thoughts, and the exotic items such as passion fruit are more to do with your dreams and special memories.

So what about those items that slip down the back and remain hidden? They get bruised and go rotten if you don’t deal with them. You could kick them out of sight but they’re still there, festering. Those are the negative self talk and issues you’ve been avoiding. I felt it was another way of seeing that we shouldn’t avoid deep rooted problems and try and free the mind. It’s like any other muscle – it needs exercise.

So there you have it. Even in troubled times we can find meaning and clarity in strange places. We just need to look for it and be prepared to spot the opportunities when the arise. There really is a positive in every situation.

Story featured on Alpha Inventions


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