Self Repurposing: Recycle, Redirect, Rebrand and Reinvent Yourself

I have been thinking for several weeks now about the many states of transition that people go through in their lifetime. The more I thought about this the more it caused me to reflect on my own life transitions. I believe I have managed to recycle, redirect, rebrand and reinvent myself several times over. The word 'retirement' does not exist in my vocabulary, but I have the utmost respect for anyone who has made the choice to truly retire.

Repurposing has become a popular word these days, and I personally believe in this practice. According to Wikipedia, repurposing is the use of a tool being re-channeled into being another tool, usually for a purpose unintended by the original tool-maker. Typically, repurposing is done using items considered to be junk, garbage or obsolete. I believe, at this point in my life, I am repurposing myself to avoid becoming stagnant or obsolete; to become a person who embodies all the transitions, knowledge and experiences I have accumulated in my lifetime. My new business — Jennifer Grant International - feels like I am repurposing myself for something I have always been destined to do.

My first big transition was when I moved away from home at 12 years old to attend boarding school since there was no high school in the small town where I grew up. I was excited and terrified all at the same time. Moving away from my family to live with strangers had my stomach doing flip-flops for several weeks before I walked through the front doors of St. Joseph’s College, situated on beautiful Lake Nipissing in North Bay Ontario. I went to the lake often when I felt homesick, and just being close to the water seemed to help me. My need to be close to the water has continued my entire life.

My next transitions from high school to college and then to my first real job were still very exciting, but not quite as terrifying. I slowly gained more confidence as I navigated my way forward into my early 20s. I had a good support network of family and friends, and I was feeling a whole lot more grown up and ready to take on the world. I left college with a Hotel and Resort Management diploma and was hired as the Assistant Food and Beverage Controller at Chateau Lake Louise Alberta. I was ecstatic with having such an important-sounding position, but those flip-flops were suddenly back again.

I seriously had no clue how to be an Assistant Food and Beverage Controller at a major Canadian hotel. I wondered how long it would take until my boss discovered I had no experience or knowledge of what I was doing. I figured the best thing I could do to conceal my naivete and ignorance was to at least look the part, so I immediately rushed out to purchase my very first business suit and a pair of black pumps. Now that my new hotelier image was born, I just needed to play the role. I am happy to say I didn't get fired and, over time, I became very competent at my job. What amused me, in hindsight, was how often I was told how confident-looking and what a professional I was. (If they only knew…)

Several more hotel jobs later, I decided that travel agency work might be more interesting than the hotel business, so I started my second career as a travel consultant at Lights Travel in Vernon, British Columbia. Another job I had no clue about, but I had become so adept at creating my next new image that I easily assumed the look and demeanor of a topnotch travel consultant. I enjoyed the work, I was good at it and I loved living in Vernon, not realizing at the time that I would return to the Okanagan 25 years later.

My pattern of looking ahead to the next opportunity to change things up continued, and when I heard that the 'airlines' were hiring in Vancouver in 1979, I could already see myself in an airline uniform. I became a customer service agent for Canadian Pacific Airlines in 1979 and thought I had found my true calling. I was proud as a peacock and probably looked like one most days with my smart navy uniform, my 20th pair of pumps (this time navy) and the signature Canadian Pacific airline scarf adorning my neck.

After sharing with my instructor that my ambition was to become a top airline executive, he recommended I start at a small station at any number of the airports open across Canada. I could hardly wait to get started and I selected Fort Nelson, BC, for my first posting. I didn’t even know where Fort Nelson was! Needless to say, I was a little shell-shocked when I stepped off the plane in Fort Nelson in the middle of a blizzard in September.

Many years and airline mergers later, plus 3 years operating my own travel agency business, I was awarded the position of Area Manager for Interior BC with Jazz Aviation, based in Kelowna, in 1995. I remained in this position for the next 20 years until I said farewell to Jazz in August 2015. I had been thinking about starting my own business for some time and felt that 27 years as an airline manager was long enough. I did a great deal of personal and professional development and transitioning during my long service airline career, but one thing I never changed was to make sure that my professional image was perfect, 24-7. My drive, discipline and desire to help others succeed was relentless, as was my own personal determination to succeed.

For my entire adult life, I have always been conscious of not only my image but also the image that others portray at work and in the community. Portraying a positive and polished image took me extra time, preparation and constant refining. I must admit that it occasionally felt like a huge effort to be stage-ready every single day, but I rarely took a short cut or a chance that I didn’t have my best self on display.

After all these years, I think my continual effort to be the best version of myself has become my trademark and that it very much contributes to my success. I believe that my image is still what attracts others to strike up a conversation or friendship with me and it is why my clients at Jennifer Grant International hire and trust me to help them enhance their image and advance their success . I have no flip-flops this time around, I am extremely confident in what I do.

In closing, I believe that transitions are unique times when we can toss off the old and step into the new. Circumstances may be different, but the skills and attitudes needed to successfully move ahead are always the same - namely being positive, passionate, patient and proactive. I love the journey I am on to repurpose myself and I know that, for me, yet another new journey awaits. I hope a new journey awaits you as well.

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