Reboot. This is the latest Hollywood trend of remaking 20+ year-old sitcoms and movies, oftentimes with the original actors. So what? Well, I’ve gone through something of a reboot of my own during the past year. It was a year ago this week that I bid my employer of 24 years farewell. I really had little idea of what exactly I’d end up doing but I did I have some idea. During my time in industry, I learned a lot about how the industry functions, politics, teamwork and so on. But it wasn’t until the last couple of years that I learned about the most important thing I had to know: me. My career was stifled because I didn’t know enough about me to know what I should do. Although I was employed for my expertise in my particular discipline, the company didn’t really know quite how to deploy me effectively. This became more apparent after the company’s R&D site was closed and I was moved to a manufacturing site. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I’d have to accept that I’d have to leave the company. During my career, I had often envisioned doing my own thing. For me, that’s designing and building novel laboratory instrumentation. That’s what I did for my PhD and I saw my work become commercialized by half-a-dozen companies. I wanted my reboot. Occasionally, I’d get an itch to do so but I simply didn’t have the confidence to follow through. I was fearful. Any positive thoughts of what could be were doused by a sea of negative thoughts.
Ten years ago, I found myself in a personal hell. I was in a very, very dark place but I began the slow but inexorable climb out. My doctor would tell me about spiritual matters such as presence, abundance, flow, give and receive, the connections between mind, body and spirit, and mindfulness. At first, I thought it was nonsense. At the time, my wife would watch Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday every week and I’d mutter dismissively under my breath as I walked out the room. Gradually, I started to understand what my doctor was trying to tell me, and I even started to watch Oprah on Sunday mornings, too. I learned to listen to myself and explore my fears to find out where they came from and how they were paralyzing me. It was a revelation and now I know a tremendous amount about who I am. I gained the confidence to choose the path that I had often considered. I knew that the time was right – I was ready. So I retired.
The itch was still there. I wanted to reboot my original PhD work. I knew I could build not only a better mousetrap, but the best mousetrap. I also knew it could be a rabbit hole. I told myself at the start, “Whatever you do, John, don’t rebuild your instrument.” Well, I did. All the spiritual guidance I had been given began to have a significant, positive impact. People talk of a guiding light, a higher self or a guiding spirit that leads you along your right path even though you may not be aware of it. This happened to me. I embarked on an intense few months of designing and building my better mousetrap, writing a patent, reaching out to manufacturers and – most extraordinarily – setting up demonstrations of the instrument to some of the largest global manufacturers of related instruments. All along, I felt very much as if I was being guided. I listened to my intuition more than I have ever done before. The Universe was telling me what to do and, unknown to me, had been for some years. I ended up at Pittcon 2018 in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. Well, more specifically, I ended up in a hotel suite where I set up my prototype and, over a few days, demonstrated it to invited companies who have expressed strong commercial interest. That’s the photo. That’s my reboot. But, before committing to leave my employer, I had to bounce my plan off somebody for a sanity check. I couldn’t think of anyone – at first. Then I remembered a man I knew 30 years ago who had created a new career for himself doing the same kind of work I was planning to do. I hadn’t had any contact with him since then. But I found him on LinkedIn and sent him a message asking for his opinion. He could have said, “No, you’d be in competition with me,” or, “Sure. Let’s set up a time to talk,” or just not reply. In the end, before we spoke, he put me in touch with senior leaders of various manufacturers. He has become my mentor and good friend.