Last month I obtained dual citizenship with the UK and Sweden. It also marked 8 years since I moved to Sweden. I left behind so many great friends, family and experiences, and made a new life here, now with a beautiful wife, adorable 3 year old son and now a second son, born just a few weeks ago.
When I first moved to Sweden, my wife and I lived in the city (town) of Trollhättan, home of SAAB Automotive, just north of Gothenburg. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that it had an unemployment rate of 16%, due to the bankruptcy of SAAB less than two months before my arrival. The region relied heavily on the Automotive industry, but despite this setback, with the creation of the electric car company NEVS, as well as nearby Volvo Cars and Volvo Trucks headquarters, recovery for the local industry was eventually made possible.
Due to family commitments I had to re-invent my career somewhat in order to find any work locally and bring in a stable income. Being in a country with a language foreign to me, it turned every simple daily task into cryptic mission. So setting up my own business was not a wise option. It was the end of my experimental, flying by the seat of my pants, self-employed days. It was a soul searching time. But I was fortunate enough to be selected for a government funded course in Catia V5, geared for the Automotive industry. However, these circumstances shifted me dramatically away from my previous norms. This adaption proved not just a challenge in terms skill set, cultural differences, language barrier, and having no friends around for support, but also a huge shift transitioning from being my own boss working largely independently and being somewhat of a ‘renaissance man’, with my multidisciplinary, creative and experimental work in the UK of eco-friendly Furniture Design, Live Events Interactive Visuals and Video Production, towards Mechanical Design Engineering of plastic parts for large hierarchical multinational corporations where they love to segregate the workforce into rigid skill sets, while being averse to any kind of out of the box thinking. Thereby, massively slowing down the creative process and killing most opportunities for innovation. This is something David Epstein confirmed to me in his book ‘Range‘.
Fast forward 8 years – and like so many others around the world right now – due to Covid-19, once again I’m facing a similar situation here in Gothenburg, namely imminent unemployment. Only this time it wasn’t my choice, and I have a family and first home to look after amid a global financial crisis that will make 2007/2008 look like a walk in the park. Once again I have to shed off the old and adjust, grow, create and embrace the new. Opportunities that may not fully align with all of my ideals, and opportunities that may not even exist at this moment in time. In the most important ways I feel well prepared for this time ahead. I’ve been here before and have only become a better person and innovator because of it.
In a way I am familiar with the feeling my current situation brings. I’m out on the trail and I find myself heading along a path that isn’t the one I expected to be on. But I have my bearings and know where I want to get to. So I keep moving forward and make my way towards my destination points. And in the process I discover a new trail along the way that I never new existed, and I’m enriched by the whole experience.
Despite all the uncertainty and chaos around us all at this time, I’m feeling more motivated and inspired then ever, and with a clear sense of direction, both in my professional and personal life.
In my next blog post I will explain how I plan to move forward and enhance my career in practical terms.