I've been really torn as to whether to post this blog. It's a bit of a break from the norm for me, as it's of a more personal nature, and I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to discuss in a public forum. However, it is a topic I really want to broach, as I haven’t been, and may not be over the next couple of months, quite so active on here, and I feel you guys deserve an explanation as to why. I've tried my best to remain professional, so here goes...
As I've said numerous times already, I've been in the "Optics" biz for a while now (14 years to be precise!) and for the last 10 years I have been fortunate enough to work for some of the best independent practices and with some of the most incredible people: Optometrists, Contact Lens Opticians, Dispensing Opticians and Optical Assistants. I have made friends for life and my network of professional contacts continues to grow - Optics is a very small world, everybody knows everybody!
I had been in my most recent job for four years and I absolutely loved it. However, sometimes things don't work out the way you thought they were going to and it's time to move on. No matter what you do for a living, I'm sure you all know that the danger of staying in one place for too long is that it becomes comfortable, safe. It stops challenging you. I started SarahKnowsEyes because I wanted more, I knew I was capable of more and had more to give. Anybody that knows me, knows that I've never been one to sit back and put my feet up. I have vision. I have drive. I have determination and I'm not afraid to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in, I've never been afraid of hard work. These are not bad qualities.
So, you guessed it! I'm on the verge of starting a new job. Not only that, but I'm leaving the soft and fluffy world of the “Independent Opticians” and I'm going to work for one of the big boys! Now, I know that this has a certain stigma attached to it (hence the title of this blog), but you see, that there is my dilemma. I have always tried to remain neutral on the whole "Independent versus multiple/franchise" debate. I have always insisted that either are only ever as good as the person(s) in charge, regardless of whether they're Independent or franchised. For instance, some Specsavers / Vision Expresses have a great reputation, whereas I know of some Independents whose morals make saints of the Ferengi! It all depends on the individual.
Over the past 14 years I've worked with (in my opinion) some of the very best in the business. Like the little sponge that I am, I have tried to absorb as much as possible. I have had some hard, hard knocks, and at times my confidence has been admittedly, understandably, shaken. It's taken me a while, and although I'm still learning every single day, now, as a Dispensing Optician, I am confident in my abilities. I paid the money, blood, sweat and tears, to get myself to this point, I can use the initials FBDO after my name with pride (plus the BSc (hons) in Psychology - did I forget the mention that?! BRAAAG!).
More than that though, my morals are mine, independent of my place of employment, and my work ethic goes with me wherever I go. As long as I stay true to myself, which I know can be more easily said than done, I should have nothing to worry about. I will strive to bring a professional service with a personal touch wherever I go.
Admittedly I'll be working under much tighter constraints than I am used to, and no doubt at least some portion of my day will be spent analysing and stressing over "targets" and "sales forecasts". However, I will be in a position of management, responsible for the training of my colleagues, some, completely new to the world of Optics. Their experience; whether they enjoy it or not (admittedly Optics isn't for everybody); how they work; will be as a direct result of my coaching. I am in a position to do a great deal of good. To bring my "Independent" values to a big company setting. There may be bumps along the way, compromises to be made, but hopefully not too many sacrifices?!
Sometimes you need to spread your wings and fly, be allowed to grow. It doesn't matter if you fall, what matters is that you pick yourself up, brush yourself off and carry on. Sipping my very first cup of tea on that first day, I'll be thankful for that push. To believe my own worth, and to not be afraid to stand up for that, safe in the knowledge that I can do anything I put my mind to.
Or, you may find me a grey-haired wizened old wreck rocking gently in the corner in six months time? Either way, at this point, training over, it's either sink or swim. Wish me luck!