My name is Sharon Warmington and I work with individuals and organisations who want to make a difference in their lives or in the lives of others. I do this through business consultancy, executive coaching, training, and increasingly public speaking.
But it did not start there…
My journey started in 1969, when I was born to Jamaican parents, making me the youngest of five children. I grew up in an area of the city in Birmingham (UK) that was highly deprived, and it still is to a large extent. It’s called Nechells, and for the first ten years of my life, so throughout the seventies, that’s where my life was.
I had the most amazing childhood, we were happy. What I did not know was how poor we actually were, as a family. We never went on holiday as we could not afford such a luxury, as well as others, but what my parents did for us as a family was our greatest gift. They kept a roof over our head, clothes on our back, and food in our bellies.
It was not until much later in life, when I became a mother myself, and facing my own challenges as a divorcee and single parent, that I could fully appreciate how hard that must have been for them.
At the age of ten, Nechells become more troublesome. There were individuals and families moving into the area that my mother did not want us, her children, to associate with. As they say: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are, since those of whom you associate with is who you become.”
My mother wanted us to achieve more than she had herself, so we moved to a more affluent area of the city, called Acocks Green. At the time it was predominantly white, and along with my brothers I joined the local secondary school. We were very much in the minority. In my year group alone, I recall no more than five black/West Indian children.
I enjoyed my school years, playing lots of sports because that’s what I was pushed into. However, in the back of my mind I thought I was quite stupid, because although I was never tested for any of the top sets, I was placed in the groups, which today would be classed as “special educational needs”.
The highest grade I could possibly achieve in any of my exams was a Grade C. But my Jamaican parents encouraged and assured us that our accomplishments would go far beyond the limitations put on us. Education was paramount.
At the age of 13, so in the early eighties, I decided that I wanted to pursue the career of a secretary. Being in love with Bobby Ewing (a fictional TV character), I saw the professional life of a secretary on the TV show Dallas. Working in a skyscraper office block, wearing fantastically fashionable clothes, typing a few letters and heading out for lunch with the boss – that’s how I wanted to live my life. It looked great.
By the age of 16, I planned to go to a secretarial college – and did. After studying there for two years, I left with a fist full of qualifications and a handful of experience, so I started working. That’s when my itchy-feet began, lasting for five years. I moved to London twice, and during the entire time I temped.
What that gave me was to try before I bought, rather than the other way around. I took complete control in discovering exactly what kind of job/position I wanted, and proactively looked for a company in which I could craft the solid foundation in my own professional career. So I worked in local authority, which I hated because I did not share the same way of thinking and acting as the public sector. In those environments, the common attitude was well if it does not get done today, I suppose it will be done tomorrow, or next week, or next month.
That was not my mindset.
I wanted things done today, right away. I was impatient. As I was in competition with myself, I pushed myself. This lead to my decision to go into the private sector. I loved it in London. For the relatively shy young woman that I was back then (believe it or not), being in a city that buzzed helped me to break out of my shell. The people may not have been as friendly as those in Birmingham, where I’m from but they had passion and drive for success. That is what I fed off.
After a fairly short stay in the big city, I moved back to Birmingham because I fell in love. At the age of 22, I became a married woman. That sounds so crazy to me now, as my daughter is 22 years old. Unfortunately, that marriage was nowhere near the fairytale I had dreamed of. I spent my twenties with a man who physically, mentally and emotionally abused me.
By the age of 30, I said to myself “Enough!” I got out.
My journey was about to take another big turn. I came across a man who had an excitement and zest for life. He was an inventor. Over a span of 10 years, we had an amazing journey, full of personal and professional experiences but unfortunately that ended too. I endured untold financial abuse, leaving my family and I in over £100, 000 of debt.
Giving everything I had been through up until this point, over the last two decades, I made a conscious decision at the age of 40, to dedicate the next 10 years of my life to myself. I wanted to trust in myself, believe in myself and do everything that was possible to succeed.
This book is about my journey; the mistakes made, from which came the lessons learned, as well as the triumphs I have had. I hope it gives you, my dear reader, an insight into what is possible, and what you can achieve in your own life, in the midst of any adversity. I trust that you will enjoy it – laugh where I laugh, with the possible tear here or there too – but know and remember above all else, I won, and in your own battles you can win also.