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Dear Reader, can I tell you a secret? A few years back, I found myself sitting at my desk on one of those working days when everyone else seems to be somewhere else on holiday and you’re wondering why you’re sat there and not on a beach like everyone else, and, I was bored. 

Leaning right back in my swivel office chair I let my eyes rest, unfocused, on the desk in front of me for, I don’t know how long.  Then I slowly gazed over at my notice board and up to a solitary pinned piece of A4 paper, as if I was looking at it for the very first time (although I’m pretty sure that by this point in time it had been pinned up there for a good few years).  As I kept staring at this piece of paper with its neatly typed list of my key contacts’ name I started to notice how many of those names were of senior women…

Then, a big, crazy, random idea popped right through me, like an arrow, straight into my head…”There are a lot of women on this list. They, like me, must have a lot of bras they no longer wear and they must know a lot of women who also have a lot of unwanted bras ….. mhhh. Isn’t there a charity which collects them?….(p.s. yes there is!  It’s called “Smalls for All”)  mhhh. Could I use this female network to help other women in a totally new way and which doesn’t involve any 10km “fun” runs?”

Then, in my usual spirit of act first think later, I immediately leaned forward and fired off an email to all these bra wearing female leaders headed “I Want your Smalls.”

My phone rang immediately –  “Lauren”, said this law firm Partner in a very concerned, hurried voice, “I need to tell you; I think you’ve been hacked!  I just got a very strange email from you asking for my underwear! I thought it can’t possibly be from YOU” (you know, me being General Counsel of a leading asset manager and someone who usually only emails her about business!).   Yup, indeedy, I assured her it was from me and I explained my crazy random spontaneous idea to her. “Wow!  Ok….  I have loads of bras which need a new home and I didn’t know what to do with them.  I’ll ask the other ladies in the office too.  Leave it with me!”.

In the days which followed my brazen email, beautiful bras in every colour & size imaginable started finding their way to me…

As word continued to spread, quizzical faced colleagues would appear at my office door holding overflowing bags of underwear: “Lauren, apparently this is for you???  I was just in a meeting with Sarah from PwC and she asked me to give you this? (Sarah being a VERY senior Partner of said firm, in our office to discuss some multi billion transaction- oh and deliver bras!).  Bras kept magically appearing from all over the city: from law firms, the Big 4 accounting firms, Kings College London professors and male colleagues with daughters. My cups were literally over flowing and to be honest, I was pretty taken back by how quickly this idea was growing a life of its own.

As you now know, this was all unplanned so a) I hadn’t thought about how many bras would come my way, if any; or b) where I would store them if they did!  My office was starting to look like a haberdashery with precarious piles of underwear toppling over everywhere.  So I grabbed several old litigation boxes and started to fill them with my growing bounty of brasseries.  Shocked by the rising tower of boxes piled in my office a curious boss wandered in one day “Lauren, you didn’t tell me we had a new piece of litigation, is that their disclosure?” … “Ha! – lift up one of the lids and take a look inside”.. now that was fun to watch!

Now you might be able to understand why my Mum has always said I’m dangerous when bored.  Who knows what I might get up to!  I used to take this as an insult.  Now I realise it’s actually part of my success as it’s often while bored that crazy ideas like this come to visit with me to see if I’m ready to play with them.  As just to be very clear I didn’t go into work that day (or in fact any day before that) ever thinking I was going to ask a bunch of senior women in the City for their bras!  There’s something magical about the state of being bored.  It seems to allow inspiration a chance to break through the clouds of our otherwise preoccupied minds to deliver new ideas straight to us.  It’s like deliveroo for the imagination delivering new ideas and novel inventions straight to you wherever you are, but better as you don’t even need to know what you want to order first!  It just arrives for free, right on time, and as if you had chosen it.  After all, Archimedes shouted Eureka while sat in the bath, not while looking through his to do list.

So why then does it feel scandalous to admit to you that I was bored at work one day (remember, shush…).  And, am I only willing to tell you this particular story out of many I could have chosen from because it produced a worthy result?  Because there’s the rub, right there. It feels like corporate heresy to admit to “being bored” in a workland which values effort, trying harder and keeping busy.  As a society we equate busyness with productivity and so worthiness.  We look to celebrate and reward the productive corporate warriors and not the day dreamer sat staring at their notice board.  Don’t they have enough to do? (P.S. in case you’re worried, I do, thanks!).   But I think we’ve got this all wrong in our black and white way of viewing things.  Busyness is neither good nor bad: but what I do now know is it isn’t the only sign of success.  I now see how when we keep our heads diligently down ticking off our lengthy to do lists we’re only busy fulfilling the ideas we already had, whereas when we open up to being bored we are pointed towards what could be developed next. So yes I’m a little anxious sharing my story with you (Hi Boss) but I’m sharing this secret with you today as I’m now far more scared that continuing only to reward the habit of busyness will only continue to keep us successfully stuck in the past.  Being more bored, more often, could actually make you more successful. Better yet, someone out there could be waiting for the very solution your crazy arsed “out of nowhere” idea will provide next… What?  I know!

By the way, I can hear you telling me you don’t have time to be bored.  Is that true?  Really?  I for one am a rather busy lady and I’ll admit I sometimes find I magically have time to surf Instagram and get lost in the rabbit hole of some new skin care pop up ad which is convincing me to buy its elixir of youth before my next meeting…..  What if I didn’t go get lost on Instagram in those 10 minutes of spare time and instead just sat there staring into space?  Could I do that?  Could you?  I wonder what new ideas might pop into your head if you did?

I’m pretty damn certain this crazy idea of mine would never have come to Lawyer Lauren while sat there trying to think harder.  This idea truly came “out of nowhere” when my mind was bored empty and ready to receive it.  I wonder what else might be up this bored minx’s sleeve just waiting for me to pay attention to it; life never fails to get more interesting when I do!  

So, let’s stop worrying about appearing lazy and worry more about living a life of to-do list mediocrity when we could be leading a life filled with inspired success. What other stories and adventures are waiting for us on the other side of being more bored?  Will you please let me know?

Love,

Lauren  x

P.S. I believe these 2 ingredients helped to conceive this little venture

  1. At the time of daydreaming, the UK was hooked on Netflix’s “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” and I for one knew I had many a barely worn bra in my chest of drawers; and
  2. a friend’s Facebook post about her annual collection for the charity “Smalls for All”.

P.S.S. I only found the job I’m in today after I found myself absentmindedly flicking through a legal magazine and onto the job ads at the back while sat bored, at my law firm desk….. 

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