Life is a like a jigsaw puzzle and good leaders are people who see the bigger picture and try to fit the pieces they are confronted with so they fit harmoniously into it. The Army taught me a lot about leadership. The Commanding Officers in my own regiment had given me support, encouragement and inspiration and I had learned a lot from their example. I had also experienced poor leadership from some officers in other regiments I had to deal with in the course of my army service. I had the opportunity to try out my own style of leadership during my last few years in the Band and it is for others to judge me on that. By 1978 I had come to the end of my contracted time in the army. I had passed the exams and achieved the highest rank a non-commissioned officer could reach and I was now at the point where my next step would be to take the commission I was offered and sign on for a further term or leave the army and go back into civilian life with a career change. I was in my forties and at the prime of my life with a family whose security, education and future I had to consider, but I also had to be true to myself. As a boy of fifteen, when I had left Oakburn Road and ventured out into the world of work, I was determined to make my own future and not allow myself to be forced to fit into a box designed for me by others and into which I didn’t feel I belonged. I felt the same way about my future in the army. I was not the type to want to spend the rest of my life behind a desk, organising administrative details of personnel or logistics. I felt I had so much to offer the world of sport, and the army would not be where my talents for this could best be utilised. I had spent the last decade as a professional musician as well as a professional soldier. During that time I had been given tempting offers to join the backing groups of leading vocalists such as Anita Harris, Peggy March and Nena. Alan Price had complimented me on my percussion skills. I could have done permanent session work as a percussionist in studios and broadcasting. Most recently Michael John had dangled that carrot in front of me but I had resisted all these temptations because I could see the insecurity of the popular music world and I was not chasing five minutes of fame. My experiences in performing at the highest level with top artistes and in broadcasting in Europe Britain and Canada had allowed me to see just how it was for musicians. I had a family to support and I needed to be in secure employment which would lead to a place where I could feel proud of my achievements. Until now the army had provided me with the opportunity to do music and sport as well as many other fulfilling things and get paid for it. In the commercial world of popular music, there would be no opportunity to be paid to do sport as well. I could not see myself immersed wholly in music for the rest of my working life.
Simple choice then, you might be thinking. Stay on, accept the commission you are offered and be an officer in the British Army. Many of my colleagues and family members thought that was what I should do. They would have given anything for such an opportunity and the status that came with it. Most of my senior officers also urged me to do this. They were seeing it from the army’s point of view because the army had invested a lot of time and money in training me to this point and they certainly did not want to lose me. I was not interested in status. I wanted to feel I had achieved something that I could be proud of and which I had planned and mapped out for myself. It was that creative drive that maybe only other creative individuals will understand. It was a drive not to do something others want you to do because they think it is best for you, and probably because it is best for them. I did not want to have my creative urge stifled by others who wanted to shape my plans and how I should achieve them. I still felt I had a lot to offer the world of sport and I could see a role for myself in that world because it was something that I knew I was good at and which I enjoyed more than anything else. I had seen how much pleasure sport can give to so many people. The health benefits it brings to participants as well as the social benefits of team work, and the bonding of communities it brings to participants as well as spectators. Above all I wanted to make my team the best it could be and I wanted to see my adopted country, Britain, be the best it could be in sport on the international stage. I could see a role for myself in that future and I wanted to set about creating it. I could use my leadership skills and my administrative ability to help shape the world of sport. Maybe I was now too old to be an Olympic decathlon medallist, but I had three children who had their lives in front of them and I could help them to achieve that goal because I could help them to do so.
Major Meade was one of the few officers who understood my point of view in this. He had helped me change career directions when I moved from being a tank crewman to join the band. He would now help me to choose the right resettlement course to get me into a civilian career in sports management. I know the other senior officers thought it would give me time to reconsider. They hoped that I would agree at the end of it to accept a commission after all and stay on for a further term. So I found myself on a new kind of management course in London where my fellow participants included Sir Michael Edwards, at that time managing director of British Leyland! I was there as the representative of the British Army on this course and I did not want to let the Army or my regiment down.
If you want to know how I attempted to achieve my ambitions in high level sports management and entertainment , then click on the “follow” pop-up button at the bottom right hand corner of this page, and sign up, or follow me on my “Jane Joseph author” page on Facebook. Earlier parts of the story are also found on this website. If you want to find out what happened in my later life when I returned to help develop my birth country Guyana in South America, then order “The ElDorado Affair” by Jane Joseph ISBN 978-0-9932409-0-4 published by Sapodilla Press available in paperback or Kindle format from Amazon.co.uk, order it through Waterstones or your local book store via Nielsens teledata or read it in Kindle format ISBN 978-0-9932409-1-1 available worldwide on Amazon.