Being Around Good Influences - Professionally and Personally.
Throughout my career up to now, I have been fortunate enough to pick up lots of valuable experience. I use the word fortunate, as I honestly don’t think there are any experiences in life where you can’t learn something, whether it’s good or bad. You can always use any type of experience to take bits from and learn from, and as a result look to grow both personally and professionally and to be the best version of yourself.
You’ll struggle to come across a better teacher in life than experience itself, but with saying that, I’ve found that being around good people, who will help you, support you when needed, and help drive you when things are a struggle - as we will all face struggle at some point - is absolutely key.
There are a few people out there in my professional working life who I have, and continue to really look up to. I find that their ways of doing things really rub off on me in a positive and effective way and help give me that focus and extra drive that is sometimes needed.
The first job in my career, on the poultry side (besides having a paper round when I was 14) was working at Banham Poultry in Attleborough, during weekends on the factory floor, mainly in the packing and dispatch areas. This was a good first job for me as I got to learn lots about the way raw material was handled, the packaging processes, the way the product is handled through from coming out of the chiller to being prepared for delivery to the customers.
My supervisor at weekends at the time was a guy called Paul Sothcott, and he was somebody who was a really good influence on me in my early years. He was well liked by everybody, was always approachable, created a good team atmosphere and above all, the work always got done. The team was great and in that respect it was probably the best time I’ve had working at a company. He was an excellent role model for me when I started out and was somebody who you were excited to work for, and set me on a good path and who you would aspire to be like. He is someone who I owe so much to for giving me, and helping me get the opportunities in the early years - as getting given opportunities I think is one of the hardest things in life, mainly because there are so many people out there who aren’t brave enough to give them.
Of course, at a large company with so many people, its inevitable you will get all sorts of characters within the workplace. Whilst there were staff around in senior positions who were ‘old school’ in their way of leading by imposing themselves on others by asserting fear and intimidation on others, with the hope of driving them and who just had their own career interests at their forefronts.
That style of course doesn’t work with everybody. Paul was somebody who just had the natural ability of a modern day leader and was someone who was also there to support me during some difficult times personally.
Thankfully, the ‘old school’ leadership style is something that seems to be dying out, and I believe it will be gone once the remainder of the previous generation make way or retire. You don’t see many of these unapproachable people around, who don’t want to learn anymore or respect any views from others these days and I honestly think there is a way of working which doesn’t involve having to drive down other people. No matter what stage of your career or life you’re at, there is never a time to stop learning.
Of course, today in 2020, with technology, a lot has changed and has moved on much in the last 20 years, mostly for the better. As well as the Internet, Platforms such as LinkedIn, and other forms of social media can be used to network in such a positive way and provides a great tool to be able to find good influences to help you, both professionally and personally.
I’ve mentioned Stuart Webber, the current Norwich City FC Sporting Director, in some of my previous blog posts. For me, Stuart is another great example to follow for loads of people, and its good to be able to try to learn bits from people like that to implement into your own style of working. I believe a lot in what Stuart often says about creating an identity and a plan, and believing in it. I believe this is the right way to go when you’re in the working world, is to stick to your own style and beliefs, and never stop learning ways to improve the things you’re doing now.
A few others to mention, among others, who I think are brilliant examples, even though I’ve never met two of them personally, are local heroes Loui Blake, Chris Reeve and Ps. Jon Norman.
I follow Loui via social media and I’m a massive fan of his lifestyle and the way he goes about his work and tackles challenges. He sets a great example for anyone to follow. I also love the relentless positivity that Chris brings via his social media posts in what can sometimes be a really tough world.
I have been fortunate enough to meet Ps. Jon a couple of times briefly, and to play a bit of football with him a few years back, but I love how so many look up to him at the way he and his wife Chantel lead Soul Church in Norwich. His services on Sundays bring light and hope to so many, and again are a brilliant source of encouragement. I have been watching his new leadership podcasts which give great advice and guidance - particularly in such a tough period such as the one we are all going through as a world right now. I would urge anyone who is looking for some inspiration and a good example to learn from and follow, to look at these three guys.
Try to keep a good distance from anyone who doesn’t make you feel enriched and encouraged, and those who do nothing but drain your energy and question everything you do and get in the way of you doing the work that suits you best. If you believe in a vision of what you want to achieve life, stick with it, believe in it and be around those who will influence you and encourage you in the right way. I’m only 36 and have lots to learn still, but this is honestly the way I feel is the best forward…