“Trust not what inspires other members of society to choose a career. Trust what inspires you.” – The Lazy Person’s Guide to Success
What makes for a good working life?
A well defined / designed job role?
A boss who shows genuine care for your interests and well-being?
Awareness of, and confidence in, your own skill set, ability and potential?
Empowering and involving people?
What about Fun, Enjoyment, Happiness, Challenge, Trust? How big a part do these play in our working lives? How big a part should they play?
I have been a direct employee for the vast majority of my working life and I have worked for some exceptional businesses who provided all of the above, in abundance. I now work in the freelance world. A world where a better working life is an output of my own stimulus and choices.
I have been incredibly fortunate, some would say lucky, with my choices. The overriding factor in my own success was my decision to join the Hospitality sector. I blogged back in 2013 on Challenging the Perception of this great industry.
To give you a flavour, there are over 70,000 restaurants, 12,500 hotels, 52,000 pubs, bars and nightclubs and when you add these to food service management, gaming, events, visitor attractions, tourist centres and self-catering holiday parks and hostels, you can see how varied this industry really is. I also don’t know too many industries where, within 3-5 years you could be leading a business turning over a million pounds.
You don’t need qualifications or experience to get started. To progress careers, and be successful at all levels from bar to board, I’ve observed people who, in no particular order:
Have bags of passion, the ability to learn, apply it, succeed, fail, learn from mistakes, get up, go again, listen, learn, develop, respect, admit when they are wrong, question, do, absorb, think, challenge, be interested, be interesting, adapt, influence, reflect, change, be themselves, lead, manage, show they care, support, take ownership and responsibility, coach, be curious, do awesome work consistently, stop, make time for themselves. Doesn’t require much, eh?
My working life began in a working mens club. I didn’t take it too seriously back then. Unbeknown to me, my career began in 2001 when I joined a pub as a team member. Quickly, I was invested in and developed through the traditional pathway; Team Coach, Assistant Manager, Relief / General Manager. These role were fun, enjoyable, challenging, empowered and trusted. I had bosses who cared and were genuinely interested in my well-being. Did this make a difference? You can bet your life it did.
Did I have an awareness of, and confidence in, my own skill set, ability and potential? Upon reflection, to an extent, yes. But at the time, I didn’t have a clue. Confidence is so important in realising your potential and there wasn’t a training course for that.
So, what did I do?
I said yes. Even if I didn’t know if could do something, I accepted the challenge. This approach enabled me to succeed in a variety of people roles: Operations, Training Officer, Training Manager, Recruitment & Training Manager, Business Partner, Learning & Development Lead, People & Training Manager, Group People Manager, Brand Business Partner, People Director, Owner of People Stuff Matters.
Learning and Development is different now. It is less about formal classroom training but more about experiential learning, reflective practise, social learning through communities and networks supported with some structured learning. It is utterly brilliant. I am blessed with a stand-out Personal Learning Network (PLN).
I now work in different sectors and I’m learning new stuff all the time. The big questions and, if I am honest, challenges to myself have not changed much over the years:
- How will my role contribute positively to the businesses I work with?
- How can I continue to encourage others to try something new, something which perhaps is thought of as being beyond their ability ?
- What can I do to deliver what clients need vs what they want? Granted, they may be the same.
- Who challenges my work and my thinking?
- Where do I seek counsel, inspiration and guidance?
- How will I continue to grow and develop myself?
- Why do I do what I do?
- How do I give back? This one, I am working on here.
When I consider my prospects when I first started work, never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I could achieve what I have during my career. Moreover, I now do great work and have the most amazing working life. And I’m not finished yet. Proud face right here.