Friday 11 May 2018

Things you may not know about me - work, rest & play

Things you may not know about me - "work, rest & play"

Starting with "work" I've had jobs in sport, special events, tourism, rural & countryside issues, economic development, public relations & marketing, skills and training. Furthermore I've worked in the public, private and charity sectors.

I've: been a Pool Lifeguard, worked with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy in Bath, ran a touring caravan site, advised the management board of a country park, helped design the largest visitor experience on the site of Garden Festival Wales in the South Wales Valleys, managed a rural business service across Devon & Cornwall, had a part in the development of the Eden Project (I stood on the top of the china clay pit with local councillors trying to persuade them that this was a great idea when all they could think of were the drawbacks), was a Board Member of "Taste of the West" - the regional food group for the West Country - and I judged a national food competition in a posh hotel in London, advised the East Midlands Regional Assembly about rural issues, been interviewed by a TV crew sat in the back of a rickshaw, organised Ministerial visits and attended Royal Opening ceremonies, designed business plans to promote jobs and inward investment in the East Midlands, won a national "Investors in People" Award competing against Heads of HR from local authorities and health authorities, helped spend £13 million pounds worth of European money, worked with Solihull MBC & Job Centre Plus to get people back into work, helped Solihull Sustain write a winning bid to run a volunteer bureau by doing some pre-research, lectured at Wolverhampton and Worcester Universities, match managed an Ashes Test Match and T20 County Cricket, worked with the New Zealand Women's Cricket team - and nearly had to play for them due to squad injuries!, driven a transit van delivering internal post around Birmingham ...and I've taught Supervisory Skills to civil servants, care home and social workers in the Isle of Man.

I've been TUPE'ed three times, made redundant once and then set up my own business doing job interview coaching.

Closer to my current role - I've chaired job interview panels in some unusual settings like a TV studio, in a church hall (when a window cleaner appeared behind us unbeknownst to the panel), and in a store cupboard at a Community Forest. I've interviewed for jobs in, for example, housing, transport, rural development, press / PR / marketing, project workers, educational resources, admin / office management, equality & diversity etc. I've even done "speed interviewing" of schoolchildren to give them a taste of what the real world is all about.

As far as "rest" goes I enjoy photography, watching films and I love a good quiz ...since my brain seems to retain trivia better than useful stuff!

And lastly as far as "play" is concerned you may not know that I played county cricket for 14 years for Somerset and Derbyshire, I umpired hockey to junior international standard, and now I play golf off a 17 handicap.

So that's a whistle stop tour of things you may not know about me at work, rest and play... Mars bar anyone??

Clean shoes = attention to detail

Shoe cleaning is a kind of meditation for me. When all the footwear in the house is shiny & showing a “clean pair of heals” on our shoe rack, I feel calm and like “the universe” is in its rightful place - at least in that moment.

I’m also reassured that the next time I grab a pair off the shelf their cleanliness will make me feel great as I pull them on ...and may also make people think I’m wearing new shoes!

It was something my father always encouraged me to do. Keeping my shoes clean would help others take me more seriously. It was about self-respect as well as keeping your belongings in good order. (Plus it meant they’d last longer - always an eye on minimising unnecessary expenditure my Dad!)

Thinking about footwear recently reminded me of an old boss who said the best piece of advice his parents gave him was to remember to polish the heels as well as the fronts of his shoes. They viewed it as good manners. They told him that for all he knew someone’s first impression may be from following him down a corridor or up a flight of stairs.

So when I found myself unexpectedly with enough spare time... and finally with some sunshine beaming down on our back patio... to encourage me outdoors with my shoe cleaning kit... I found myself pondering this nugget of wisdom and how it may help my clients.

My work introduces me to lots of people who’ve either never had a job interview before or whose recent experiences have encouraged them to seek my coaching before they next face a panel of eagerly expectant interviewers.

I often talk with them about how to make a great first impression. It’s that one teeny weeny, initial glimpse and almost infinitesimally small fleeting moment to present themselves at their absolute best.

What do they want their interviewer’s lasting impression to be? How professional do they appear at first glance? Are they making themselves look like an ideal candidate? How easy is it for them to be “pictured” doing the job?

It’s a useful reminder that sometimes the small things can take on a larger significance. Clean shoes - front and back - does mean you’ve bothered to polish all their sides. And yet it also reflects useful qualities of attention to detail and completing the task no matter how mundane it may seem.

Meanwhile - on our back patio - I know I also enjoy the satisfaction of being able to stand back at the end and admire the results of my efforts and to see the benefit of all of my input. I suspect that in our seemingly faster and faster paced lives it’s a rare experience. So I try to freeze the moment in my consciousness like a photo. Then I smile at the thought that people will think that these are all new pairs of shoes ...and then my smile broadens as I imagine my Dad would’ve liked that thought too.

Next time you see me I suggest you check my feet first. Are my shoes shiny front and back? Yes? Then you’ve caught me “putting my best foot forward.”