When I think back on my employed life, the same people arise from my subconscious again and again. These guys must have had a pretty big impact on me at the time, and have occupied a great deal of headspace ever since.
Pondering this, I have come to the conclusion that there are distinct types of people who influence your career, and your life. The names of those who have influenced my beliefs and choices trip off the tongue without hesitation. I won’t write their names, but I want to describe them and their influence, as I’m interested to see if the same type of influencers play a starring role in your memories. Do you recognise any of the following protagonists from your career story?
The Role Model
I can immediately think of three strong, influential women, each of whom became my role model in three different roles. I greatly admired each of them, and what they had in common was their hunger to progress, ballsy approach, sense of personal style and, most importantly for me, their willingness to send the ladder down for upcoming talent. Each of these ladies was inspirational in their own way, and I was truly grateful for their confidence in me to be more than I was. They each credited me with more responsibility, empowering me to prove myself and gain the experience I so needed. I’m proud to know them, and thank them from my heart.
This figure resides in memories from my very first job. Under his leadership, I was introduced to targets, something that suits my inner obsessive to a tee. A retail manager, he challenged and motivated me to upsell sundry items, polishes, protectors, inner soles – you name it – and it worked. I vividly remember staring up at a wall chart and seeing my name at the top of the sundries leader board, and feeling ever so pleased with myself. I found it so empowering to achieve a set target, and suddenly understood that it’s one of those things that makes me tick.
Bully is a strong word, and what is perceived as bullying by one is not necessarily perceived in the same way by all. However, this person seemed determined to step on my hands as I tried to progress up the ladder. Condescending at best and plain nasty at worst, this person made my time at work very uncomfortable. I saw with my own eyes evidence that she tried to sabotage my prospects along with my employer’s goodwill, and can’t forgive her. I must let it go, but the memories are still vivid. Although I do clearly still harbour a slight grudge, the lesson I gained was to never let anyone else stop me or tell me I can’t. In fact, a bit of adversity made me even more determined to succeed.
If you are lucky, there is someone at work who really makes you smile. You’ll look forward to seeing their sunny face, and take pleasure in spending lunchtimes and evenings in their marvellous company. One friend in particular sticks in my mind. She was and is beautiful, inside and out, and made my working hours and after hours a lot of fun. We’ve sadly lost touch, though still friends on Facebook, but I look back fondly on that time of my life and thank her for the memories.
The last person I am thinking of was the first real leader I ever met. He falls into the ‘statesman’ category in my mind, someone who is wise, visionary, inspirational, generous, and charming. The founder of the company, he had the ability to reach out and motivate staff at every level, even me in my relatively lowly status. He took the time and effort to get to know each of us individually, to inspire each of us personally. In fact, to give you an indication of his reach, my husband wasn’t even employed by the company, and I know that he thinks of him often, too. One Christmas, he gifted me a book that changed my life. You can read about that here.
So, do these figures show up in your career memories? Can you readily name those who took on the roles of role model, motivator, bully, friend, and leader? Or does your career story have different characters in the starring roles? I’d love to hear.