Twenty Five Years – Definitely Maybe

Twenty-five years’ service! Completed it! The key word for me in that is service. I have served the customer (quite literally) I have served teams in my leadership roles and I have served as part of a team. I have been served by the business with opportunity and support.
The Oasis Album “ Definitely Maybe ” was released on the 29th August 1994 to give some context and help you realise just how long 25 years is!! Whilst it has made me feel impossibly old looking back over my career and reflecting on how a quarter of a century (yikes) has passed and the many jobs I have done the only common factor I have been able to identify is my willingness to put my hand in the air and say yes “Definitely” I will have a go at that….even when “maybe” I have not had the specific skills and knowledge at the start of that job. I don’t like change (who does!?) but I have learnt to expect it and not be afraid of it and that sticking your hand up to lead it (being a rower) is better than sitting on the bank watching. Its harder but better!Everything in my life has changed in twenty five years apart from the name on the pay cheque.

I have done 7 different roles in 25 years, Store manager, Area Manager for three different channels, Project leaders for 2 big programmes – one closing a business. I have worked in our Logistics team, then as a Regional Sales Manager, followed by Head of Business Improvement and now Data Protection Officer. Not a career path that I would have ever predicted when I started selling shoes, but one I have loved.

Why are you still here? is a question I get asked a lot……. take out the still and it’s a good question and knowing your “why” is pretty fundamental to doing your best. I am (still) here because there have been endless opportunities and challenges and more importantly people who I have wanted to work for and with, teams I have wanted to lead and things that I believe passionately that I can make a difference doing. I am so thankful to all those who have given me a chance, taken a leap of faith and on occasion “put up with me” if you have been part of the journey I am forever in your debt for all the encouragement, challenge and support. Thanks for the good times! If we have had a great time in a store, danced together, had a beer, run or cycled together, had challenging conversations, been there on the best days to cheer each other on or sat with each other on the worst of days – thank you. Serving you has been a pleasure and an honour. If I have helped you in any way to do more, do less, follow a dream, make a change, be brave and bold I feel that my service has been of value.
So, I thought about what I would tell myself 25 years ago that I have learnt along the way and I came up with this very short list.
1**. We are where we are -** understanding the situation fully helps you make good decisions and create great solutions to problems. I struggle with 2 ears 1 mouth……use in that ratio – but keep asking why?
2. There is always a way around -* there are always solutions and answers, read a text book (old school) Google it! ask someone, learn quick fail fast and keep going until it is done.
3. Agreement is over rated* – I literally have wasted years of my life trying to get people to agree until I realised that action and to be moving forward are the key.
4. Feedback is more about your audience than you* – you just need to find the right audience! Can I give you some feedback? ……You can but its going to tell me more about you than me. I am self-aware enough of my pointy elbows, annoying persistent tenacity, constant jibber jabber and failure to follow instructions well. The very things that were highlighted as “development needs” actually turned out to be my greatest strengths.
5. Lastly on the album Definitely Maybe there is a song called Supersonic with some very wise words……….
I need to be myself
I can’t be no one else
I’m feeling supersonic
Give me gin and tonic
You can have it all but how much do you want it

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