I have had the pleasure, and privilege, of delivering project management training to 2014/15 Charityworks cohort as part of their management programme.

They are graduate trainees now, but I know they will be our future senior managers, directors and leaders in social care in the future.

The time I have spent with them has helped me reflect on my own youth as I set out on my careers in management and leadership 40 years ago.  What would my 58 year old self tell my 18 year old self?

Then and now
Then and now

At 18, I made the decision that I was going all out to get my first stripe in the Army.  If I could go back in time to 1975 there would be two pieces of news! And 20 leadership lessons I would pass on:

The News……….

The Good News: Platform Shoes will never come back for men!

The Bad News: Your hair isn’t coming back either!

And now……..

20 Leadership Lessons to my 18 year old self:

  1. Re-invent yourself: keep doing something different, add to your talents, skills and knowledge, and don’t be satisfied with who you are now. Surprise people with what you can offer
  2. Don’t take your baggage with you: Whatever went wrong, whoever hurt you or whoever you think set you back, you must move on.  Let it go, otherwise it will slow you down on your journey
  3. Stop worrying: I was a worrier then, and I am a worrier now, so you will never change. If you must worry, only worry about the things you can control.  Do get some perspective on your worries though.  What you are worrying about now – will it be such a big deal in 6 months’ time?  Probably not.
  4. It takes 12 months to make the job yours: I had to wait till 1999 to hear this gem, so I am passing it on to you now.  I heard it from my Boss at the time.  It reassured me that someone would give me 12 months to settle in.  I have done a number of appointments since that one and he was right, each new job has taken me 12 months to get my head around it.  I would also say it takes another 6 months for you to get that winning team and start flying.
  5. Want to be a success? Start thinking of yourself as a success already. Yes, it is that easy. It’s about having a winning mind-set
  6. Hard work and relentless focus: Hard work will always beat Talent when Talent doesn’t work hard. Everything you choose to do you must give your total focus.  Don’t be distracted with what you want to achieve
  7. What is your Unique Selling Point? What makes you different? Stand out from the crowd. We are all paid to do a good job, that is a given.  So what is it about you that can make a difference to those you work with, who work for you and those you will support?  Think of it as your unique selling point
  8. Think about your Image: What do you want to be known for? Take some time to think about what your brand will be. When someone thinks of you, what do you want them to think?  This is what I want you to be….You are always well groomed, you have good manners, you are always punctual, you are consistent, you are optimistic, you are fit and you help others.  Got the image? Now protect it by living it each day (there are no vacations from your image!)
  9. Mentors: Find yourself a Mentor.  Now start finding yourself lots of Mentors.  They will help you move faster to where you want to get to in your career(s) they will counsel you and they will guide you on your journey.  Here is my favourite quote about Mentoring and what it means to me…”I’ve got the attitude which I still have today that if I find someone that I really admire, someone that I think, I want to be you.  I want to do the things the way you do them.  I’ve always sort of been stupid enough or brave enough to go up to them and say, will you mentor me?” Rene Carayol
  10. Network, Network, Network: It really will be about who you know.  Start building your networks now.  Build a quality network.  My top tip to you is when you go into a room think what can I do to help them, not what you think they can do for you.   
  11. Volunteer: Do something for someone and not be paid for it. You will be a Citizens Advocate, a School Governor for a Special Needs School and you will be part of a couple of projects for SSAFA ssafa.co.uk   It is about putting something back, making a difference, making you a better leader and a better person, so do it now.
  12. Stretch yourself to the Limit: You will only know how good you can be will be if you stretch yourself to the absolute limit. Only then will you realise your potential.
  13. Do something that scares you: Feel the fear and do it anyway.  A good leader has courage.  Knowing the potential for danger that you might fail in your endeavour, but you do it anyway because it is the right thing to do.
  14. Learn from other cultures: Embrace diversity, learn from different cultures and incorporate it into your life and your leadership style.
  15. Look after yourself: The good news is you will stop drinking when you have your first daughter in 1985.  You won’t miss it, you will have even more capacity for work and your running will improve (you will smash your PBs) so why not stop it now.  The bad news is you will never be able to give up chocolate (I have just finished off a Turkish Delight writing this!)
  16. Think about your career in 2 and 3 year cycles: Your postings in the Army will last 2 years for plum postings (Berlin, Hong Kong and SHAPE) and 3 years for regular tours – you will follow the same route in civilian life.  First Year settle in/learn the job; Second Year enjoy the fruits of your hard work/make your team the best, and 3rd year think “what is my next challenge”?  At 53 you will have the job of your dreams at dosh.org and www.thera.co.uk  from then on it will all be about holding on to what you have got.
  17. What is your life plan? Where do you want to get to and how? Create a Visual Success Map for your life and your career.  To help you here is something one of my former Bosses Farren Drury MBE has created and I recommend it to you. GOMAKEITYOURS Visual Success Map.  If you would like to know more about the VSM check out gomakeityours.com
  18. Only mix with positive people and work for/with the best: If they are not adding quality to your life let them go.  Decide you will only work with/for the best.  Choose to work with the best organisation you can find.  Embrace the values of your organisation – if you can’t move on.
  19. Set yourself the highest standards you possibly can and then live them every day: Be the best you can be every day.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Be competitive with yourself – be better than you were yesterday.
  20. Seek out role models: Actively seek out role models, people who are successful.   Observe them – what makes them successful?  Adopt some of those traits and winning behaviours without losing what makes you an individual.

So what would you tell your younger self? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @DoshLtd.