This month I'm pleased to publish a guest blog from Steve Bellew, Director of emva Ltd, who talks about his adventure into a new phase of his career. He discusses the importance of support during times of change, and the power of others recognising your strengths; even when you can’t see them yourself!
His blog starts with a key career milestone….
"At the start of this year, I realised that I was entering the 25th year of my professional life. There’s nothing like a quarter century milestone to make you feel that little bit older and weary!
That milestone got me thinking about the 25 years since I left college and I accepted my first pay packet (it was literally a small envelope containing £102 for a week’s work). As I was thinking, I realised that in nearly all cases, whatever I have achieved in that time would not have been possible without the help and guidance of other people. I’ve had some great (and not so great) bosses, team-mates, supporters and influences. But when I think really hard about it, the two most critical interventions in my career have come from coaches and mentors. One of these interventions happened when I was 17 and one took place late last year and into this one.
As a boy, from as young as I can remember, all I wanted to be was a professional cricketer. I played every spare hour of every day; on grass, concrete, in hallways, on driveways – basically anywhere I could imagine a cricket pitch. I played my first game of adult cricket at ten and by fourteen I was playing in Northamptonshire’s junior teams. But whilst I was definitely a promising young player, my dream of playing professionally seemed miles away.
One day I met a Coach / Manager at Middlesex County Cricket Club who was a former England player, and who went on to have a very successful career as an International Umpire. This man had no idea who I was, but when he saw me play he offered to do anything he could to help me develop. He invested a massive amount of time in me, helping me understand proper technique, preparing me mentally for what life as a cricketer would actually be like, and training me for hours and hours without ever taking a penny. He re-assured my parents that I would make it and went out on a limb to put his reputation on the line by recommending me for trials. Following one such recommendation, I went for a trial and was immediately signed as a professional after the game. The following week, I picked up that first pay packet of £102. This gentleman gained nothing financially from helping me realise my dream, but he did it because he saw something in me that I didn’t know I had, and he was desperate to get it out of me. He believed in me so that I believed in myself. He was my first true coach.
24 years later I’d reached a pivotal moment in my post cricket career (I had to give up and get a proper job at 22 after a particularly bad leg injury). After many years of working in big corporate organisations such as Tesco, Argos and Volkswagen Group, I had a burning desire to start my own business and enter the world of interim management. It was at this point that I went through the second coaching intervention that has changed my working life.
I met Kerry Thompson in 2017 when we worked together on a project at Volkswagen Group. She was a contractor, a very good one, and we quickly hit it off as friends and like-minded thinkers. I was always inspired by Kerry’s bright outlook on working life, but also intrigued by the balance and reward she took from running her own company.
We kept in touch and when I was thinking about making the move, I asked Kerry for help. Kerry immediately said yes and then proceeded to blow me away with the help and advice she gave me. I believe that the mark of a truly effective coach is knowing what sort of treatment and techniques motivates individuals to fulfil their potential. As we went on our journey together, there were times when Kerry saw I needed a confidence boost and re-enforced all the things she could see I was good at. There were also times that Kerry identified that I was putting un-necessary barriers in place, and that I needed the proverbial kick up the backside (and gave it to me!).
Kerry also recognised that sometimes, following the traditional coaching path of helping someone find the answers to life’s mysteries themselves, isn’t always the right way; more pragmatic intervention and support is needed. There were times when she literally stopped me in my tracks and showed me how to do things; things that I thought were complex but in fact weren’t. Her openness and trust made me feel comfortable and allowed me to get to the right answers in my own way – but she also gave me the answers when I struggled. She is a great example of a coach and a mentor.
We started this coaching / mentoring relationship about 12 months ago and I’m pleased to say that say this week, I launched my own interim management business. I’ve not so much taken a leap of faith, as put together and then executed a plan that I would not have been able to do without Kerry’s help and guidance. I will be eternally grateful to her but being honest, I think she has got as much out of watching me develop as I have done from her coaching and mentoring.
You might be reading this thinking that you’d like to make a similar change in your career. It may be that you want to take the next step in the career path you’ve already chosen. But if you feel that you can’t quite get there on your own, and you need your very own coaching ‘intervention’, then I can’t think of a better person to have by your side helping you, than Kerry. She has been a fantastic support during this adventure, and continues to be, as I move into this exciting phase of my career.”
To find out more about Steve, take a look at his website: emva.co.uk, and if you’d like to join the Akeno Adventure in order to develop your own career, contact me anytime on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free, no-obligation chat.
Remember, every adventure starts with the first step….