To a person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.Mark Twain. Or Abraham Maslow. Or Abraham Kaplan. It’s not clear who first said it. But it is very true.
Most of my life has been dedicated to making sure I have more than a hammer in my toolbox. If you want to actually help people, a comprehensive toolbox is vital. The wrong tool at the wrong time does more harm than good.
I started work at 15, which is approaching 35 years ago now. Over that time, I have worked in all sorts of places: supermarkets, childcare centres, petrol stations, schools, offices in the ‘top end of town,’ offices in Ho Chi Minh City, corporate boardrooms, ‘offices’ under boab trees in Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley, kitchen tables, under bridges, over the phone and all sorts of places in between.
Formal Qualifications and Business-Owning Experience
I have three University degrees (Law, Commerce and Psychology). In the early 2000s I established and then sold a successful training organisation. In 2007 I established a private psychology practice which was passed on to a colleague in 2016. Now I own and operate two other successful businesses: a marketing service for financial professionals and an NDIS service for people and families with a disability.
Those businesses are fun and make us a good living, but the thing I most enjoy doing is coaching! And my experience is that, for a successful coach, qualifications and formal experiences are only a small part of the story. More important is the collection of life experience that make us who we are. So, here is a little bit of my story.
Less Formal Qualifications and Experience
The things that teach us will about life are things that are out of our control or do not go to plan. Here is a little snapshot of those ‘life lesson’ type things for me.
- My wife and I have been married for almost 22 years. That was always the plan, but let’s be honest: these things have as much to do with good luck as good planning, and we lucked in!;
- I know the marathon that is raising children. Not every day can be the ‘best day ever.’ Some days are just for surviving and then gently forgetting;
- I grew up in a family in which disability was real and I have spent more than 15 years helping disabled people professionally;
- I know what it is like to lose a family member in a traumatic accident;
- My dad died way too young, but gee he did it well. I was fortunate to be able to be there with him in his last days and those memories remain a source of strength.
According to LinkedIn, no one has ever had a job they did not like or were not good at!
Most of us know better than to believe that. Here are some of the real elements of my professional career.
- I was once made redundant, which sort of came out of the blue. But I am not annoyed about it anymore. Really…
- I know the loneliness and loveliness of being the ‘man in the arena,’ the chief creator of a business (or four!);
- I have worked for good bosses and I have worked for crap bosses. Now I don’t work for any boss;
- I have been a good boss and I have been a crap boss;
- I have supported a much-loved colleague through a brutal media-shaming experience;
- I have sworn at people when that was not the smartest thing to do (see previous item);
- I have had to ‘step in’ and close a dear friends’ business for them, putting 50 people out of work.
- My first degree was a Bachelor of Commerce which I studied straight out of school. At the same time, I worked all sorts of jobs – from childcare to pumping petrol. After graduating, I initially started with Deloitte, but the corporate world did not really suit. So my first real job as a graduate was as a field officer with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in Kununurra, WA. It was a long way from Collins St, but that B.Comm was still very handy;
- From about the age of 24, I studied psychology part-time while teaching disabled people full time. I finished in 2000. I then worked as a psychologist until 2016;
- Between 2013 and 2017, to scratch an old itch, I completed a law degree, mostly late at night once the kids had gone to bed.