Changing course

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach (Photo credit: dogfrog)

I never turn down a learning opportunity. I have no idea how much training and education I’ve had in the two and a half decades or so of my career, but I know it’s a lot. BP allowed me to attend college one day a week for six years and I went through every training course in the book. Temenos allowed me to take Open University courses for a further three years.

Among all of them, there are two courses that stand out; courses that changed my life. The first of these was the first course I ever attended. The title of the course was Putting People First. The whole company had to attend the course and when it came to my turn, it was held in Brighton. Everyone from senior executives down to tanker drivers and clerks attended the course.

The course was all about the importance of everyone’s job and how your actions affect those around you. Misery and happiness are both contagious and I know which I’d rather catch. The trainer used anecdotes such as a man asking two builders what they did for a living. The first said that he stuck bricks together. The second described the magnificent cathedral he worked on. I know which builder I’d rather be.

The course changed my outlook on life. The first thing it taught me is that I didn’t want to do the job I currently had. I wanted to do something with more significance. I didn’t know what at the time, but I knew if I studied hard, I was bound to progress. The day I returned to the office, I spoke to my boss about going to college.

The second course that changed my life was 2 decades later. It was a leadership course. It taught me the nuances of communication. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it is very important. Your choice of words, the medium, tone of voice, tempo and posture all have an impact on how your message gets received.

It also taught me about what motivates people. Why people do (or don’t do) what you ask of them. The course also asked a question which, for me, had no obvious answer. What makes you happy? I know when I am happy and when I am not, but the question of what makes me happy had me stumped for a long time.

Try answering it yourself. It might just change your life.

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