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Monday, 15 February 2010

When real world and literature collide.....

I felt I must share my recent experience with you that reflects on Heather's post on our recent seminar from Andy Burnham. I attended the seminar, and I will admit that I was expecting a slick, new labour spokesman who was only going to offer the "party line" and use the opportunity to "sell" their latest policies in readiness for the upcoming election. How wrong I was. I was greatly taken with Mr Burnham's depth of knowledge of his current role and his genuineness in wanting to share his vulnerability with us. Even a moment of humour when his mobile rang and he hastily switched it off with "I wish Gordon'd leave me alone!".

Anyway, over the weekend there were times I was thinking about my own career pathway in all its twists and turns and wondering if I had stuck to the principles valued by said Mr Burnham - be true to yourself, your values and your beliefs, show others around you that you are confident and committed to what you are doing and thus be an inspiration to those around you. (Hmm not sure that was always the case - maybe that's a whole other blogpost!) and there were times when I was not reflecting on this at all.

Sunday evening was one of these times - everything stops between 8-9pm whilst I watch the BBC Lark Rise to Candleford - adapted from the novels of Flora Thompson. It was during this latest episode that a book called Self Help by Samuels Smiles became central to one of the storylines which demonstrated the importance of character, perseverance and conduct "if we want to better ourselves then application, diligence and cheerful persistance is all" (Dorcas Lane the post mistress). After the programme I thought I would see if this book really existed or whether it was just part of the script. And it does!!

"Even the humblest person, who sets before his fellows an example of industry, sobriety, and upright honesty of purpose in life, has a present as well as a future influence upon the well-being of his country; for his life and character pass unconsciously into the lives of others, and propagate good example for all time to come."Smiles S (1866) Self Help revised edition London:Murray.

I wonder if this is what Mr Burnham was meaning when talking about his own experiences? He stated that at each stage of his career development ( from being a journalist in Manchester, then as a Parliamentary Researcher through to MP and now Secretary of State for Health) he felt he was being exposed to a level he had not dealt with before and asked himself "can I really go in and discuss at that level?". Each time he stepped up a level he thought "you're out of your depth now!" and expected at any time someone to tap him on the shoulder and ask him to leave. I know he is not alone (and neither am I ) in having that feeling on a regular basis!

His answer to this is that this is "normal", but by being true to yourself, your values and your beliefs then you will give the right impression and people will begin to believe in you. Talk about what you know, stick to your guns.
As Shakespeare says: " This above all, to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man" (Hamlet)

Ultimately I guess it is about having higher expectations of yourself and not hindering your development (and maybe the development of others) by not starting something new because you feel "out of your depth". Stick a toe in the water - once you've got your feet wet you may as well dive in!!!


Jean said...

Nice Post !

I'm glad to read this post.
Thanks for sharing your experience with me. It is very useful for me.


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