At the beginning of this year, I took some time out to reflect on where I was at in my career. I was at a point where I felt things have come to a standstill and that I wasn’t advancing as quickly as I would have liked to have thought. Some might say that I had become a bit “stale”.

For the more significant part of my career, I had worked with IBM’s collaboration software, better known as “Lotus”. Many of you will know of Lotus Notes, and for those who have been around for a while, you will remember the likes of Lotus Smartshuit; Lotus 1-2-3. I was not only good at what I was able to do but had a global reputation to match my achievements.

When I was 16 years old, I sat in a geography lesson at secondary school where my teacher talked about how, at some point in our careers, there would become a time where we may need to change career. He told us that this would lead to the need to retrain and learn something new. For some reason, I have never forgotten this comment.

Over three years ago, there was a significant shift in my career. I left something behind that I was good at, to enter into something completely new, if not foreign to me. I went to work with Utility organisations, through a business that specialises in Billing and Customer Information Systems. Not only was the industry foreign to me, but so was the specialisation of the products. I went from hero to zero, as I needed to learn something new.

The transition has not been smooth. I recall an occasion where I was travelling with the Chief Executive Officer. Over breakfast, I mentioned to him that I was struggling. I had very little confidence and sought his advice on how to best deal with building my confidence throughout this transition. His encouragement was a turning point for me.

Upon some personal reflection, it dawned on me that there was a log of experience and transferable skills that put me in good stead for what I am doing today. I think today’s term is “soft-skills”.
One of the areas I decided to focus on is to develop myself as a leader. Not only have I signed up to podcasts, and begun to read books, I am putting into practice the things that I have been learning. People like John C. Maxwell, Andy Stanly and Simon Sinek have become my goto coaches. These people challenge me and are helping me to rewire some of my thinking.

Six months into the year, and I would say that I have made some outstanding strides into a better career direction. Not only have I been developing as a leader, but my confidence has also increased. I am becoming even more aware of the people around me. Providing value and encouragement to people has become somewhat of a focal point for me. The confidence I have is because of the faith I have in the people around me.

A key thing I have learnt from John Maxwell is “the toughest person to lead is yourself”.