Thinking of who you help, helps you.

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farming hay

Each day, I would record a stock report on radio when I worked for ASX as a Corporate Relations Officer, in the early nineties.

Often, I would also do the midday live cross to ABC Regional Radio, reading out a long list of share prices. I would get a little nervous doing this, as it of course needed to be precise in transferring the latest share prices to an alphabetical list, and then reading out each one clearly in my best ABC voice: “Beee – Aiitch – Peee”, and the latest share price.

A year or so later, at a regional seminar I met a farmer. He told me that he would stop the tractor in the field to turn up the radio and listen to the stock prices. He said that he recognised my voice. He also suggested a few shares we should add to the list (he had a penchant for some of the speculative mining explorers of the day, if I recall correctly…)

What a difference meeting this man made! The next time I was in the hot seat reading the stocks into the big microphone in the office, I saw in my mind’s eye the farmer, waiting to hear how his fortunes were travelling on that particular day. I was reminded to be slow and clear as well as realising how important this relatively small and repetitive task was (in the days before smart phones) when this was his only means of getting a midday stock report update.

As I’ve recently been recording video to help people in career transition in addition to face-to-face support, I’ve been thinking about the clients who I’ve worked with over the last decade. I have been entrusted with their struggles and their triumphs, so I now attempt to speak to those people, through the medium of a camera. I’m aware that the information shared is highly valuable if I can deliver it with the right intent, so that it strikes a chord and is meaningful and useful to the people taking the time to watch it.

Transitions – they can be a tricky thing. Thinking of my client in their “transition tractor” out in the field, is a good way for me to begin. What do they most need right now, and how can I thoughtfully and effectively deliver the most important messages (and leave out the rest)? Where might they be on their ‘grief cycle’*? – which is as relevant for job loss as any other kind of grieving, or coming to terms with loss. Understanding that it is not a linear progression and that grief has it’s own time-frame.

*Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Model, 5 Stages of Grief, Pic credit: Shutterstock

Of course, it always helps if you have trodden the path yourself too. I am no farmer – but career change and transition I am both personally and professional familiar with, through ‘lived experience’. Reflection can provide you with empathy and the ability to tap into the feelings you yourself had, when you were in a similar situation.

In the past, I too have felt the sting of redundancy or contract cessation. I remember the frustration of being nominated ‘second’ for roles on a few occasions, before I landed the right role. And of course, there were those work opportunities I had felt confident about, but then radio silence ensued… I didn’t even receive the courtesy of a call back or “thanks, but no thanks” response. (This is a huge source of angst and frustration for work seekers – I rant about that here!)

A CEO of a not-for-profit organisation in Perth has participated in the CEO Sleepout in Perth, each year, for many years. I don’t believe this person has ever been homeless herself, yet the organisation she leads assists people with housing and other social and mental health issues. The fact that she is willing to put herself into discomfort, raise money and awareness for the cause (and a different charitable organisation to the one she leads) is a testament to the importance of ‘keeping it real’ and listening first-hand to the stories of the people who you are helping.

Getting a clear picture of who you serve, helps greatly in landing your message, so that they can produce their desired results.

Thinking of who you help, helps you…to be able to help them, even more.

2021-02-26T10:03:07+08:00February, 25th 2021|

About the Author:

Lois is a career counsellor, coach and facilitator with over 15 years' experience in leading groups and individuals through the process of career discovery. Consulting to leaders in sport, corporate and for-purpose organisations, she loves nothing more than helping you light a fire and have a passion for your work. Lois is Masters qualified (Career Development), Author of "Make Your Move" and a Churchill Fellowship recipient (2019) for career reinventions after cancer.