In the summer of 2020 I was made redundant after working 20 years for the same company, building high-end replica sports cars. I was at a loss, especially given that we were at the start of the pandemic. At that stage, I applied to attend the Men’s Programme not knowing what my future would be.
I was fortunate that I was then approached by my old boss who asked if I’d like to start up a new company doing the same thing, so I bit the bullet and jumped in. I was lucky to leave work and, in the same week, start at the new venture - restoring, servicing and maintaining classic cars. I was put in charge so it was a step up and has been a steep learning curve in the new role, but I’m getting there.
The Men’s Programme has helped me in this process of change.
I have had several light bulb moments – something new comes out in every session.
For example, in one session we were talking about how different people’s brains are wired differently and we have different preferences as to how we process information. My natural tendency is to complete work in a slightly unstructured way – I get the job done but it can be a bit last minute. For those whose brains work according to a plan and structure this can be really frustrating. One of the group was explaining how infuriating his boss was and as he was explaining why, I realised that he could be describing me - so I was probably infuriating my team in a similar way! Now I’m conscious of explaining an instruction and sequencing it correctly to help others work well and to comprehend. I’m now much more mindful of how staff operate and I try to get to know and understand them more.
Another topic covered was the adult/parent/child way of communicating which highlighted the need to notice what state you and another person were in to be most effective. For example, if someone is speaking from an emotive, child state then logical, productive work conversations may not be effective. Likewise, the reverse is true - if I am in the child state, communication may not be successful. It’s good to recognise that we can inhabit any of these three ways of communicating. Being aware of my state at a specific time has really helped, both at work and at home. In my one-to-one sessions with my coach, he was able to cleverly ask questions which helped me focus and think back to my childhood, enabling me to see patterns of behaviour that influence my communication.
The communication session was great – learning that 55% of how we communicate is in our body language.
I am much more mindful when crossing my arms and legs or sitting at my desk behind a barrier of files or on a higher chair. Instead, I sit in front of the desk as an equal with whoever I’m talking to. If only I’d realised that earlier, I would have done some things differently because of the improvement it makes in our communications!
The adventure day was really good – although it was a cold, grey, miserable day, it was good to be outside, learning navigation skills and how to light a fire. The big value was sitting around talking to the others and listening to the leader’s own history as he shared openly his own, deep story about his time in the army in Afghanistan. There was companionship in the woods – a chance to share further together our own challenges and vulnerabilities.
When the programme has finished, we’ll all meet up again as we are going to clear the back yard in The Hexagon and make a garden. I already recommend the programme to others – it’s been good to talk, connect and learn. I feel more able to do my job and have been helped in the transitions I have had to make.