What a night

Last night I was working on the audio description team for my local football team Plymouth Argyle, as they won their Football League 2 playoff semi-final against Portsmouth, to win a place in the final at Wembley on May 30th. After commentating on the team through years of downfall from the Championship to League 2 it was great to finally have a night of success at our ground Home Park.

It has been twenty years since we were last at Wembley and our fans are dreaming of Wembley success again this year. Very rarely is our home ground a sellout for a game and that is a shame, as it is always such a great atmosphere when it is.

I was there

The game last night wasn’t a classic by any stretch, but that didn’t matter in a way. When that final whistle blew nobody cared about how good the game was, everyone was just rejoicing and joining together in a proud moment for the team, the fans and the city. It was a night that will be looked back on in years to come, where everyone there will be able to say I was there that night Argyle won their way to Wembley.

It’s the collective experience that makes football I think. A ton of fans, in one space, living through the emotions of the game, for one common cause. People may not have known the people sat around them last night, but they joined in together cheering the team on and I am sure although they might not have got their names, they will remember their faces in their minds when they look back on this day.

Something that isn’t tangible

When so many people in one space are happy, you can just feel something, something that isn’t tangible but it is there. A feel good feeling just goes right through you and for a moment all of the worries in life don’t exist and you are allowed a moment of pure jubilation.

I am hoping beyond any hope that we win at Wembley but whatever happens nobody will be able to take last night and its place in history away. Thanks to the players and everyone who attended last night’s game, you made the experience. Through all of us we all have a reason to be happy and optimistic today, last night something was accomplished that will hopefully lead to greater things for the players, fans and city.

Another year older

So this year I turned the age of 32. With every year that passes I always seem to look back and say to myself “that last year was crazy.” Last year I became a dad and that has made it the most life-changing year of my life! In previous years I have got married, travelled to places across the globe, written books, won awards, accomplished many great things etc. And in there own way they have been crazy years too.

I like to use my time on this earth wisely and do the best I can with it. That is why I know I have a lot of crazy years ahead of me. It is also my outlook on life as well that makes them crazy years. I choose to celebrate the great things and try not to dwell on the not so good. I appreciate every year and every opportunity I get. Every year I try and make sure I try new things, accept new challenges and put myself in the way of opportunity.

Amplifying experiences

The great thing about my years now, is the people I have chosen to do life with. Every good experience means more and is amplified; every accomplishment is backed by people that are so proud of me. I am surrounded by people who want to see me succeed and who go out of their way for me.

My years will always have lows and sad times but I all I can do is control how I react to those and by reacting well to them, I know that positive times will always follow them. My birthday isn’t about getting older to me. It’s about looking back on my experiences and looking forward to more that will come. I just can’t wait to see what I will be looking back on at my next birthday, as I can only see great things in my future.

A great celebration

My birthday this year was a lovely day thanks to my amazing wife who made it a great celebration. Life and experience should be celebrated. My birthday was a great day to catapult my in to the new year with. I have got no clue how far I will go or where I will land but I know the journey is going to be a fun one.

I’m a Eurovision fan and I don’t care

For many years there seems to have been a stigma around the people who look forward to and enjoy watching Eurovision. Some people seem to look down their nose at others who enjoy this annual cultural phenomenon. Watching Eurovision seems to be beneath some people and many people think it is embarrassing.

I think by not getting over themselves, many people are missing out on a fun night of TV entertainment and that is what the Eurovision is.

I do not watch Eurovision for the following things:

Quality music
Fair voting
Expecting the UK to win

I watch it for these things:

Entertainment
Comedy
To banter on twitter about it

I feel sorry for those countries that aren’t able to watch Eurovision on TV, although I was surprised by the number of countries who aren’t represented at Eurovision, but who still watch it. I love TV programmes, especially live events, when you know lots of people in the country are watching at the same time as you, it breeds a shared experience feeling and this is when I think TV is at its best.

An extravaganza

The Eurovision is a spectacular TV event with some amazingly high production values. The staging, lighting and presentation are impeccable. These are the reasons to me why it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. To me it’s not a competition, it’s entertainment and who wins isn’t important. I love seeing what acts other countries have sent to the competition and what people are saying about them, the more random the act, the more I enjoy it.

I never feel patriotic during the event, probably got something to do with knowing the UK will never win but I do feel proud of the diverseness of the Eurovision zone. Yes the Eurovision has it’s own area, as not all entries are from Europe as it is normally defined.

Our way of doing it

The UK may never win the competition, but I think we must win the best presentation of the event, which to me is the most important thing. Graham Norton’s commentary throughout the event is priceless and always has me in stitches, as did his predecessor Terry Wogan. The UK sense of humour coupled with the Eurovision is a winning combination.

The Eurovision is on my list of events that I would love to go to at some point in my life, so I hope that one year I do get to witness it live, as when watching at home it seems like such a fun party atmosphere in the arena. For now though I will settle for drinking games, house parties and twitter on my phone to enjoy the event with.

Offering your skills and being empowered

This year I started with a plan to change my world and to invest in what I can offer to the world. One of the ways I have done this is by helping run social media for my church, Saltash Baptist in the South West of England.

Although I have no formal training or experience outside of running my own social media feeds, it is something I have a passion for and think I have a natural gift for. Social media is something that intrigues me greatly, I am always reading up on latest trends in the social media world and how it is evolving, as well as experimenting with my own personal output.

Passion

I have been eager to use this passion to help the church for some time, so a little while back I plucked up the courage and asked the Minister if I could help with the social media side of things at the church. He was very receptive of my offer and we arranged a meeting, from that meeting we made plans and he empowered me to run with the passion I had.

Social media is a platform where churches and Christians can engage with their communities in a very quick and effective way. Church leaders have many important tasks on a day-to-day basis to complete and it can be hard to juggle social media as well, which can by itself quite easily consume your life. This is why I think it is important for people within churches that have a passion for it to offer support. With the amount of time we all invest in our personal social media use, I’m sure most of us could give some time to help an organisation like a church.

Reach

To reach the under 40’s generation social media is important and is worth investing the time in as a church. An online representation of a Church can be the reason why someone new comes to a church on Sunday. When my wife and I moved to a new area we went online to search for the churches in the area and drew up a shortlist to go to by what we saw online.

So to get back to the title of this blog, I think it is very important to not just sit on the skills we have but to find a way to use them. I believe we have all been given our skills for a reason and that there is a way for everyone to use them. I offered my skills and because of it I am now getting to use them in a fantastic way. Every week I am gaining experience and learning even more, whilst engaging with so many more people in my local community. I am learning how to write for social media on behalf of an organisation and being able to do creative things that I wouldn’t of had the chance to do on my own social media feeds.

Empowerment

If someone comes to you offering their skills, services or time and you think they are the right person for the job, you need to empower them. There is nothing like feeling empowered or empowering someone else. Help these people to make the most of their skills and to feel great about using them. Empowering people is the only way we are going to get more people being brave enough or willing enough to give up their skills, services or time to better themselves and your organisation.

I believe people are this world’s greatest resource so lets use them and lets help them shine.

My Future is Unlimited

Last weekend my wife and I spent a lovely weekend in London. As part of the trip on the Friday night we went to see the hit musical Wicked at the Apollo theatre. It was such an amazing night and an experience that I don’t think I will forget in a hurry. I love theatre and musicals, but have only seen less than a handful in the flesh at various theatres in the UK and the USA.

On the tube ride back to our hotel after the show it really struck me how privileged we were to be able to go and experience something like that. There is something truly special about going to a big musical in London but it is something not everyone can do. If you don’t live in London, the cost of transport, a hotel and a ticket can be quite high and quite difficult to arrange. Thankfully for us the tickets were presents so it wasn’t as expensive but it was still a privilege to have been afforded the opportunity to go.

The most important performance

One thing I really like about musicals is how even though for many of the performers it will be their 100th, 300th, 1000th time of performing in their role, for us the audience they make it feel like it is the most important performance and just like the first time they played their part. Because of how well the show is put together you get sucked in to the world of the story and it’s not until afterwards you start to think about the mechanics of it all.

For those two and a half hours we were there, the rest of the world and its problems didn’t exist, the phones went off and we willingly entered the world of Wicked the Musical. We sat there in awe as the stars belted out powerful vocal performances and acted their parts fantastically well. The stars made everything seem so easy and got me wishing I could sing and perform like they could. Experiencing the hit song from the show “Defying Gravity” was such an amazing thing and something I can now cross off my bucket list.

Like any other job

Performing in a big West End Musical (Yes I know the Apollo isn’t technically the West End!) is a highly coveted thing to do and for which I am sure the competition is fierce. I decided on the way home to look at it a bit differently though; I started to ponder a few things, after you have done the performance so many times does it lose its magic for the performers? Does it just turn in to the equivalent of working in an office? Does doing 8 performances a week with no sick days or holiday take it’s toll? I’m sure for most the sacrifices are worth the position they have but I think as an audience we sometimes look at them through tinted glasses.

The power to inspire

The next night whilst we were in London I looked down at my watch and noticed the time has just passed 7.30pm and said someone else is getting that same amazing experience we had last night right now. What I love above musicals is that the same story and same performance can inspire, captivate and encourage a new audience every night.

I don’t think there are many people who don’t come out feeling happy after seeing a musical. When I walked out I felt I could achieve more and that I could use that experience to improve myself. I came out of the theatre knowing I had just seen something amazing and I’m sure I will be singing the songs from it for weeks and months to come.

I want to end this blog with my favourite line from one of the songs from Wicked “My future is unlimited” and I truly believe that.

You succeed when you help others succeed

One thing I can’t stand in life, is when I see people who are deliberately trying to stop other people from succeeding. If you work for a company or as part of a team, at some point or another to achieve success you are going to need the support of others to succeed. Sadly, in most endeavours it’s not just about what you do and how you act that will determine how successful you are.

To get ahead and stay ahead it seems that most opt to try and keep others down and go out of their way to make sure that others don’t succeed. This can be done in many ways, from not supporting someone, not sharing information with them, keeping ideas to yourself, criticising them and talking badly about them to others.

Dismissive People

The problem with people who act in these ways is that they think they are better than others, but they don’t know if they truly are or not. These types of people don’t look objectionably at someone or their work; they just dismiss them and their work. Most of the time this will be before even looking at what they have done as they have already decided they are going to try and find holes in it.

If people stopped to help others and talk with them, not only would they help them but I think they would learn a thing or two, which will help them succeed in the long-term. By stopping others from succeeding you are just getting in your own way. The people around you can have lots of experience and ideas that you can benefit from, they are a resource so lets be sure to use them.

You will learn more from others around you in life than you will from most other sources. Sharing their ideas, energy and enthusiasm can help you achieve so much in and out of work. Other people will help you think in different ways and share experiences that you may never have yourself, but if you all do is criticise them they will probably be reluctant to share all these things with you.

Invest Your Time Wisely

If people invested more of their time in helping others and themselves than they did in criticising and stopping others then they could be even more successful than they ever thought possible. People think stopping others succeeding is a sign of strength but I think it’s the biggest sign of weakness.

If all you do is constantly criticise then with every word of criticism that comes from your mouth the less impact it will have. If this is all you do, people will soon stop listening to you and you might as well just be talking to yourself.

Thinking of Others

Are you willing to put the success of a project or a company above your own issues and problems? I think most people in a professional sphere are judged by the projects they have been involved in and most companies are looking for people who put the good of the team before themselves. So just from an employability standpoint alone, it makes sense to help others working on the same project as you succeed, because if they succeed hopefully the project that has your name attached to it will.

If I ran a company I would want each and every one of my staff to succeed, because I know if they were succeeding my company would succeed with them, as success breeds success.

I think if you are in a position of power it is important to make sure that you discern who around you is trying to succeed and do all you can to help them. It is also important to discern when criticism levelled at people is unjust criticism and do all you can to help and support those involved, from the one doing the criticising to the one on the other end of it.

Getting Ahead

Never forget when whilst you are criticising someone, someone else somewhere is investing that time in learning more, gaining more skills and improving themselves. I know what I would much prefer to be doing. I’ve never seen a job advertised with criticism in the title or criticism of others being a required skill.

People who just criticised never changed the world but people who were brave enough to do things and try things did. Lets not let this be a race to the bottom with whoever can bury someone the deepest winning, lets make this a race to the moon.

You don’t have enough experience

Ever been put off applying for a job because you didn’t have enough experience? Ever been turned down for a job because they didn’t think you had enough experience? Then you will probably be in that frustrating place where nearly all of us find ourselves at some point in life, asking yourself the question “How am I going to get experience if no one will give it to me?” It’s like the ultimate chicken and egg situation in life.

I think so many companies across the world are being very short-term in their thinking with this approach. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice and reassuring to hire someone with experience but should the want for experience be put above ability, qualifications and someone’s character?

If I were employing staff I would be looking for people with the right attitude that can prove they can work hard and are teachable. In a company you need people who are going to work well with your current staff, people that are quick at picking things up and people that are willing to go that extra mile for the company. Someone’s experience tells you nothing about their ability to do these things.

If you hire someone based on their experience are they the type of person that thinks they know best? No two companies behave in exactly the same way so is this person with experience going to be able to fit in? Do they see the opportunity in your company as a chance to gain more experience in order to move on to something else? Does this experienced person not want to learn any more and just trade off their current experience? These are all questions you need to be asking yourself when hiring.

The word potential seems to come below experience when it comes to hiring people. A nice way of saying no to people who don’t get jobs always seems to be “you have potential.” The thing is however somebody with potential will always have the chance to achieve more than someone with experience, so if you are looking for long term success as a company you need to start giving more time to those people who truly have a lot of potential.

If you have a job interview for a job that you don’t have the required levels of experience for, remember to sell your potential, your work rate, how teachable you are and how good you are at working with people. Extenuate your positives and hide what companies perceive as negatives, get the focus off what you haven’t got and get it on what you could do for the company.