Thursday, November 20, 2008

Four People Who Have Inspired Me

I've probably been influenced in my career by hundreds of people. I've narrowed it down to four people who have influenced me more than most - these four are outstanding.

Firstly my very first boss when I was 16 years of age and going into the big world of employment for the first time. Mr Spittlehouse (what a great name) was the boss of the local hospital and he taught me the importance of the basics. I would probably see him now as a bit obsessional about detail but I also realise how important that was for me in my formative years at work. Sadly Mr Spittlehouse died a few years ago but his impact on my career still resonates.

Secondly Dr Chakraborti who was the Doctor in charge of the learning disability service I worked in about 30 years ago. He was a real fighter for his clients i.e. people with a learning disability and their families. I was so proud to work with Dr Chakraborti. It was he who gave me a motto about learning disability services that I've tried to follow in all my work since - "Spend time with people with learning disability and always keep an open mind" - It works for me

Thirdly Dr Phil Shute who was my own Family Doctor (General Practitioner) and a colleague in my NHS career in Devon. Phil and I were the joint drivers of an amazing 3 year project in the mid 1990's aimed at improving services for people who lived in a very deprived part of Devon. He was an inspiration in so many ways. His clarity of thought, his total dedication and his passion for the patient was something I've not experienced before or since.

Fourthy Professor George Giarchi about whom I have written before on this Blog. George is truly amazing. He is now approaching 80 years of age and still works for the University of Plymouth as Professor of Social Care. He remains my 'life supervisor.' George was my academic supervisor in 1996-98 when I did my MA Management (Health Care). I got to know George well and his knowledge, humility and integrity are second to none in my entire career.

I would love to hear about a few of the folks who may have influenced you.


David Wike said...

Firstly Trevor, nobody can be called Mr Spittelhouse can they? And isn’t that a sign of the time – you called your boss Mr Whatever. Now, in most organisations first names would be used. One US influence that I like (there aren’t many!).

Secondly, despite what you say, his influence on you wasn’t that great – it certainly didn’t include obsession for detail (including in this post)!

For me there have been quite a few that have had an influence, but I will select just one. Coincidentally he works now at Plymouth University also. Steve gave us responsibility but always made a note of the tasks delegated. After a few days we would get called in to tell him how we were getting on with them. Nothing escaped him, he monitored everything. But he also built our confidence and told us how important we were to the organisation.

We also learned very quickly not to go to him with a problem. If we did we were sent away to come up with some proposed solutions. Then we could go to him and talk through the options with him and get his guidance. And one other characteristic about him was so different from many managers that I have encountered. He rarely worked late and he took all of his holiday entitlement. He didn’t try to be a macho manager.

It is 25 or more years since I worked for Steve but nobody since has had the same impact on me.

Richard Lipscombe said...

Hi Trevor... This is a great idea - to pay homage to people who helped me to become who I am.

My grandmother Nan who gave me "unconditional love".

My brother Peter who is five years old than me yet he included me in his Tribe, as an equal, and we had such good times together. He taught me that one should take a life time to become an adult.

My brilliant football coach who gave me and my team mates a premiership and an undefeated season. He taught us all to be winners. He modeled being a winner - he was humble, tenacious, reassuring, and a football genius. Half time in the sheds, often in the season, we were being flogged on the ground and the scoreboard. In a soft tone I will never forget I can still hear Lionel James say "you are the best team out there, you have been sloppy and so allowed them to play their very best football out there that half and that is why they are winning - we need to tighten up and do this, this, and this... So let's go have some fun and let us begin to play some really good footy"... We won and we won and we won... We became a team of winners.

Peter Carter was a professional at the golf course I lived on (yeah it is hare to believe I literally lived in a three story mansion which doubled as the clubhouse when I was 15 years old). I would come home from school - Carter would take me down to the 10th Tee or the practice tee and help me with my swing as I hit buckets of balls. Then he would send me off to the 9th Green to chip and putt, chip and putt until I could no longer see the pin because it was dark. Carter was encoding golfing ability into my body and he was building my mindset into something that resembled a steel trap. To play golf for money you have to love to practice and love to overcome the setback/pain/anger/failure that accompanies your last (poor) shot.

Digby Pridmore the head of computing studies when I was an undergraduate. He inspired me to life long learning. He taught me to challenge, vigorously, everything I think I know about a topic. He taught me to never allow academic conventions, or thinking, to put a cage around my imagination.

My two sons Albert and Gerrard who taught me to be their father. They taught me to be totally open, honest, forgiving, and to accept my designated role as the "court jester" in our family.

My young son Gerrard who has taught me and our whole family that there are some very special people in the world. They are what many called "gifted". In Gerrard's case he is a good scholar, leader, sports(man), and a caring person. I have learned the secret of his success - he has an extraordinary ability to "focus".

I am not a credit to these people nor a reflection of their greatness BUT I am all the better for having had them in my life...

Thanks Trevor for reminding me of the debt I owe all my life long heroes....

Trevor Gay said...

Hi David

Yes it was indeed Mr Spittlehouse and in 1969 it was not at all acceptable to call him anything else – apart from perhaps ‘Sir’. I agree times have changed for the better in that respect and by the way EVEN YOU make the occasional mistake of lack of attention to detail such as the spelling mistake you made …. Its Spittlehouse not Spittlehouse :-)

Steve sounds like my kind of manager.

I once worked with a manager who had a great reply when someone came to her and said – “We have a problem.” – Her immediate response was …. “Hold on … now let’s first of all establish WHO PRECISELY has this problem?”

Trevor Gay said...

Fabulous stories Richard – thank you so much.

I've no doubt whatsoever that there are a good many people who believe you have equally influenced them.

I suspect it is good for the soul now and again for us all to reflect about who influenced us. We are shaped by many influences. It is brilliant to hear your 'homage' to these great folks in your life and I thank you again for sharing them.

In the posting I mentioned people who influenced me in my career – the greatest influences in my life was without a doubt my late beloved Dad who died suddenly 14 years ago and I miss him daily.

My wife Annie and my two Grandsons Sebastian and Reece are the greatest current influences on my life without question and, of course, God.

David Wike said...

Paraphrasing Eric Morecambe, I had all the right letters but not necessarily in the right order! I confess that I had difficulty spotting my mistake from your correction, but I’m sure that the deliberate error was just to make me look harder!

I ran a business enterprise day for Year 12 (16/17 years old) business studies students at a Birmingham school last week. I have never been called ‘sir’ so many times in my life! They blew away totally the negative stereotype of our inner-city schools. A more enthusiastic and polite bunch of students it would be hard to find. From the teachers that I have met on my various visits to the school, from the head downwards, they have very good role models. I am sure that they must have the right influences at home as well. A great day with some wonderful young people.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi David - On this one occasion only I will forgive you for failing to meet your normal standards of spelling and grammar just as long as you promise to be pay more attention to detail in future :-)

Great story about the young people and actually I'm not surprised. I was a school governor in Torquay for 5 years at a school in a very deprived part of the town. The kids there were terrific in terms of their respect for teachers and visitors. The head teacher always told me how proud he was of that quality even if the academic results were not top notch. In other, more prestigious schools in Torquay, that respect was not always evident apparently.

I have great faith in young people from whatever social background.

Kids may only be 15% of our population but they are 100% of our future.

The message is never believe stereotypes presented by the media - especially the Daily Mail!

Anonymous said...

I have been blessed to have many folks who have inspired me and impacted my life in a very meaningful way. Number one however would be my daughter Whitney. Strong, determined, focused. Completed nursing achool and passed Nursing Boards while receiving radiation and chemotherapy treatments for lymphoma. She is now a Nurse Oncologist, a specialty she choose after her diagnosis, working with children with cancer. Never a single complaint, never a missed day of work or school. The list could go on forver but I sure have learned a great deal from her as she has dealt with the challenge's life has thrown her way.

There is ALSO this guy I know in the U.K....ditched his job, started his own business, wrote a book or several and now is training for a marathon among many other gotta be inspired by that!

Trevor Gay said...

Dave - Whitney is also an inspiration to me over here you and we continue to include her in our prayers every day. Our families provide most inspiration of all of course.

As for ‘the guy in the UK’ I assure you the respect is entirely mutual Mr Wheeler!

JOHN O'LEARY said...

GREAT question, Trevor! For business or personal effectiveness: Tom Peters, Peter Senge, Werner Erhard, and Harry Palmer have had the biggest influence on me. For musical inspiration: Lennon & McCartney (though I had no personal contact with them). For health/well being: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (who taught me transcendental meditation) and Michio Kushi (who introduced me to macrobiotics as a way of life).

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks John – fascinating list – I kind of expected to see Lennon, McCartney and Tom Peters and thanks for the education on transcendental medication and macrobiotics.

Marilyn Jess said...

Hi Trevor,

What a great post for Thanksgiving week here in the USA. Here are three important people in my life.

Paula Prideaux was my manager for 2 years in state government. She saw the talent in me, even when I didn't, and trusted me. Even when I told her I was looking to move away, she assigned me three difficult projects, over a period of three months, and that motivated me to reach far beyond my comfort zone to complete them.

Audrey Spindler was my professor, then my advisor, and is now my friend. When I asked to do an untraditional graduate thesis, she supported me 100%, and used her connections to get me a better advisor. She could have said no, a nutrition student can't work in the film department. I was the first.

Jackie Bochenek hired me as the first intern to work in her department at a large hospital. Because she was willing to risk hiring me, others followed me and were able to get valuable work experience and credentials. Jackie was the best at giving feedback (even less than pleasant news) to staff. You never felt like less, even if you really needed to improve.

There are more, but these three deserve mention here.

Trevor Gay said...

Fabulous stories Marilyn - thanks for sharing. All these folks had faith in you and helped you along your journey. The sign of a true mentor!

Well done to you as well for taking on board their wisdom and support - it was clearly well placed.

Anonymous said...

My Mum and Dad.

My first boss: years before the quality revolution he espoused the whole quality, right first time, respect all your co-workers thing that we still seem to struggle with.

Richard Dawkins: for overcoming cancer, for showing you can be a scientist and an artist, for being a humanist and for proving there is no God.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mark - thanks for sharing those people who have inspired you.

Clearly Richard Dawkins is a very interesting and very brave man. I didn't know he had beaten Cancer - that is fantastic to hear. Cancer is such a killer and it is great when we hear good outcomes.

I didn't know he had 'proved' there is no God.

One question to Mr Dawkins; HOW has he 'proved' there is no God and to whom ?

Anonymous said...

You're quite right, Trevor, he hasn't proved it. In exactly the same way that you can't prove he / she / it exists, of course!

Trevor Gay said...

Absolutely Mark.

As an individual, in my heart, I have all the ‘proof’ I need that God exists.

I never try to change other people’s opinions because as a Christian I believe God gives us all the freedom to choose. I’ve made my choice and Mr Dawkins has made his. We disagree.

Nicky Gumbel writing in his book ‘Searching Issues’ says:

“Science and religion have always been compatible. It is a well established fact that for much of history Christianity and scientific study have been allies and not opponents. Many of the great scientists in history believed in God – indeed most were theological writers. The list includes Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Faraday, Boyle, Lister, and Pasteur – the list goes on.”

For me Mark the following words of Albert Einstein (he was a pretty smart scientist. I’m sure Mr Dawkins will agree) are very powerful:

“Unfortunately for the scientifically minded, God is not discoverable or demonstrable by purely scientific means. But that really proves nothing; it simply means that the wrong instruments are being used for the job”