By Kay Hannaford
Brunching with Terry, a former colleague, years ago, I mused that I would like to move to Sydney in the next 12 to 18 months. A few weeks later, he phoned to say his sister-in-law had taken a role as head chef at a Sydney restaurant. She requested training for all wait staff and they needed a trainer. Terry recommended me. Soon I was talking with the restaurateur and hired. After flying me to Sydney to train the staff, she recommended me to her husband who ran a different company. They then shared the costs of flying me in regularly, spread the word and within a few months I had enough clients to move to Sydney.
Terry is one of my champions. Those first two Sydney clients were also my champions. Without them and their generosity, I could never have succeeded in building a business in Sydney.
We all have champions. They are the people who support and advocate for us, who promote us and our strengths and skills to others, who recommend us and the work we do and never hesitate if asked to be a sounding board, a referee or provide a testimonial.
They are often the people we trust with our still-forming ideas and with our dreams and aspirations. They are the ones we feel comfortable asking for help or advice and sometimes they may also be the people who will hold up a mirror when necessary to help us deal with road-blocks, get back on track and to grow into the best versions of ourselves.
They are always interested in what we are up to and how we are progressing.
In short, they are our fan club!
When I reflect on my champions, they have all been pivotal in shaping my career and the twists and turns it has taken (and continues to take). These people have had a huge influence in choices I have made, from changing jobs to establishing new client bases in different places, to creating new offerings and challenging me to shift my mindset. They have been unselfish in sharing their own ideas, introducing me to their contacts, their colleagues and their clients, offering me work and singing my praises both privately and publicly.
It’s easy to take these people for granted and forget how important their support and influence has been. So we need to identify who they are, these champions of ours. One way to do this is to reflect on the turning points in our lives and particularly in our careers and look for the people who were there at the time and played a role in the choices we made, either by asking the right questions, offering fresh ideas and options, shoring up our confidence or actually opening doors.
That opens up a great opportunity to think of a way, any way that feels authentic, to thank them or acknowledge the role they have played and how much we have valued their input.
Whether it’s a breakfast of champions, a bunch of flowers, a phone call or an email, do something.
It will undoubtedly make their day!