I’ve met a lot of great people who have helped shape me both consciously and subconsciously. My grandfather taught me the value of being informed and educated as well as having a good laugh. This might explain my initial interest in learning (anything and everything), as well as why I gravitated toward my high school and uni friends – they were fun / funny people and we made a ton of hilarious memories which we still reminisce on. I’ve worked alongside both great and awful employees, seen employers make both excellent and terrible decisions, met some talented and creative kids during my time as a teacher and learned a lot in the process.
There are two particularly remarkable people who I have crossed paths with in my working life. They have shaped my attitude toward both work and people profoundly. The first is a man one year younger than myself, who I met while working on a fig farm in 2013. Most of the other workers had terrible attitudes, they dragged their feet, purposefully wasted time and generally did not give a damn. Not about the work, the boss, the product or themselves. On the other hand, this guy worked hard and fast without exception. He took pride in doing the job well and no matter how hard I tried, I could not catch him. While I improved considerably over time, there was never any question who could pick better and faster. One of my best working memories was the day we stayed back and worked a 10 or 11 hour day during the sweltering summer heat. I believe this is what an ideal employee looks like. He inspired me to do better, has a positive attitude towards work, showed great respect toward the people we worked for and has the integrity to not look for the path of least resistance, but actually do the hard work and be productive, fast and efficient about it. I approach my work with those shared values in mind. I learned a great deal about perseverance and thoroughly enjoyed working with him, particularly the long day of back breaking, feet callousing fig picking.
The second remarkable person is a teacher only a year or two older than myself. Her classroom was next door to my internship class (though I continued working at the school for 15 months after my internship ended). My first impression of her before I started was not great for a variety of reasons that I wont get into, but which never resurfaced (and were ultimately pretty insignificant). Within two or three days of actually starting however, she was my favourite colleague by a mile. While I had no personal issues with any of the other teachers, she was someone you could not help but like. Everyday she radiated energy, enthusiasm and positivity that she somehow managed to keep dialled in right above infectious to everyone around her, yet below annoying, fake or over the top. Even more incredibly to me, she did not engage in the stereotypical behaviour of repeating the same meaningless or placating phrases. This was no façade – it was who she was. A little exaggerated, yet entirely genuine. Her proliferation of positivity rarely faltered, enduring a broken arm and a storm damaged home among other things. All I could think whenever I spoke with her was how important it is that I find work (or at least a side project or hobby), that I feel one tenth as excited and satisfied with as she does teaching. I realised that I need to develop character – be more positive, smile, talk with others more and if possible, radiate some of the same spark she did. This was not possible for me while teaching, but I have high hopes going forward in my future work and personal endeavours.
I could write many pages about what I have learned in my experiences with interesting people who have been or are in my life, these are just the two standouts.