Being nominated for and winning the 2016 comms2point0 lifetime achievement unaward for services to communications made me immensely proud.

Special thanks to Kate Bentham for nominating me and being a top campaign manager – we did alright for a couple of introverts.

I’m honoured to have been thought of in the same company as previous winners of this special award; Fran and Sarah, who recently penned her thoughts on what winning the 2015 award meant to her.

Sarah’s post rightly talks about how recognition of our work is an opportunity for reflecting; both on how we got here, on work yet to do and how our experience might be used for the greater good.

I’m increasingly realising it’s not always about what is achieved but about how we are with other people – the softer skills. That’s perhaps something forgotten in comms and marketing professional development programmes but something for increasing focus.

The following are some things I’ve worked out over my ‘lifetime’ as worth investing time and effort in. You might not see or have experienced some of these things in your careers yet but you probably will.

  • It isn’t always about bigger, faster, louder, shinier or being first across a finishing line – the people stuff; values, honesty, integrity, respect, manners, listening and forming and maintaining relationships are really important.
  • Consideration of how your actions are likely to make people feel will help you succeed in communications and in life.
  • You won’t please all of the people all of the time but an honest explanation goes a long way. Timely explanation of ‘why not’ is just as important as ‘why’.
  • Make an effort to listen to and acknowledge different opinions. Look outside or regularly adjust your bubble.
  • Listen to the quiet people. Introverts have just as much to give as extroverts.
  • Your career progression will sometimes stall and you will need to nudge it along or reinvent yourself. Be patient and positive, development isn’t just about your chosen career path. You will need other skills too. Consider volunteering. I learnt more about working with people and leading by being a school governor, chair of governors and captain of a golf club than any webinar, book or on the job training could ever teach me. Those skills are transferable.
  • Have something on the horizon that will take you outside your comfort zone.
  • If you can’t say something constructive keep it zipped until you can.
  • Be gracious in success (and defeat), acknowledge other’s contributions too.
  • Saying thank you means a lot.
  • It isn’t selling yourself short or a lack of ambition to admit you don’t want to be number one. Good leaders are better leaders because of good people around them.
  • Share your learning and your struggles. Knowledge and experience shouldn’t be power over others.
  • It isn’t ‘failing’ to ask for help. Look out for and support others when they might be struggling.
  • Consider mentoring or coaching. You’ll find it not only helps others but will challenge and nudge your own thinking and development.

You’d expect someone with a lifetime achievement award to be longish in the tooth and that’s fair. Just remember, age brings experience; good and bad and we learn from both.

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