Life is about the people you meet …

You may remember the Holstee Manifesto and its focus on making the most of life. There’s a man I know who truly seems to understand this notion: his name is Mike Whitaker and he drives a bus in Bath. Mike unfailingly delivers excellent customer service, bringing a smile to the faces of even the weariest passengers. It appears that nothing is too much trouble for him and I cannot help but be impressed by his commitment to his job. It seems I’m not the only one to be impressed by Mike: over the years, he has been featured in   The Bath Chronicle’s ‘101 people to make Bath proud’, received a ‘Courtesy Crusade’ award from another publication and been nominated for a First Group ‘Superstar’ award.

I wanted to know more so I met up with him over coffee to discover the secret of his success.

Mike, you seem to love your job: what is it that you love about it?

By and large, at the start of the day, I’m taking people to where they don’t want to go, and at the end, I’m bringing them back from where they didn’t want to be! So with a friendly greeting, a smile and a willingness to take a genuine interest in life’s troubles, or the problems of their day, I can change people’s perceptions of their day, their circumstances and sometimes themselves. I’m told I frequently do. If I can send someone away with a smile on their face and feeling better about themselves, that’s a great reason to get up and go to work!

I believe you’ve had other careers before you became a driver. What’s different about this role?

I trained as a teacher and I’ve been an NVQ Assessor. I’ve spent all of my working life in Customer Service or Public Relations and this is the most consistently satisfying job I’ve had. I get a great mix of ‘regulars’ and visitors to Bath. I meet, oh, two or three thousand people a week – all those chances to make a positive difference and getting paid for it!

But why bus driving?

Years ago, I took a hard look at my life and decided to change it: working to live, instead of living to work. It meant a huge drop in pay and my friends thought I was mad at the time, but you have to go with your instincts. It seemed that the higher I might have gone in my PR career, the further I would have gone away from what’s really important to me: customers. Where else can I meet and have a positive effect on so many people of such varying backgrounds?

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer?

Treat everyone the way you wish to be treated yourself at all times, come what may.

And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?

I came across a Chinese proverb once which, loosely translated, says: ‘Find a job you love and stick with it and you’ll never work again.’

So that’s Mike’s take on making a difference through his work.

Today’s pebble for you to consider: 

How can you make a difference through your role, whether that’s at work or at home?

Any thoughts?

Thanks

Michelle

Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?

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14 Responses to Life is about the people you meet …

  1. R says:

    Thanks for this great post – I do try to echo Mike’s advice to “treat everyone the way you wish to be treated yourself at all times, come what may” but sometimes it’s difficult to stick to when life gets on top of you. I’m definitely going to make more of an effort to follow this in the future :o)

    Also by taking the time to speak to Mike not only have you given your “pebbleites” something to think about, but I’m sure he feels very proud and pleased to know he’s so appreciated too.

    This has certainly made my day better already, thank you!

  2. Sam M-V says:

    I’ve just met mike, and what a great man to have in the day! He had such a great smile and seemed to be so happy in life.

    So often when I get a bus I meet people that are grumpy and I don’t really think about it later through the day but meeting mike and just having a brief conversation has made me feel that bit happier!

    What a great interview and inspirational take on life.

  3. Kay Galloway says:

    I have known Mike for several years, and frequently find myself rushing to ensure that I catch his bus because it is such a pleasant experience. He is called ‘Mr Happy’ by those who do not know him. Mike is consistently friendly, helpful and upbeat and if there were more Mike’s in the world what a lovely place it would be to inhabit.

  4. Jacky Cook says:

    I met Mike a few months ago on my way to university. He changed my entire mood that first morning and I always enjoy seeing him on my way to class.
    Mike told me about your website this morning and I loved the title of this entry.
    I personally do not know how Mike remains so consistently pleasant. I am personally known for being happy and polite yet I often have an off day. Mike never seems to suffer from this. I’m quite envious of his tenacity in truth 🙂

  5. Simon says:

    I was in Bath yesterday on business and I happened to jump on Mike’s bus. Never in my 42 years have I ever seen such a happy bus driver. So much so that it made to stop to ask him why he was so happy……..and he told me about this site. What a special man. I think the lesson for me is that if you convey happiness to others, through a positive attitude, it can really help with your happiness on the inside. Mike made my day and and reminded me that the core of humanity is intrinsically good.

    Simon A.

  6. Pete T says:

    As an Aussie tourist visiting Bath and whilst in the specialty tea room in Bath I had the absolute pleasure in meeting Mike whilst he was on a break. We had a wonderful conversation and his zest and enthusiasm for life is contagious. Why can’t more people in the world get back to basics??? Ironically when my wife and I left Bath in our hire car that day the last bus we saw had Mike at the wheel……still smiling. You are certainly one of Baths true ambassadors.

  7. Jake Babb says:

    Mike is what I would describe as a beacon of light – A bright bulb who lights up the room with his smile and his warm and friendly demeanour. Getting to know Mike over the past year has been an absolute pleasure. He is a shining example of what it means to be wildly happy and how to contribute beyond yourself for the good of those around you.

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