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?
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?