Positive influences – It starts at home

This post is somewhat of an extension to Surround yourself with people that challenge you to grow.  Surrounding yourself with the right people is not especially challenging if you are motivated enough and have the courage to distance yourself from the people who bring you down.

However, over the last week, I have encountered several cases where the above is not really an option. That is, by having parents that are poor influences. Again, I am relying on my experiences at work where I have high-volume customer contact.

Example 1 relates to two separate cases where I was approached by an adult and a child. My role on the night was to advise that the trains weren’t running due to track maintenance and to provide them with options for Rail Bus travel. An inconvenience but not the end of the world. In both situations, I was in the middle of discussing the correct bus when the ‘adult’ turned away from me angrily and stated variations of ‘F**k off, you guys are hopeless’.

I’m big enough, old enough and ugly enough to let abuse roll off me. I all but forget the interaction immediately and move onto the next customer with a smile. However, how does this influence the child? They absorb that aggression and verbal abuse are the manner to interact with people when things don’t go their way.

Example 2 relates to a middle-aged woman who was visibly shivering on a platform. It was only slightly chilly, so I approached her to see if she was ok and if she needed an ambulance. Her son (so I found out later) pipped up to say she was ok and that she just had a ‘dirty shot’.

The son was in his early 20’s, barefoot and his clothes were clearly dirty. I will note also he was smoking on the platform in the middle of customers and I had to tell him to put the cigarette out as it was illegal.

I contacted my manager for advice. I found out that both the mother and son were well-known to police, with extension drug histories, aggressive behaviour towards customers and staff and never paid for tickets.

Again, what hope did this kid have to grow up to be a positive contributor to society? His main influence was an antisocial drug addict mother.

I’m sure there are countless examples of people with poor influences who have grown to be beautiful people and achieved amazing things. However, I will bet that the majority of children that grow up with poor parenting influences follow a very similar path.

For a number of reasons, I never became a parent. But surely when you have a child, the world becomes more than just you. Children are sponges and on the whole, look up to their parents.

Maybe if you can’t create a positive environment for your children, parenting might not be for you. How do you want your child to grow up? Think about what you say and do.


Do what you love. Not always a good thing.

One of the constants in my adult life has been going to the gym. At a minimum I attend the gym 4 days a week and have done so for 30+ years. It has become such an important part of my life that when I move house, I make sure I buy near a gym. I love how I feel after a workout, I love the noise of clanking weights, I love the feel of iron in my hands, I love challenging my body, I even love the smell of the gym. I just love going to the gym.

In my early 40’s, I was having a bit of a career crisis. I was really going through tIMG_3741he motions in my job. The only job satisfaction I had was when my pay went into my account. I needed a change.

I came across an advertisement promoting a fitness trainer course. I could undertake the course after my day job and after 6 months I could be a certified Fitness Trainer. I loved going to gym, so surely this would be the perfect career fit for me.

I signed up and started the course with nervous excitement. I loved it. I learned a lot of the more technical aspects of fitness training and physiology in addition to improving my repartre of workout methods. I was also surrounded with like-minded fit and healthy people.

One completion of the course, I very quickly secured a job as a Personal Trainer with a private studio. This was the dream! I would have one-on-one sessions with clients and be involved in changing their bodies and lives.

Though I continued to maintain my full-time work, I was able to train clients before and after work. The studio would allocate me clients, so I immediately had a client base to work with. I utilised my free time to create individualised training programs to meet the goals of my clients. I would also find time to fit in my own workouts along the way. I was busy but having fun!

Move forward 6 months. I was getting up at 4:30AM, train clients, go to my day job, do my own workout at lunch, then go to the studio after work to train clients until 8:30PM. I normally a client or two on Saturday and then had Sunday off. I was tired.

Being tired wasn’t the problem though. The problem was that my clients didn’t love the gym as much as me. Gym was my passion. To them, going to the gym was a chore and only undertaken only because they had to. I would approach each client with enthusiasm and put in all my energy to construct interesting and intense sessions. I would train my clients hard but I was seeing no results.

It became clear that my clients were not training with the same intensity outside of our session…or not training at all. One client attended an afternoon session stinking of alcohol. It seemed every day I would hear more excuses about why they hadn’t been training or couldn’t attend a scheduled session.

As my clients were not demonstrating their commitment to the gym with the same passion as me, I lost the passion to help them. My sessions became little more then recycled, generic workouts. The majority of my clients just wanted to talk, so that’s what I did. If they started to sweat, it was due to the temperature, not the workout.

I stuck with the job for 2 years with the hope that I could somehow develop a reputation as a specialised trainer that could afford to pick and choose their clients. This would never happen though as I was barely making an effort to be a great trainer. As with my day job, I was going through the motions. Though the extra income was great, I decided to leave the job before I lost my own passion for my own training.

Though I posted Saving dollars & cents – Do what you love and..hopefully..money will follow, I don’t necessarily consider that doing what you love is a good thing. If the customer doesn’t share your passion, it can reduce your enthusiasm and it can just become a job.

Do work that is important to you and provides value. If you are emotionally attached to the work though, you risk losing your own love for what you do. Maybe some personal passions should stay that way.

‘Chuggers’ – The sleazy car salesmen of charities

I will divert from my usual blog content today to go off on a rant about charity muggers, or as they are more commonly known now, ‘chuggers’.

It seems these days, it is almost impossible to walk through a shopping centre or along a populated street without being approached by a chugger. The approach seems to be variations or combinations of irritation such as:

  • Walking up with an extended hand to shake
  • Making a complimentary/amusing comment about me
  • Dancing or gyrating in front of me so they cannot be ignored
  • Juggling or so other diversion
  • Trying to attract my attention, even long after a have passed them

A high percentage of the chuggers seem to be relatively attractive young men or women. Presumably, this assists in enticing people to talk to them. It is noticeable that the majority of the chuggers have an accent. I’m guessing that this is the preferred occupation now for those on working holidays, as opposed to working in a pub or a cafe. I don’t recall ever seeing an elderly chugger. Maybe they just have more respect for how they are perceived.

I will admit that I once did make the effort to listen to a chugger. Admittedly, it was a pity stop as it was a freezing cold day and the girl was standing outside with little protection. And yes, she was attractive and foreign.

She gave her spiel for a charity that I can’t recall but vaguely remember that it was worthwhile. Anyway, she somehow convinced me (…did I mention, attractive and foreign) that I should donate to the charity. I discussed how much I was willing to commit per month to be advised that it wasn’t enough! I was informed that the amount would not be enough to cover the administration costs. I can assure you that the amount was not pennies but real paper money and I was still a cheap skate! Perhaps the charity should consider their administration costs.

I donate to three charities and have done so for close to a decade. I won’t divulge the charities as I consider that choosing your charity and donating is a personal matter. My choices for charities are based on a cause that emotionally moves me. I research the available charities that help the cause and what work they do. I will then make a choice of what charitable organisation I wish to donate to. Prior to this post, I have never told anyone that I donate to a charity. If I felt the need to publicise that I donate, I am probably doing it for the wrong reason.

Perhaps that is why I detest the chugger. They are force-feeding a charity to me without emotion. They are dancing and singing on the street about something like children with cancer. The theatre of the chugger is just to attract attention, without any consideration to the solemn nature of the cause. I don’t expect wailing or tears but some respect. It all feels like someone that wants to earn a commission, not someone with a genuine passion for the charity. It comes across as very sleazy and to be honest, I lose some respect for the particular charity by utilising this approach.

In this age, the point of the chugger makes little point. Prior to the internet, it may have been appropriate to advertise on the street for a charity to promote awareness. As almost everyone carries a computer in their pocket these days and information is just a fingertip away, the need to have someone physically approach you on the street seems pointless.

It is interesting how chuggers and their harassing sales technique has become the standard now for charities. I’m not sure how the approach was developed and why. I have worked in customer service as well as sales for a large part of my career. I have been cognisant of doing my best to avoid ‘commission breath’ and approach customers professionally and with integrity. I may have missed some sales to a more aggressive individual but I always want to go to bed knowing I have helped a person and not just helped myself.

I won’t abuse a chugger but neither will I make the effort to acknowledge them. Perhaps I am being petty, however, to me they are serving no one but themselves with no interest to a charity.

To me, if someone wants to donate some money in the morning, go no further than the old fella sitting quietly in his Salvation Army outfit. These people live the cause.