Do you remember that feeling as a child that you really could be anything you wanted? As a birthday gift I was recently given a tour of the Millennium Stadium (the home of Welsh Rugby) where I got to look round the players changing room, run onto the pitch and attend a press conference. As a massive Welsh Rugby fan I was thrilled but as a middle aged software manager it brought home just how unlikely it was that I would ever actually play for Wales.

In my sporting prime, I rowed at an international club level for Marlow rowing club. The contrast with my Rugby dreams was stark. By the time we got to the start line of each race we had already put a lot of time and effort into getting there. We knew what our goal was and we had a tight team where everyone could count on everyone else in the boat. We had proven ourselves and we were focused on winning – never just completing the race. Without goals we would not have got to this point. Without a training plan we would not have got to this point. Without check points along the way we would not have got to this point.

It’s so easy to blame others and to make excuses when we aren’t ”winning”, but that isn’t going to improve matters. So often staff blame poor managers. Having a great manager makes a huge difference but we all have experience of “bad” managers. Rather than complaining I’ve sought motivation from them. I was told I could not study electronic engineering, I was told that I could not study at Oxford, I was told I could not be a consultant. I wondered why, so deliberately did them all largely because I couldn’t see why not and was inspired to prove these people wrong and to learn about my strengths and weaknesses.

I was fortunate that these haphazard targets lead me to success so you should think about what you want to achieve. You only have yourself to blame if you’re not living the life you want and it’s down to you to change it – not your manager. Surround yourself with successful people. Be proud and respect those around you but don’t be in awe of them. Approach people you wouldn’t normally, such as a director and show genuine interest. Whatever you do give it your all, don’t just hide or settle for meritocracy – you’re better than that.

Life is tough at times so have something that reminds you of your motivation, perhaps a model car, pictures of your children or a competition flyer. Continuously learn, improve and ask questions. Set targets, make them realistic and achievable – get there in baby steps if necessary but get a plan that gets you there.

Be the best and don’t look back and wonder “what if”.


Keep written communications short and unambiguous. No exceptions.

Capture critical decisions, agreements and proof of escalations.
Establish metrics and use them to communicate what management want to know.

Most other comms will probably benefit from discussing directly with the audience, in which case, check what your audience want to learn and check you deliver that. Think of what you want to get out of the conversation and make the point clearly.