Someone else who has inspired me in my life- and please note I am not going for the obvious people here like my family and friends (or my fiancee who would win hands down) is Bill Young, who was running a young person’s drop-in centre in Brighton when I was volunteering there, around the time I was finishing up my MA at Sussex Uni.
My volunteer role there was pretty simple but also quite varied- anything from helping in the kitchen to overseeing the computer area, to working at reception, to just chatting to the young people, some of whom were extremely vulnerable.
From the off I liked Bill. He clearly loved his work and the young people loved him. He was also such an inspiring person to have as a manager when you were a volunteer, he made you feel appreciated, safe, and useful. Bill was a master at understanding what made the young people tick, at respecting boundaries and enforcing rules but not over-worrying about bureaucracy. I thought that Bill could easily be running a huge company (and when I spoke to him about his past career at one time he had managed a very large team)- but it was so obvious that he loved the work he was doing and didn’t want anything more.
I picked up a number of important lessons from him. One is that if you find a job you like, work doesn’t feel like work. I have a job I love right now, but I don’t yet feel good enough at it that work doesn’t sometimes feel like work. I’ll keep trying! Another is that having a real impact isn’t about being the person who shouts loudest or who shows off their vast ability- it is also about people who just really show that they care and who are quietly very competent.