Michael Watts

Living to make humanity better



Being a better me, my story by iammichaelwatts

Stage 7:

After much tweaking, many amendments, and several revisions, here is my story....

[Please read, analyse and give your me honest feedback. I really do want to improve it - and me.]

My story

Think back to 2012.

You may remember that it was a year of great significance to the UK. It was the year of the Olympics in London. It was the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

And it was a year of great significant to me too.

It was a year that I lost myself. I lost my purpose. I stopped being me.

Actually, my story started the year before.

In 2011.

2011 was the year I become a father for the second time - we had a set of twins joining our 3 year old - our own little BOGOF deal! And anybody that has one child that age will know, sleep is a luxury! And we had 3.

On top of that, all 3 children had additional needs & learning disabilities that were just starting to show.

Since the trauma of the birth of the twins - when I almost lost them both as well as my wife, my best friend and my rock - I was exhausted - physically and emotionally. The day-to-day was wearing me down.

And then in Easter 2012, we had a large restructure at work which meant that my role changed significantly. I moved to a new team. My day to day tasks changed. I changed.

And looking back now, I can admit that it was too much for me.

As someone who has always prided themselves on loving change, seeking change, and pushing for change everywhere I go, I'm still thoroughly disappointed in myself about how this impacted on me. I gave myself a kicking about this then - and I sometimes still give myself a kicking about it now.

At times I have reflected on what happened and started to pick myself apart - what was it that made me not cope? Why did I react the way I did? Why did I not grab the opportunity that this created like I normally do?

And I came up with the reason - through a lack of energy to give to the day-to-day, let alone the new situation; through the change in my role; and through the new demands put on me, I had lost my purpose.

The new work required me to think in new ways. To learn new skills. To create, foster & nurture new relationships. And to reconnect to a new job purpose.

And I just couldn't do that. I just didn't have the energy to do it.

In my mind I had also set 2012 as the year that I would move on from my current employer. The ironic things is, after 6 years at my employer, I told myself that I wanted to seek a new opportunity. And then when I was given it - I couldn't take it.

But I now know why - I never had the energy to put in to refocusing on my new role to help me redefine my purpose.

I was never giving the full me to work - or home. And this was having a huge impact on me perosnally - and as a result, it was having a singificant impact on my team. We were spiralling. We weren't delivering our work. Our standards were sloppy at best. There was conflict. We were stuck in a rut and going nowhere.

I was letting both groups of people who needed me down.

And it was eating me up. It ate me up so much I got to a point - something had to change.

I had to change. Or I had to leave.

So I set about changing me.

The first thing I did was to do the the tjhing that I have always done when I feel lost - I sought inspiration - and I found that inspiration at home.

Sitting on my bookshelf gathering dust was a book that I had won a year or so before in a competition by a national newspaper. A book that I had never read. But a book that has since changed me forever.

The book was amazing. It resonated with me completely. It was like the author was in my head.

What was the book I hear you asking? It was Onward by Howard Schultz - chairman, ceo and president of Starbucks.

Onward provided page after page of inspiration about how Howard and his team had transferred Starbucks by refinding the very thing that I had lost - it's focus, its mission, it's purpose. It was like gold dust to me. I was consuming it, every word, and relating it all back to me and my struggles.

And whilst reading Onward I then stumbled across something and someone that has also inspired me and changed me forever.

In the transformation of Starbucks, Howard turned to a company - through their inspirational leader - to help them rediscover their focus, their mission, their purpose.

And the approach that the company used was how I wanted to be - but at the time I didn't feel confident enough to be it. They worked to reconnect people in the company back to the very work that they do by better understanding the reason why they do it. Yes I thought - that's what I need to do. With me - and with my team.

What was the name of the company? It was SYPartners.

What was the name of their leader? It was Keith Yamashita.

I needed to know more about them. So I set out to find out more by using the only place to find information now, Google!

It turned out that the company, SYPartners, is an American firm that builds its work around their rather aspiration mission - to achieve, & inspire others to achieve, greatness.

Now, my experience in my career had always been in organisations that are quite conservative in their approach and which tend to do things the way that they have always been done. And this has always irritated me.

I have always felt that there are better ways of doing these things. New approaches. Approaches that better engage and connect with people. And Howard & Keith showed me that this other approach does work - if you put 100% of yourself into it and fully believe in what you are doing - and you are bold to state that that's what you want to achieve.

So that's what I did.

Inspired by Howard and Keith, I created a plan using one of SYPartners tools, Unstuck, where I would tackle two of my biggest personal issues that were impacting on me.

Firstly, I would reconnect with my work. I would fall back in love with my job. I would find my thing again, and do that. What ever happened, I would be a better me.

And then, once I was a better me, I would refocus, realign and regroup my team. Using another SYPartners tool, Teamworks, which was run by an amazing product manager called Julie, we would start with the basics - better communication, more empathy with each other, and a new commitment to working towards becoming a great team.

We also started to better understand ourselves. We started to look at our collective and personal strengths and weaknesses, and our individual personalities.

We started to understand our individual superpowers - that is, the one thing that is the role that we are put on earth to do, the one thing that we all do better than anyone else on our team. And then we started to understand everybody else's superpowers too. We then held onto them and let them guide our work.

We took small steps to start, but we made bold aims - we wanted to be a great team.

We worked hard day in and day out on becoming a better team.

And I worked hard day in and day out on being a better me.

I started to give the whole of me at work. I started to be the culture I wanted to see - empathetic, having high standards, being supportive & challenging, delivering our work, and communicating with others.

And it started to work.

By being a better me, by giving my team 100% of me, and by realigning & refocsing us, we started to make progress. We delivered our work. We were talking to each other. People then started to want to join my team.

And then something else happened. Culture started to change. We started bringing in a different way of thinking. We challenged the 'we've always done it this way' approach. We were making a difference.

Since then, I have stuck to being a better me, every day. There have been ups and downs along the way, there have been times when I've not been able to give 100% of me on a particular day, and there have been times when we have had conflict in the team - but we have found the solution and resolved these all quickly. The foundations we built have got us through.

And by being the me that I want to be, I have managed to support and guide my team through it. And I have held onto my superpower and let it guide everything I do. I hear you wondering what my superpower was - it was creative thinking.

By becoming happy, more confident again and enjoying my job, I was being a better me at home to.

And since then, I have continued to define who I am.

Again inspired by Keith, I have set out my personal purpose as my own compass in my decision making - I am on this earth to do life, better.

That means in my own life - to make better decisions everyday, to be a better person, to be a better me.

It also means to help others do their lives better - through my work, through my interactions with people in the street - such as smiling, holding doors, letting people go first - and through the digital me - including telling my story here.

So my story started with me being lost, of feeling stuck and having no purpose.

And I end with this reliasation.

In the three years since then, I have rediscovered myself; I have realigned the work, personal and digital me's; and I have set out and fully lived my personal purpose.

I have changed. I am inspired. I am being the me I want to be.

If you feel inspired to do the same, please let me know your story. I would love to listen, learn from and be inspired by you.

By doing this, we really can do life, better.

[The end]

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Stage 6:

I've been working to refine my wording and my approach, and in line with Keith's approach, to use as a few words asd possible, so I started to pull together the beginning part of my story into a Storify approach. See https://storify.com/iammichaelwatts/my-story

This has really helped me focus, and allowed my create thinking [my superpower] out!

I enjoyed this approach so much, I am going to finish telling my story in this method.


side noteI've also used the learning from this process to create a story presentation for a session in running this week.

Check out how I'm using "Ron's" story to improve the carers assessment process below:

You can also download it at http://www.slideshare.net/michaelwatts/using-storytelling-to-improve-the-carers-assessment-process 


Stage 5:

Here are my handwriting notes which I am refining and pulling into a powerpoint presentation, to then turn into a video to tell my story.









And here's the beginning of it:

Stage 4:

So I've started to now write my story by hand.

This has been a really interesting experience. Whilst writing it, I got a little lost and went off on a few little meanders so, using the components of the story, I'm making myself rein those in and stay on task! 


But still quite a bit of pruning needed...!


Stage 3:

I've started to create my order & structure using the sheets and then drawing this our on Paper by 53. Here are some images of my progress:






Stage 2:

The next step I have taken is to turn this into a video - without sound! - as a very basic proof of concept idea. 

This is a very, very early draft of the video, so watch at your own risk :-) 


Stage 1:

Here are my completed worksheets. I'm going to be sharing my learning through my blog too so that we can inspire more:






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