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National Friendly's Men Leading By Example

To celebrate International Men’s Day, we invited five senior managers from National Friendly to tell us a little about themselves and how their attitudes have evolved and emotional intelligence developed during their own working lives. They all are in positions where they can inspire and motivate others towards positive change.

Often overlooked is the fact that men can and do suffer trauma in the same way that women do. 76% of suicides are by men, 85% of the homeless on our streets are men and 40% of domestic abuse victims are male. Mental health and mental strength, or issues surrounding it, are often at the root of these statistics, how to address these challenges is something all five of our contributors below have had to wrestle with and overcome.

Oliver Jones, commercial development manager relied upon his own mental strength and a can-do attitude to pull through at a time when everything around him seemed to be going wrong.

"One of my biggest achievements to date was successfully completing my dissertation. It may sound like an ‘is that it?’ moment, however it was at a time in my life where I felt everything was against me. My mum had cancer, I had split from my long term girlfriend, and I had returned home from Canada after the one of the best years of my life and my beloved football club Leicester City had been relegated. I felt as though nothing was going my way. I chose a subject in my dissertation that interested me most and used it as a way to escape daily life, but also a goal to 'get out of the rut'."

Alex Thorn, senior marketing executive admires a strong work ethic, he pushed himself to do something independent and far outside of his comfort zone.

"I decided to travel to the Australian outback and worked on a cattle station. I learnt new skills, but more than that, I learnt how to be confident in my own abilities, I learnt I could do things which previously I thought I could not."

Confidence, whether in the shape of self-confidence or confidence in oneself, were vital factors in both Oliver and Alex’s journeys. Without confidence, they felt trapped in the status quo, but for both, it was confidence in their own abilities to bring about change which unlocked a brighter future.

For Wayne Carter, head of sales and marketing says, "my initial inspiration to really push on, added to the negative sentiment around me, suggesting that I would never amount to anything.

"My dad was always critical of me. His negativity really proved pivotal in my life on two fronts, firstly I was going to make something of myself and prove him wrong and secondly, I would make sure my children did not have to suffer the same experience as me."

For Kurtis Reece, who works across PR and branding says, "we gain confidence by learning new skills or pursuing the activities that we are knowingly good at.

"One of my many duties is that I am an equalities and anti-bullying school governor for a primary school which I used to attend. Becoming a school governor has helped me to both give back to my community but also to gain further confidence in myself as my career develops.

"On a daily basis, I’m able to add value to young and adult lives by sharing my experiences with them as well as learning about their own circumstances and making sure that fairness is applied from a personal and business standpoint."

Sometimes, all that is needed to bring about change is a fresh viewpoint. That could be from a trusted outsider who perhaps can be more detached or it could be in the form of professional support, such as counselling. Either can act as catalyst to unlock positive change.

Neil Thompson, market and product intelligence manager freely admits that his attitudes to others are shaped by personal experience. "I’m inspired by people I meet all the time, especially those who have risen from hard times or who simply manage to survive unimaginable life events.

"I rank my counselling diploma and my volunteer work at Cruse Bereavement as being amongst my proudest personal successes. I made the decision to pay for a correspondence course in counselling which then led to years of training and learning so much about the human experience."

For all workers, whether male or female who might be facing their own mental health challenges, the role and attitude of your employer will also be a key factor. With ever greater recognition of how mental health can affect so many areas of our lives, perhaps holding us back, it is vital that employers adopt an enlightened attitude towards supporting their staff.

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