I was 28 when I started running my first dealership. Achieving that before I turned 30 was, back then, quite an achievement. I’m not too modest to admit I did a good job in running that dealership and it was an extremely successful business. I recall during that time, a man called Bill Rhodes, one of the directors of William’s Holdings PLC took me to one side and said we’ve got to grow this business and we’d like you to lead the Vehicle Division. As was the way with many a meeting back then, we went to the Waterfront Hotel in Hull and stood at the bar to talk business. Bill explained that I was to replace myself as the general manager in the dealership and then grow the vehicle business. Although an exciting proposition, it was daunting. Applying success to the dealership I had worked my way up in was one thing, leading the success of an entire division was something else. Could I do it? What would happened if I failed? Perhaps letting on I was a little out of my comfort zone, my first question, albeit naively was; “Where will I work?” The concept of work for me, up to that point, was a place you went.
He said don’t worry, we’ll sort that out, just concentrate on getting your replacement. Bill could sense that I was a little nervous and uncertain about what would happen next. Perhaps sensing I was questioning my own capabilities and limitations, Bill shared something. Trevor, he said to me, one day you’ll meet someone, perhaps have a meeting or lunch with someone and you’ll discuss many things. You’ll then see that person on the news or in the FT making statements about the future of the car industry or the economy that you’ll listen to, along with thousands of others, and take for gospel as they’ve been positioned as the expert. You need to take yourself back to your meeting with them and remind yourself that in that meeting, you were equals. That person hasn’t got anything that you haven’t got. Over the years, as time goes on, you’ll meet more and more people that are celebrities, famous, achieving success or accolades through the belief of themselves, or the belief of others of what they are capable of. More often than not, they’ve not got anything you haven’t got.
He was right of course and his belief in me turned out to be contagious and I soon started believing in myself and achieving what he knew I could. His story reminded me of one of my favourite movies that perfectly illustrates this ideology. The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy’s search to find the one person that people told her could get her home along with her trio of unlikely helpers. A man made of straw with no brain who’s destined to be a fool, a man made of tin who had no heart because he’s mechanical, a lion who daren’t call himself a lion as he has no courage. All these battled the odds together and made it to the man they were told can give them everything they need. Oz, the great and Powerful. The great Wizard. Only to find he does not have magical powers. However, the wizard was in fact everything they needed. He was simply the person who told them they could do it. He taught them that belief in themselves was all they needed to achieve what they desired. Being a great leader is being the Wizard. Not pretending to be an all seeing and magical superpower, but giving people the confidence to believe in themselves to achieve their own greatness.
“You've always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.” – The Wizard of Oz