I’ve Been In Your Shoes

Your job is what you do, not who you are

In July 1999 when I was 16 years old and I left school, I started my career as an apprentice mechanical engineer. What is an engineer? In most people’s minds it is a person who works with their hands, fixes machines, cars, trains, planes, systems, wears overalls and gets dirty.

I am an engineer and I wouldn’t change it for anything, I have huge pride in being an engineer. I have worked with some amazing people who helped me get to where I am today, and I want to do the same for you. It is a huge privilege to be able to write my articles and to share my knowledge with you.

What I share will help you on your career journey and guide you to become a leader. It is a decision you have to make whether you want to become more, and help others, along with helping yourself. I hope you make the right decision.

1. You Can Make A Difference

In the role that you are currently in, no matter what level, what field or industry, you can make a difference. You can have a very positive influence on your peers and your organisation every day. You have the potential to push yourself and achieve far more than you ever thought possible.


If you spend the time going through my articles, you will see huge benefits that we as hard workers and dreamers need. People who are not in leadership positions who work in offices, depots, shops, workshops, mainline and garages are not valued enough. That needs to change.

To create the future you want, it is very important that you accept the responsibility for it

I want to help you go further than you could ever imagine, and a lot quicker than you could ever imagine. What I have learned over the years will hopefully inspire you to take those steps and reach not just to the next level, but even higher.

I want to give you the tools and knowledge that I and a lot of other people I knew did not get until later on in life.

I believe you can reach those heights, and do the things that you never imagined you could do. As you go through my articles, I hope you feel motivated to make that difference in other people’s lives and in your own life. I hope you feel and think differently as you go through my articles, and see a brighter future for yourself.

Throughout my time as an engineer, I never met one person who didn’t share a story about their career. Most of the stories were very funny, but some of them were more serious. I’m sure you can identify with this and had the same experience. I’d like to take you back to my early days as an engineer for a minute, if you don’t mind.

2. Leadership Works In ALL Walks Of Life

No matter what industry you are in, or what job you do, people are people and we all work Monday to Friday 8 hours a day (if not longer). So, any story I share from my engineering career you will definitely be able to relate to.

People help build and create our world; they can help save the world

As an apprentice engineer, I had a supervisor who was extremely tough and demanding. He loved that he was the boss and abused his power. Not just with the apprentices but also with the senior engineers who had been there longer than he had.

Right from the beginning he lost my respect as a person. I respected that he was the supervisor but as a human being, he would have to earn my respect back.

I did as I was told, when I was told, and how I was told. There was no question that whatever I said to him, went in one ear and out the other. After all, why would he listen to me?

3. Realise Your Potential

This website will help you to realise just how much potential you have. It took me a while to realise it, but you and I also had and have decisions to make when it comes to that potential.

I began my engineering career when I was 16 years old in 1999. I will never forget my first day.

I started working for an automotive company that built the assembly lines which shaped the engine blocks for car manufacturers like; Ford, Jaguar, Mitsubishi and more.

On that first day I was introduced to my supervisor, who straight away handed me to one of the senior engineers. He worked this very big machine, I hadn’t seen anything so big before in my life.

I remember thinking, as I looked at this machine, I am an engineer now….for life. I was both proud and scared at the same time. Big machines would be part of my everyday work life for many years to come.

Speaking of scared, my new workmate showed me how to work the machine that would cut and shape the lift arms for the assembly line. Once I knew how, I was on my own, on my very first day. It was so scary that I just did exactly as I was told, or I tried to anyway.

4. We ALL Find It Difficult

I found it really difficult at first, especially when using the crane to lift the huge pieces of steal that I would try to cut into the lift arm shape. I couldn’t figure out what way was up, forward or back. The arrows all pointed the same way. I was getting it wrong, and as you can imagine, the guys found it very funny and made fun of me.

That’s basically how my engineering career started.

For the next four years of my apprenticeship and then seven more years of working in other companies as a mechanical engineer, I worked almost every hour that was available to me. I needed the overtime as it was a necessity to me I felt. Everyone thought the pay should be better, so we did as much overtime as we could.

After my apprenticeship and working as a mechanical engineer, it was drilled into me that I had a job for life. For many that sounded great, but to me I wasn’t happy with just having the same job for life.

I wanted to climb the ladder and make a difference in the world with my career. A lot of the guys who helped me through my apprenticeship and further on, are still doing the same job from twenty to thirty years ago.


I find that sad because there is so much potential within those guys, and it is also within you and I. However, not many know about this potential. My purpose for my website is to help you realise your potential as soon as possible.

I also want you to earn the respect you deserve in your current role, especially among your colleagues and peers, and in your industry.

In 2006 things started to change for me as I was introduced to a mentor who believed in me and my potential.

If I can be that mentor for you through my articles and my books, it will be an absolute privilege.

It will be a privilege to help you find yourself

It will be a privilege to help you increase your influence

It will be a privilege to help you grow

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

20 thoughts on “I’ve Been In Your Shoes

  1. Wow, I loved your story because I was also an engineer but I quit after working for 5 years as I felt I could do more as you have said.
    This is so true most of my friends seems like they are comfortable and are wanting to live a normal 9-5 which is not bad at all but I just find that there is so much the world can offer than just a normal job.
    This is the reason in 2019 I just quit and now I am happier than could ever be.

    1. Hi Thabo,

      Thank you for sharing your comment with me today, I truly appreciate it.

      It’s great that you can share your experiences as an engineer too. I’m so pleased that you can relate to my experiences also and I hope other engineers read this article and your comment that can help them.

      All the best,


  2. Thank you so much for this brilliantly written article, Tom! As a newly licensed attorney, I fully relate to your sentiments. Passing the Bar wasn’t easy-it took months upon months of studying, discipline, dedication, and outright hard work. I was filled with so many emotions on my first day as an attorney: gratitude, joy, happiness, relief, excited nervousness, etc. I thank Yah (God) everyday that I’m in this position, but I know that being an attorney doesn’t define me, I will make a difference in my clients’ lives, leadership is crucial to my success, things won’t always be easy, and I will realize my potential through Yah’s eyes. Excellent read, Tom!

    1. Hi C.N.,

      Congratulations on becoming a newly licensed attorney, I hope the role is going well and I hope my articles are helping you.

      If you need any further guidance then you can download my free E-Books and online courses too.

      All the best,


  3. Hi Tom,

    I believe your guidance helps people find what they can accomplish in their careers or achieve people’s full potential for their positions. We all indeed think some tasks are difficult to reach in the first place, but if we don’t take the first step towards it, we never know we can conquer all the challenges to our success. Thanks for this inspiring article today, which motivates me to go further. 🙂


    1. Hi Matt,

      I appreciate your comment, thank you for sharing it.

      I’m really pleased you think my articles guide people in both their careers and in their lives too.

      Keep being motivated to strive towards your goals and become the highly effective leader you always wish you had.

      All the best,


  4. I enjoyed reading about your personal experience as this is true for all of us. We all need to start somewhere and we will all make mistakes along the way. Thinking back on the silly mistakes we made or our incompetence when we were still inexperienced brings fond memories and funny moments.

    It is exactly these moments that I believe should be in the back of the mind of every manager, remembering where he/she started out in the very beginning, also being very inexperienced and making many mistakes.

    This should lead to empathy. What makes a good manager is to be able to strike a good balance between having empathy when this is applicable, but at the same time also having high standards. Regardless of the situation, the manager should of course earn respect by treating his workforce/colleagues with respect at all times.

    1. Hi Schalk,

      Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate it.

      Empathy is definitely one of the most important traits of a highly effective leader and is one that we ALL must practice. Whether that be in the work place or in our personal lives with our family and friends.

      Keep being the empathetic leader you are.

      All the best,


  5. Hi Tom,

    Your motivating and positive message about how we are all more than what our job is hits home for me. Growing up it was drilled into me about the importance of finding a good job and staying with it, and I realized how it became so much of my identity that it began to have an outsized influence in my life. I realized that it wasn’t healthy to live this way. I enjoy my job now as its a great place to work and grow professionally, but it isn’t what defines me. Thank you for sharing this perspective and your story, I always enjoy reading your articles for inspiration.

    1. Hi Dereck,

      Thank you for your comment and I’m so glad that you found this article motivational.

      I appreciate you sharing your experience from when you were growing up and that you can relate to a similar experience that I have had. Hopefully people can relate to both of us and learn from us too.

      Keep sharing your very own positive and inspirational message every day.

      All the best,


  6. Hi Tom,
    Thank you for the inspiring article!
    It brought me back to my every day struggle as I am at work and I cannot stop asking myself: Why am I doing this? Why is my job not making me happy? Why don’t I see value in this?
    I am not trying to say that my job is not helping anyone because I would be lying but I start feeling that an office job like the one I have is starting to kill me inside slowly 🙂
    Although I have been very lucky to be able to find a good paying job, with potential for growth and constant learning, where I met many amazing (and not so amazing) people, I agree with you Tom that each of us has the potential to do and to be more. That is why it is very important to stay hungry and keep hustling and striving to get to know one self and manifest those beliefs and that personality.

    Cheers and all the best,

    1. Hey Tatiana,

      It is my pleasure to inspire you through this article, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

      The questions you are asking yourself are difficult to answer but they are important if you want to be working on something that you are passionate about, and you want to learn how to make yourself happy.

      I’m hoping that people who read your comment may be able to relate to you and hopefully learn from you too.

      Keep being positive and striving towards your goals.

      All the best,


  7. Hi Tom,

    Before you even mentioned that the statement “being an engineer for life” was scary I thought the exact same thing: “Scary … to have the same job for the rest of your life.” At 16 you can’t even begin to know what to expect from life or what life is going to throw at you. It’s too early to make such a momentous decision, to do the same job for the rest of your life. Nonetheless, for many people that seems to be the norm. I also believe that we can be more than is expected of us or what is laid out for us.

    Your first day on the job sounds memorable. I’m sure the guys had a lot of fun at your expense 😉 Those become good memories in the end.

    1. Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your amazing thoughts.

      Having a job for life used to sound great, but when you think about it and understand that it’s not so great, it really is scary.

      All the best,


  8. Hi Tom,

    I always love coming back to your website, as it provides such a big value. Also, it reminds me how great leadership skills are needed in today’s society or workplace. I agree with you that everyone can make difference and in any field. Also, that it can be hard at the beginning, but I like the approach: never try-never know. I remember back in my days in hotel industry where I was working as front end agent (ABROAD !!!) and through my short (4 years) period I earned respect of the people, so they chose me to be the manager. I am sure that part of this opening came thanks to my leadership skills. Great piece of content. Cheers

    1. Hi Julius,

      Thank you for your comment and for coming back to my website. It gives me a great feeling that you love to come back.

      We are all here to make a difference in the world, we all have the ability to do so.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences abroad, I hope people can relate to your experiences as well as mine.

      All the best,


  9. It’s a great feeling to be able to work at something that we love to do.
    I know a few people who dread getting out of bed in the mornings as they get no satisfaction from their work. They treat it as ‘a job’ and are only there for the money.

    If we are able to attain satisfaction, growth, and personal development at work, we are on to a winner.

    Thanks for being a positive influence on those that want more than just a job.

    All the best!

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your comment and I totally agree that it is a great feeling.

      A lot of the guys I worked with in the past hated getting out of bed in the morning because they hated their work. I was one of them too. But, like you, I learned what I love to do and how I could help others.

      Keep helping others being the inspiration you are for your people.

      All the best,


  10. We want to be a good influencer to better our company and peers around us. Encouraging others to help and get things done right. We are glad that we ran into this article along with the other ones we have read.
    They help and we keep coming back to read and see what else is new you been in our shoes and want to teach us the right way to be a leader.


    1. Hi Matthew/Deloris,

      I appreciate your comment.

      Being an influencer online and increasing your influence with people is very different.

      I hope you guys take action on what you learn on this article and share what you learn with the people who follow you as an influencer.

      All the best,


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