Taking time for the softer things in life

Categories: Workplace

At age 62, Shaun Hay is a contented graduate of the University of Hard Knocks. 

His working life was riddled with ups and downs – intense ones – as he started out in aircraft, delved into insurance, consulting, and finally settled in the banking industry. 

The differences in required technical skills in each industry are pretty extreme, and Shaun nailed every job well. Yet he was far from feeling fulfilled. 

In the past, he wasn’t a people- person. Communicating well with his colleagues was an issue. Coupled with the bigger problem of a lack of meaning in his work – he left company after company and went “industry-hopping”.

Today, communication is the most important skill in his line of work.
So what made him become the Head of Learning and Development today, with colleagues and subordinates coming to him for career advice? 

It all started when Shaun was a Senior learning manager, and he was required to give both corporate training and sales training to his subordinates. Being only well-versed in sale training – the technicalities of sales, processes and products – he was unfamiliar with the other. 

A “young chap”, Alex, was recruited then to do the corporate training that focused on softer skills. Shaun’s lack of expertise in the area was what made him set his ego down to learn from him. Yet what inspired his change into a people-person, was Alex’s big heart and unwavering authenticity.  

Alex’s genuine soft and facilitative character touched Shaun and inspired him to learn about the softer things in life. Shaun then opened the door to exploring things like Neuro-Linguistics Programme, Emotional Etiquette etc. Applying the softer skills to areas that constantly failed previously, he had his Eureka moments when his family and relationships started looking up. 

Instead of talking down to people from outside their worlds, he now invites people to his world and tries to enter theirs. 

His transition to becoming a better communicator involved learning from scratch. That was just the tip of the iceberg, as he firmly believes that learning is a continuous journey. Humans cannot remain static, as to make a difference in your career, you have to keep replenishing yourself with knowledge. 

“The more you know, the more you can give” – is his mantra for endless learning. 

Four industries, four decades and five depressive incidents later, Shaun has had multiple turning points. From being fixated on the idea that he was Superman to learning from a subordinate, he swallowed pills of pride – and here he is today. 



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