How Do I Get to Wear Shiny Shoes?

Sean Dasher
Contributing Writer
Direct Energy/Direct Energy

I was recently conducting a training at an HVAC location. Afterwards, one of the attendees asked me: “How do I get out of the truck and get to wear Shiny shoes”? I was taken by surprise and never really thought about how I had made that transition. I gave the standard “work hard and you will get there” answer but later, while sitting in the airport I had to ask myself that question; “How did I get out of the truck”? Were my shoes too shiny? I take care of them just like I took care of my work boots in the industry as well as in the military. Only difference now is I will sometimes pay someone else to shine them, usually when I’m in the airport! I think it’s an important question, so let’s look at some steps that you can take to get a pair of those shiny shoes!

Having grown up in the trades, both HVAC and Electrical, I have worked on job sites, in houses, on ships, drawbridges, slaughterhouses, and lift stations. These are the places I cut my teeth. In addition, this is where I learned proper procedures, time-saving techniques, job site and time management, industry codes, and safety. All the experience and exposure I got in the field helped me when I applied for my first management position. I would say it was my basic training but I had much more (and still do) to learn about successfully running a profitable business.

It didn’t take long to find out that I was not the best manager when I first traded the uniform for a polo and slacks.   While I may have been the best choice among the candidates, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. So as many do, I reverted to my comfort zone; my military training. I implemented an authoritarian style of management. Even though I got the work done and met or exceeded my budget, people didn’t like me. After a while, I decided to hit the reset button and find out what type of manager I SHOULD be.

I studied, attended conferences, used the tools my franchise provided, and attended training after training. I committed to my own development. Luckily, I also made some good career decisions along the way, set goals, and stuck to a plan that I believed would deliver my vision of where I saw myself in the future. With this plan and mindset, I achieved everything I set my mind to. What I focused on became reality.

I think the answer to the original question is not simple. There are not enough tools, classes, or “how to” books written to answer it. I believe challenging work is a key element. It may mean you aren’t making 100k right out of school. BUT, you must keep the end goal in mind. Apprenticeship programs are a fantastic way to learn. On the job training coupled with classroom opens your eyes not only to “how we do it around here” but to why you should do it this way (per code). If you are in the trades and after work go home to play video games, it’s likely you may not meet your career goals. On the other hand, if you continuously educate yourself you are investing in you. Sacrifice is required.

I love what I do and don’t believe I would be a National Trainer today if I hadn’t embraced a different mindset and a unique way of doing things. The simple fact is I can go on and on about what helped me get those “shiny shoes”. The question you need to ask yourself is: “What are you willing to do to get them”? I wouldn’t trade any experience I’ve had or any position I’ve accepted. I learned from them all. The key is educating yourself, listening more than you speak, making good decisions, staying safe, and above all serving others. Hope this helps you on your way to the mall to buy those shiny shoes.

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