I’ll be honest with you; a lot of my life prior to working at the Basin was spent behind a television screen. Going on walks and appreciating nature seemed to be a distant memory from childhood. Now was the time for shooting zombies and slaying dragons. It wasn’t that I disliked nature or wildlife; I think I just became a typical teenager, and lost touch with my roots.
The trouble with becoming attached to a screen is that it can impact your social life. I became terrible at talking to people. Things were so bad, that I would avoid going to the hairdressers to save the grief of talking to a stranger. Much to my horror, you do actually need to interact with people in the real world; so once I started this job, I was very out of my comfort zone.
A big part of this job is providing excellent customer service. It’s a very customer focussed role, and I’m not sure I was aware of how big a part that was when I first applied. The people I worked with over the first few months will tell you, I was genuinely terrified of manning the front desk where customers are first greeted. I would hide behind more confident workmates, letting them take the reins. I was more elusive than the bittern when the doormat or phone rang.
As time went on this became unrealistic, and I was forced to take control of the situation. Two volunteers on an internship, Meili and Aileen (whose confidence and people skills I greatly admire), left at the end of their contract, leaving me by myself. I was to either sink or swim. Although I miss them both – that was the best possible thing that could have happened.
This is a success story – I’m still treading that water baby! I lie – I’m not only treading, I’m diving off the side of the pool, and racing through the water… if I may say so myself.
To illustrate the change – last month, I was on par with our best sales woman, Alison, in terms of recruiting new members to the Scottish Wildlife Trust. I hear that a key component to being a successful sales person is being a people person. A what? Yes that is right Benedict, you’ve become a people person. By exposing myself to the challenge of interacting with the public, my fear subsided and my confidence grew. I realised I wasn’t going to be eaten alive by visitors just here to see the birds.
This confidence has seeped into other areas of my life. I’m more outgoing now. I can hold a conversation with a beautiful woman and not feel that the world will end if I ‘say the wrong thing’. My males friends say my posture has changed, I now speak with confidence, not shying away when we have discussions. However the pinnacle of my new found confidence was evident at a recent job interview, I spoke as if I was talking among friends, and it worked – I got the job.
I learned something else about myself when I was assisting a large group of young people with learning difficulties. Seeing the joy and happiness on each of their faces when teaching them about the kingfisher, the pink-footed geese, and how to use the telescopes was a fantastic feeling. Being able to give someone a memorable experience which left them feeling good about themselves was something that I never knew that meant so much to me.
I owe a great deal of this success to my job at the Basin. Being surrounded by positive people, who want you to improve and succeed, can have an astounding effect. The people I’ve met and worked with at the Basin have taught me a great deal. I want to acknowledge the fantastic bunch of people I have had the pleasure of working alongside at the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre. Every employee and volunteer cares greatly about making a difference – and not in a hippy passive way – they are actually active in trying to make a difference. I would thank everybody on here individually, but I’d prefer to do that in person – now that I can speak!
In a previous blog, I was honest in saying that I only took this job for money, but I’ll say it again, it’s become so much more than just that. I would highly recommend working or volunteering for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. I take pride in working at the Basin alongside some of the kindest and best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. 6 months has passed, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that it has been the best job I‘ve ever had. I came to this job an immature, arrogant, entitled university graduate with a narrow mindset of what I liked and disliked, and what I was good and bad at. This job has been a welcomed wake up call.
Looking to the future I see myself exploring Edinburgh’s outdoors, seeking out the wildlife (and nightlife), seeing the sights, meeting new people and developing myself further. However there is one big difference in this picture compared to one of my life six months ago. The television is off.
Benedict George Murray, Visitor Centre Assistant