What makes a great therapist?

With Christmas looming, traditionally our busiest time of the year, we rely on our team more than ever. In our labour-intensive industry, we are only ever as good as the staff we employ.

Like any other profession that involves delivering a service to customers, we are reliant on people to provide it; the customer experience is largely in their hands. However we try and police it, it’s down to them, which is why employing great people has never been so important. But what signifies great?

Competent in delivering treatments, for sure. Excelling in technical expertise, certainly. But is there something else that quantifies what sets some therapists apart from others?

US education author Charles Sykes wrote this widely circulated list of 11 lessons for new graduates and school-leavers and for me it totally sums up what young people need to learn about life, work, colleagues and succeeding. It’s still as relevant now as it was in 1996 when the book was published.

1. Life is not fair; get used to it.

2. The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

3. You will not make $40,000 a year right out of high school.

4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.

6. If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault. Don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

7. Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So, before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

10. Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Many young people think the world owes them a living, wanting success to come instantly, and when it doesn’t, they can lose interest or become demotivated. Perhaps they need to digest these wise words.

I have a great young team, but for every one of them that I help mentor, there are others who fail to turn up for interviews, don’t bother to get back to me, or lack the drive, passion and commitment that is vital to get where they want to be in life.

I’ll certainly be pinning this up on my staff noticeboard and showing it to my children.

Hellen WardHellen Ward is managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London’s Sloane Square and chair of Trailblazers for the hairdressing sector.

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