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Step On: The Power of a First Move

In 1997 I was working in a dead end, minimum wage job at Manchester airport when I had a chance encounter with an airline captain. I’m not sure why even now, but I asked him how he got to where he was. The answer was strikingly simple: “I picked a first step, made that move. Then even when things got tough and I doubted myself, I kept going.” The captain went and I never saw him again.


It seemed too simplistic: I’d left school at 16 with unremarkable qualifications and people like me just aren’t airline pilots. But the words had a wisdom to them and the conversation lodged in my head. For weeks I dwelled and pondered.


One Saturday morning while lying on my mattress (no bed bit back then) in my friend’s box room that I was renting, something clicked. Maybe, just maybe. “Pick a first step”. What’s to lose?


I went downstairs and found the Yellow Pages (if you’re young it’s a big booky thing for looking up companies). I flicked through to flying clubs. I chose one. And dialed the number. That was my first step.


Ten years from that day I was a British Airways captain.


It was far from an easy journey. There were many times I considered giving up. But the captain’s words stayed with me.


In 2015 I stopped flying after a medical issue. I now help others on their tough journeys to health. I specialise in weight loss and particularly enjoy helping the people who have almost given up. I employ many behaviour change techniques but never forget the power of a first step.

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