Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

The first day in our new jobs

The newest All Blacks - Elliot Dixon, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, coach Steve Hansen, Tom Franklin, Damian McKenzie, Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Seta Tamanivalu in May. Photo / Getty Images
The newest All Blacks - Elliot Dixon, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, coach Steve Hansen, Tom Franklin, Damian McKenzie, Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Seta Tamanivalu in May. Photo / Getty Images

Ostensibly, this is for you - Elliot Dixon, Liam Squire and Ofa Tu'ungafasi, the three All Black new caps named to play Wales last night.

But it's for all of us. Because almost all of us have been, or will one day be, there. Maybe not in a black jersey with a silver fern over our hearts. But certainly with the same cocktail of nerves, excitement and purpose most people feel on their first day of a new job. So, for all of us, high-achieving Kiwis share stories of their first day in a new job, for our rookies in black.

Sir Colin Meads. Photo / File
Sir Colin Meads. Photo / File

I was so worried I was going to get injured before the New South Wales match.
Sir Colin Meads

All Black great Sir Colin Meads on his All Black debut in 1957: "I spent a lot of time afraid before my All Black debut.

When I was picked as an All Black you would read about players getting injured and never actually taking the field. That was always a worry.

"My All Blacks debut was against an invitation team at Wollongong.

"Your first game is just huge. It's something you remember for the rest of your life. I remember sitting in the shed before the game and I was so worried I was going to get injured before the New South Wales match. I didn't want to get up.

"I said to [Sir Wilson] Whineray: 'If I get up I'll trip over on this concrete floor.' He said, 'No, you'll be right.' He was also on debut and probably as nervous as I was.

"My advice for the new All Blacks is to just be part of the team. Do your job. You've been given a job to do and do it to the best of your ability.

"Anything else that comes along is a bonus, and if you wait it will come."

John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell
John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It was without doubt one of the greatest [days] of my life.
John Key

Prime Minister John Key on his first day leading the country in 2008: "There's nothing like achieving a lifelong dream, though very soon after you realise that the job is just beginning " the hard work to get there is nothing like what's required once you make it. I remember my first day on the job. It was without doubt one of the greatest of my life. It was a mix of sheer joy and a real sense of responsibility."

Lizzie Marvelly. Photo / Doug Sherring
Lizzie Marvelly. Photo / Doug Sherring

There was nowhere I would rather have been.
Lizzie Marvelly

Singer-songwriter Lizzie Marvelly on singing at a 2008 All Blacks test: "On my first day on the job, it didn't just pour, it lashed - almost horizontally. Yet as I stood on the sideline of Wellington's Cake Tin stadium, heart thrumming madly in my 18-year-old chest, there was nowhere I would rather have been. I'd been singing the national anthem since I was 5, but never for hundreds of thousands."

Sir Graham Henry. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Sir Graham Henry. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The better you prepare the better you will perform.
Sir Graham Henry

Former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry on his All Blacks coaching debut in 2004: "It was a dream come true and a real privilege to coach the All Blacks. It had been a goal for a long time and there were times when I thought those bridges were well and truly burnt. I was reasonably ancient, at 58, when I first coached the All Blacks. Age helps. The better you prepare the better you will perform."

Dr David Galler. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Dr David Galler. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Remember this: you've been picked because you're the best; trust yourself and those around you; don't be hard on yourself and most of all savour the occasion.
David Galler

Middlemore intensive care specialist Dr David Galler on his first day working in intensive care at Moto'otua National Hospital in Samoa in 2015: Although I was already a doctor with many years' experience and having worked in difficult circumstances before, I was surprised at how my head, heart and hands raced at the prospect of starting afresh in this new and exotic place.

"I know this feeling," I said to myself, remembering all those other first days from the past. "I understand what it takes to start again with new people, with others looking on," I told myself and quickly my anxiety turned to excitement about this new direction.
Success wasn't reliant solely on my own knowledge and skills, I knew they were fine; it was more about respect and humility, listening and learning and the relationships I build with those I will be working with. On that first morning I reminded myself of all of that as I walked up the stairs to the small ICU.

Like rugby, healthcare is a team sport too. We know the outcome we want, we play by a set of rules and like you we've been well coached. So for those of you on debut pulling on The Jersey for the first time, remember this: you've been picked because you're the best; trust yourself and those around you; don't be hard on yourself and, most of all, savour the occasion.

Sir Jon Trimmer. Photo / David Haxton
Sir Jon Trimmer. Photo / David Haxton

If you are nervous use your breath to control your nerves. It's good for your lungs and it's good for your mind.
Sir Jon Trimmer

Ballet dancer Sir Jon Trimmer on his first show with New Zealand Ballet in 1958: My first show with New Zealand Ballet was in a village on the Hokianga Harbour. It was 1958 and I was 18 years old. I was very lucky. We were doing traditional Danish ballet La Sylphide and I had a nice solo part to do.

But I was very nervous. I've always believed in breathing techniques and my advice - and this goes for anyone, whether on the stage, on the sports field or working in a shop on their first day - if you are nervous use your breath to control your nerves. It's good for your lungs and it's good for your mind.

In retrospect, my first day on the job was nothing compared to what happened on tour the following week, when the steering in one of the the tour vans failed and we went off the road, ending up upside down in a mangrove swamp. The pianist had been sitting next to me, knitting, and she said "nobody leaves this van until I've finished this row". So we didn't move. No one was hurt and we travelled on to Kaeo and did the show. What I learned from that was if you use your mind correctly you can stop people panicking and you can get on and do what you need to do. That was a good lesson so early in my career.

Sir Peter Snell. Photo / Ross Setford
Sir Peter Snell. Photo / Ross Setford

Rather than worrying about how formidable my opponents were, I concentrated on being able to produce my best.
Sir Peter Snell

Triple Olympic champion Sir Peter Snell on his first day as an Olympic runner in 1960: My overriding approach was to get to the starting line in as good a condition and state of mind as possible. This involved relaxing the day before and skipping the opening ceremonies.

Because of the large entry in the 800m an additional round was to be held on the first day. Coach Arthur Lydiard observed that this would suit me more than anyone else because of my strong base of endurance training.

The atmosphere of an Olympic stadium can produce a lot of energy-sapping anxiety, therefore I tried to relax and mentally shut out the stimulating atmosphere. Rather than worrying about how formidable my opponents were, I concentrated on being able to produce my best.

There is an inverted U-shaped relationship between arousal and performance, which means that too much or too little arousal can compromise the athlete's decision-making and level of play. Obviously the appropriate level is dependent on the sport and in warrior games like rugby, players may do better when hyped-up by haka and impassioned speeches by coaches. This never worked for me.

Peter Wolfkamp. Photo / Supplied
Peter Wolfkamp. Photo / Supplied

Our first day was a bit of a disaster ... it all was, for a while, wildly chaotic.
Peter Wolfkamp

The Block NZ site foreman Peter Wolfkamp on his first day on the reality DIY show in 2012: I think the challenges for The Block are unique and filming it poses a series of challenges that are new, exciting and frankly quite scary for everyone involved. So for day one, season one, we were all trying to find our feet - myself included. Our first day was a bit of a disaster. The teams wanted to get working straight away, there was a massive number of staff on site, and it all was, for a while, wildly chaotic. And at a certain point we had to say "stop, take a breath and let's reorganise ourselves".

I suppose age and experience puts a little perspective on these things, so when you're doing something for the first time, or you're new to a role, it's easy to overthink it. My advice to the new All Blacks is if you're good enough to get picked, you're good enough to play. Hold on to that. Say to yourself "I've earned my spot here and I'm going to prove it".

Sir John Kirwan. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Sir John Kirwan. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Running out, listening to your anthem, doing the haka were unbelievable moments I'll never forget.
Sir John Kirwan

Mental health campaigner and former All Black Sir John Kirwan on his test debut against France in 1984: Back then we weren't allowed to get together as a team before noon on the Wednesday before the game, so my first new boy mistake was turning up to the airport in my suit and tie when everyone else was in jeans and T-shirts.

The veteran All Blacks asked me some pretty hard questions like "you've got a choice - you're either here for a week or do you want to be here for 10 years?" I thought I'd made it, but I hadn't done anything. I had a choice to either become a good or a great All Black. I went from this amazing feeling of achievement to thinking "wow, I'm really under pressure to stay here".

My first game was indescribable. Running out, listening to your anthem, doing the haka were unbelievable moments I'll never forget. The elders told me the game would go fast and it did. All of a sudden it was half time and then, b****y h***, it was all over.

My advice for our new All Blacks is to be humble, but have real confidence that you're there because you're good enough. Let the game come to you and play your natural game. And stay in the moment.

Jim Kayes (left). Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Jim Kayes (left). Photo / Norrie Montgomery

And at the end of it, Billy pokes his head around and says, 'good interview mate, but in TV you've got to turn on the microphone'.
Jim Kayes

Sports' broadcaster Jim Kayes on his first day in front of the camera: As a newbie at TV3 I went down to Wellington. Because I knew TV was going to be a challenge for me coming from print, I'd organised some interviews with the All Blacks. One was with Piri Weepu, whose brother, Billy, was the cameraman.

This was my first interview for TV and everything was going well, Piri is sort of chuckling through it, which is not unlike him. And at the end of it, Billy pokes his head around and says, "good interview mate, but in TV you've got to turn on the microphone". Piri thought it was hysterically funny, and I was kind of embarrassed. We had to do the whole thing again. I learned that cameramen have a wicked sense of humour. And I never made the mistake again.

Everything I knew from print was irrelevant in TV. It was such a huge learning curve, it felt like a brick wall. I wouldn't have learned so quickly without so many wonderful people at TV3 who are so supportive of new staff.

My advice for the All Blacks is to enjoy the moment and remember that you got there because you are phenomenally talented, so rely on that talent.

Mel Homer. Photo / Nick Reed
Mel Homer. Photo / Nick Reed


Nerves. Excitement. Mild panic. Extreme panic. More excitement. More panic.
Mel Homer

TV host Mel Homer on her first day as The Cafe co-host this year: What was going through my mind on the first day of The Cafe? Nerves. Excitement. Mild panic. Extreme panic. More excitement. More panic.

What happens if I'm rubbish at this telly thing? As a radio host I am heard and not seen. What happens if I look awful? What happens if I have a weird twitch?

Try and get out of the chair like a lady, Mel. Jeez. You're on nationwide TV. What if the powers-that-be decide I'm just not right for the job after all?

All of these things were going through my head.

Holly, the executive producer on the show, gave me some great advice: "Be yourself, doll. That's why we want you."

I work with the best team and they've allayed my fears. (And so far no weird twitches!) I love my job on The Cafe, and we've all got each other's backs like a jacket.

That would be my advice to the new ABs. Be yourself. And have your teammates' backs like a jacket. Always.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 08 Dec 2016 07:48:22 Processing Time: 662ms