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What is your Toffee Hammer?

A personal story...

This is story about your future life...

When I was a child I would go to stay with my grandmother in a small town in Yorkshire, England, and walk across the town to a shop on the corner of a terraced house street, amongst many other streets of terraced houses. My Great Uncle and Godfather lived there, and ran the corner shop, that could not have been much more than twelve feet wide twelve feet deep. He sold cigarettes, tobacco, and sweets!

I would turn up and spend a day with my Uncle, and help him out in the shop. I now realise he gave me several gifts for my life. The first was how to make one teabag last all day long, but that is not really relevant for this story.

The second was his toffee hammer. I would be there helping him in the shop, and in the cabinet on the side was a tray of good old fashioned toffee, which was rock solid, and needed to be broken up with a brass hammer in order to serve the customers. This was his toffee hammer.

My Uncle sadly passed away when I was a teenager, working in his shop until his last days. I recall going with my father to close down the shop, and it is fair to say there was not much by way of an inheritance, other than his bureau that sits in my lounge, and the toffee hammer that my father kept for many years, and passed to me a few years ago. So there it is sitting on my desk now. (The picture shows the actual hammer, and the photo created by my son Harry.)

Let me now tell you about a good friend of mine, Rob, who happens to be the husband of the best friend of my lovely wife, Mel. They have been friends since their first school day. Now, Rob has always loved boats. I have never known anyone to love boats and sailing so much. Rob has always tried to work near boats and has run his own successful business, then held down a great job running a boatyard.

A few years ago Rob mentioned in passing that he was taking some exams, which surprised me a little, and I remember feigning interest, and probably moving the chat along to the rugby, or his next sailing trip. Then a few years later I realised that Rob had been retraining as a Yacht Surveyor, and had now resigned his job, and was open for business. (The reality was that like all small businesses the phone didn't ring at first and he even admitted spending a whole day watching a spider spin a web on the window by his desk at home.)

We were chatting to Rob about his new venture and what the job of a yacht surveyor entails, and with some jest we boiled the job down to walking around a boat tapping it’s hull with a small hammer, known in the trade as a ‘toffee hammer’. They do this to check if the hull is solid, and there is no osmosis in a fibreglass hull. What a lovely image we now had of our good friend Rob, just walking around boats, going 'tap, tap, tap' with his little toffee hammer. Tap, tap, tap….Tap, tap, tap…

It was around this same time that my Dad moved home and kindly gave me the toffee hammer from my Uncle and Godfather, and it soon took on a new meaning to me, after a conversation with my wife Mel, that went something like this:

Me: "do you know, I am really jealous of Rob"

Mel: "why?"

Me: "well, Rob has found his toffee hammer"

Mel: "what do you mean?"

Me: "well, Rob has something he loves - boats, and has trained to do a job that he loves – surveying boats, and now Rob can now go on tapping boats and crawling inside and out for as long as his mind and body will allow....

…and while I have got a great job, I know it will end when my employer decides, and then... what will I do?”

Mel: "so what are you going to do about it?"

Me: "I am going to find my toffee hammer!"

And so, that's why I went on a search to find something I can do that I really enjoy, and something I can do, I hope, until the day I decide that I want to stop, not when my employer has just had enough of me.

So, I went back to school and learned to become a coach. Coaching is now 'My Toffee Hammer' and every day when I pick up my Uncle’s brass hammer, I remember what this means to me: my family, my friends, my wife, and my purpose.

It is something I can do for a long time to come if you will let me, and it’s something I can dial up and dial down as I also explore other jobs or assignments, or even take time out to just explore the world at large. I will always know that I have my toffee hammer back at home on my desk


If you are interested in finding your toffee hammer...well give me a call, and let’s see what we can find.

Now I am wondering which of my sons will want to take the hammer on.


Steve Lewis

Mob: +44 7768 578000


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1 comentário

Love the toffee hammer story, equally touching and insightful.

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