This month’s short blog is a collection of disparate anecdotes and experiences from recent readings and experiences.
I am no fan of the Oscars and cannot abide the duplicitous glamorous falseness that is the American film industry but there is a lesson in humility from the debacle of Sunday night’s award ceremony! For those of you that did not hear it – the Best Picture Award got presented to the wrong film and mid acceptance speech the real winner was announced; cue embarrassing shuffling by the respective parties off and onto stage. Now this is of absolutely no interest or impact to the world in anyway – but it was the headline on both the Radio 2 and Radio 4 news this morning! In this hyperconnected, information driven world, we know a lot about other people, we get real time updates on everything that goes on and goes wrong which means it is easy to be distracted by what ‘other’ people / companies / teams / organisations are doing. This is a trap. This is a distraction. Even 2,000 years ago Marcus Aurelius knew this. “Other people’s mistakes?” he reminded himself “should be left to their makers”. Forget what other people are doing, forget what they’re doing wrong. You’ve got enough on your plate. Focus on yourself – focus on what you might be doing wrong. Fix that. Keep an eye fixed on your own life/team/organisation. There’s no need – and frankly, there’s not enough time – to waste a second worrying about other people.
With the departure of Storm Doris from our shores and the tragic aftermath of last week still fresh in the memory I was reminded of a quote I read recently by Winston Churchill “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” ‘Do not look for comfort. Do not resent challenge or opposition. View it as something that will test you, challenge you and help you grow, rising to the occasion to become a bigger and better version of yourself.’ Daily Stoic I was reminded of this in practice recently when a team within one of my clients won a National Industry Award beating huge competition. What made the award so special was the journey from adversity to triumph – a couple of years ago they were under the cosh and failing to deliver the numbers. The manager in charge, along with the rest of his team were not ones to shirk away from a challenge, they faced into the issues, confronted what was holding them back, accepted blame and took accountability where it was valid in order to get better. They did this with hard work, diligence, great team work and a clear unwavering focus on what was important. The end result was a set of numbers that the business had never seen before and real progress at an individual and team level. The Manager has gone on to receive a promotion with greater rewards and opportunity and a bigger role because he chose to face up to what was needed rather than make excuses!
I recently did my annual talk to the Year 1 children at a local school – ever since I volunteered many years ago when Alice was in that class and she told me they were doing Kenya as a topic, I have been asked back every year to talk. It is always good fun, I am reminded how tiny but noisy 5/6 year olds can be and I get the chance to inspire and motivate a very different generation than I normally spend time with. This year was no exception, I enjoyed teaching them some Swahili, helping them dress in a Kikoi, eating posho and learning to count to 5. The revelation from this experience however, was the wonderful thank you letters I received from all 75 children – now this was clearly a class exercise but the imagination, insight and sense of humour displayed by some of the kids was fantastic. The real insight though is how far a thank you goes and how easy it is to get complacent and forget. It is all too easy to take people, services and life in general for granted. Saying thank you can put a smile on someone’s face and appreciating people will always pay dividends eventually. Above all though – appreciating yourself and being grateful for what you do, who you are and the opportunities you have, will always create energy, enthusiasm and greater confidence. Take the opportunity to thank someone that you may have overlooked today and that includes yourself!
Just some disconnected insights that I hope resonate and make you at least think if not take action!