Should we wear gardening clothes to work?

November 15, 2020

Dominic Cummings has, for now, left his role as the Prime Minister’s controversial senior advisor.

Much will be written, a lot of it by Mr Cummings himself.

It may never be wholly clear* if his contribution to public life was a force for good, or just the predictable and self-destructive life cycle of another inadequate contrarian.

I think it is important however that we do not judge others without first knowing what it is like to walk in their shoes. I do not therefore judge Mr Cummings, but reflect instead on some of the things I believe to be true about me.

For example, if I were to write down one hundred “radical” ideas, I would hope that one or two of them might have a fighting chance of being interesting, perhaps of even happening one day. However, it would also be true that in no known universe would this make me a genius. Indisputably it would be fairer to say that I had written ninety-eight ideas that were well intended but in a range from not original, to dull, to embarrassingly shite.

If I were to wear my gardening clothes to work, when everyone else was expected to wear smart business attire, then in most people’s eyes I would not be a troubled rebel, striking out against an overbearing dress code designed to inhibit my neurologically diverse thinking. It is much more likely to be the case that I am, in fact, an attention seeking arse.

If I have to criticise everyone around me who does not fit my world view, then I had better be right ALL of the time. For example, if we are tossing a coin, and if I call heads and heads it is, then my rightness is irrefutable. It may be irritating to be told “I told you it would be fucking heads, you fucking idiots” but you cannot argue with the result. However, if we are not tossing a coin, but instead (let’s say) embarking upon the most economically significant and geo-politically divisive event of our lifetimes, then it might be nice to see a little evidence of the upside to help everyone accept my idiosyncratic and expletive filled determination to change the world.

On a similar point, if I had been tempted to splash a little paint on the side of a bus to describe one of my two really cool radical ideas, I might also have worked on an inclusive, well-crafted and comprehensive implementation strategy to answer the all too predictable follow up question.

And perhaps, if I were to suddenly walk away from a mess that I had helped create, I would not expect to be seen as the personification of tragic, misunderstood ennui, as I walk from my office, holding a cardboard box of metaphorical pathos. I think it more likely that I would be seen as a truculent knobhead.

I realise I am describing myself in these points, and it is unfair to extrapolate more widely, but there could be wider truths in such reflections.

Could it possibly be, for example, that if we over-rely on an idea and forget the importance of being kind, generous, thoughtful, considerate and patient, we might not make as much progress as we would like to make?

Could it be, for example, that if we invest in our own image at the expense of how other people feel around us, then when we need those people to step in for us, they might all have taken a step away?

And could it be that if we constantly promote a sense of our own infallibility, that no-one will give a flying saucepan lid when we become predictably fallible.

Take care. Paul xx

*it is pretty clear.

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