What matters…

October 2, 2022

Life events challenge settled thinking. It is a cliché I know, but then that only serves to prove the point rather than to undermine it.

I am not now going to write about seizing the day, or encouraging anyone to tell their boss what they really think, or resigning to swim with dolphins. If these things float your boat, go fill your boots. However, my clichéd challenge to my settled thinking is a little more unnoticed than these things.

One of the joys of my work is the freedom to explore potential. I am not always sure how it happens, but I believe we create a quiet pause for people to hear their own thoughts. This is the start of understanding what we might need in order to succeed at being ourselves. I am very lucky to be in the room with people when they see that their potential is something that they can truly own.

However, for the last little while I have been worried about whether this is enough. I am not too sure how much longer I will be able to persuade people to take a chance on discovering something important about themselves, or whether the dash for rolling out formulas, frames, models and modules will mean we slip away from company budgets and your curiosity to know how we can all make our difference.

In the last few weeks I have wondered if it really mattered. Was I still doing it because it was what I have always done and what others expected of me? Or was I doing it because it still mattered? I apologise if this sounds a little self-indulgent. It is self-indulgent, but I want to share this thought because I suspect that sometimes we all wonder whether what we do really matters.

So, spoiler alert… It matters, but it is the way we do something, not the thing itself, that matters the most.

The space we allow others to occupy, and the words we respect even when we disagree with them, and the love we give to the people in our world and to their ideas, allows that love to live on even when we move on.

My reflection is that what we do to make a living matters less (this is just a contractual arrangement of which there will be many) but what we do to make living worthwhile is everything.

Recent life events have challenged my settled thinking. My settled thinking had become a little lost in an equation of effort and output, when it should have been nothing of the sort.

My job is not to monetise your potential. It is to let your ideas roll and to trust they will find places to rest. Ideas should roll without any commercial ambition, and be allowed to either thrive or to gently fall when the energy in them has gone.

My job is not to be the perfect font of guidance, but to have the courage to make a new mistake every day and to accept how vulnerable this may make me feel. Wisdom does not come from certainty, but from vulnerability.

My job is to make others feel that what they do matters.

The existential loss of a familiar routine through the pandemic, or the loss of a guiding north star, or the grinding rebuilding of a business when things do not go to plan, are all life events that challenge settled thinking.

I do not welcome the loss, which I know will remain raw and profoundly sad for some time to come. I also wish it were easier to rebuild a business held back by so much disruption; but thank goodness for the challenge to settled thinking and the opportunity to remind myself of really matters to me.

Take care. Paul xx

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