An animated conversation between friends about our favourite bands is often a joyful distraction revealing our long lost teenage tribes.
It can also mean stepping into perilous conversations about fashion, big hair and album covers. I am not saying that leg warmers and 80’s power ballads are not culturally significant (obviously!) and all of this deserves several glasses of inexpensive Chardonnay to fuel the debate. However, if instead we were to talk about the song lyrics that made us pause, the conversation might change from one that requires us to open a bottle, to one that opens a small window for the gentleness of fresh air on old feelings.
A song that has always paused my spinning mind in the past, and does so even more today, is U2’s One; it opens with these lines:
“Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame”
What I am about to write I do not say lightly, and not for effect. Neither do I want to underplay my anxiety or anyone’s pain. We all need support, time to heal and time to grow, but if we have one love and we can use it every day, what would be the downside of showing that we care? If we have one love, why would we not use it? Does it not say who we are far more than the trappings of apparent success or apparent failure?
In some respects, this year has been the most difficult year of my career. A business that took nineteen years to build has quietly disappeared in a few months. A business as a balance sheet is an ice sculpture that can melt in front of your eyes.
But of course, this is not the whole picture.
My work is not defined by a set of forms filed at Companies House, or a share certificate or even a brand. My work is the difference we have made to those who have trusted our care. It is the way we try to touch minds, to touch hearts and it is the means for us to celebrate the potential or our clients and delegates to be extraordinary.
A balance sheet is a record of value in only one dimension. However, I can (and do) reflect on all the opportunities our business gives me to see value in so many different dimensions at the same time. This does not diminish the disappointment and pain of loss, but neither does it reduce the joy and diversity of relationships, experiences and emotions. I know that the difference we make is not captured in the cells of an Excel spreadsheet.
Of course, 2020 has not been easy, to say the least, but it has been rich in gifts of reflection, kindness, generosity and care. It has been the year we learned again the power of love to carry each other.
So, when I think of this song, I know that I have one love and I know that things will get better again, but I also know that it doesn’t get easier because you have someone else to blame. Blame would be a distraction, a place to shrink and hide. Blame is an energy I don’t have the time or the desire to ride.
As we face this winter of our disconnect from the people and things we love, it is ok to be disappointed, to be frightened, and to feel exhausted by it all. It is perfectly understandable if we feel all of this viscerally; but even then, we are so much more than these things alone. Even in the dark we can still smile, we can still love, care, share, and ask each other if we are ok.
We may feel that our potential to make a difference is defined by our roles, or job titles; or will be constrained if we find ourselves between roles for now. However, our potential to be extraordinary is revealed in every thoughtful gift of kindness and care, it is not defined by a balance sheet, or another person’s decision that our role must change or be lost. We have one love, and we can use it however we want. No budget is required, no status is required, and no permission is required to care. Our one love is always with us, and is always for us…
“…we’re not the same but we get to carry each other, carry each other. One love.”