March 22, 2019

What Do We Crave In Our Work?

It all started one searingly cloudless afternoon in her garden.

Our eldest grandchild was giggling so furiously that she could hardly breathe.
Any minute now, I suspected we’d have to change her nappy.

Granddad would put her little blue Tommy Tippee (or was it Baby Munchkin) sipping cup on the top of the wooden post. Then she would skip to the post, wearing the hugest grin, reach up on tippy-toes, and delight in knocking it off again.

Such a simple, unexpected game.
But one that had the whole family laughing at her laughter uncontrollably for a good five minutes.

Then, just before tiring of this new activity, she came towards me, trying to breathe and speak and laugh all at once. Looking up through tears of joy, she cast her spell on me.

“Silly Granddad!” she squealed.
And that was that.

It didn’t take long for the news to circulate amongst the grandchildren who had already learned to speak.
And my title was immortalised.

The next Summer we were playing with her very-own-kitchen-in-Nana’s-House together, when we fell into the spelling game. Starting with her name.

“So, what is your name, Maya?” I asked
”Maya!” says she proudly, with hands on hips.

“Ah! And what’s my name?” I posed.

At which point she gazed at me, with a surprised face. “You’re name is ‘Granddad’, of course!”

“Yes,” I persisted. “But what’s my first name. You have one; so what’s mine?”

She looked at me as if I was a complete idiot, and said, her arms spread wide: “Your first name is ‘Silly’! You’re Silly Granddad!”

Then dragged me off to concentrate on a bag of marbles.

It often amuses me how much store we place on titles in our business life.
Our business cards proclaim them, after our profusion of qualification-letters.
We beam with pride at them.
We certainly take pains to let the world know about them.
We flaunt them socially, whenever we can.

Yes, of course, it helps to know who is who in the mighty order of things in a growing business.
And it definitely helps when we sketch our business organograms; define our roles and functions.

But it’s about more than that, isn’t it?
It’s oh-so-much more than that.

I recently asked yet another leader of a financial advisory team what he Really, Really, Really wanted.
Which is an emotional and intellectual universe away from simply asking “What do you want to achieve?”

After a moment of silence, where I could hear his mind filtering through the options… he soon came to this one-word conclusion:

That’s it.
I want Recognition.
For who I really am.
And the good that I do.”

How beautifully honest!
I wish more of us were so open.
I wish I was so open more often.

We love our titles and our emblems and our hard-earned, victorious labels.
We clutch at the symbols that show we are recognised.

We don’t just love them… we crave them!

And we do that because we want to feel that our life – and it’s accomplishments – has meaning.
Not just to us. But to those around us.

Oh, that my life will ultimately have meant something worthwhile!” our heart cries.
Against that… financial rewards pale into insignificance.

There can be few titles that will ever have more meaning… hold more joy… than the one born in that Summer’s afternoon of rib-aching laughter.

‘Silly Grandad’ stands head and shoulders above any professional acclamation I have ever received.