December 3, 2020

Your Team Needs You to Do This!

I was aware that I wasn’t breathing properly.
Standing there. Letting memories wash over me.

We were busily clearing out the ‘stuff of life’ from our attic.
Except, my busyness was paralysed. Forgotten.

I didn’t know I’d kept the three broken parts of that arrow.
But there they were, all three laughing at me from that dull cardboard lid, on a wet Winter’s day.

That arrow.
Reminding me.

Reminding me that I’d just walked out of a very comfortable financial planning role.
Taking the insane, penniless decision to be an author… and speaker… and full-time coach.

Making it all up as I went along.
”Barmy” doesn’t quite cover it.

Somehow, I found myself on a two day course/workshop/wotsit.
Somewhere foreign (Manchester?)
And now I wondered what I was doing.
In this place.
About to do this thing.

This dicing-with-imminent-death thing.

But I’d signed the injury disclaimer. And pride and courage were both on the line.
Others had waxed lyrical – and emotional – about their hot-coals walk.
But this act would put me in the ‘certifiable’ bracket!

My eager partner put the metal-tipped arrow to my throat.
No really. This long, wooden arrow.
To my throat!

Then, holding the arrow still and horizontal…
…with the gentle pressure of a wooden board at the ‘flight’ end.

They gazed, smiling and slowly, gently nodding, into my eyes, and whispered…
”Are you ready to do this?”

I can’t describe the How and What of the next 10 seconds.
All I know is this:
Under their slow, steady, leaning, relentless pressure…
The arrow broke.
Shattered neatly into 3 pieces.

I kid you not!
(I remember wanting to cry. Sob.)

In those 10 seconds I learned lessons you’d find hard to digest by completing the next business book on your list.

I learned about risk.
I learned about “Impossible”.
I learned how much we belittle, underestimate and doubt ourselves.
I learned a little more about faith.
About the wonder of who we are.
And what we’re capable of doing.

I notice leaders doing this too often.
With their team members.

Having woefully underestimated the wonderful beings working with them…
They manacle those folk with their own fear of risk and failure.

They haven’t created the culture which allows team members to try a new way.
They haven’t quite worked out how to reward them for experimenting…
And getting it wrong. Failing safely.
Not yet, anyway.

There’s not a safe space for support teams and advisers to question the thinking of the firm.
That culture is not yet ingrained.
Not yet.

They’ve not taught each team member how to challenge their own thinking.
Nor how to embrace challenges beyond their current skills.
Not yet.

Of course…
It is possible that the arrow will pierce their throat.
Or, metaphorically, the sky will fall in.

Then again, maybe we could ask better questions.
Because questions open doors to better thinking.
Questions like…

How Can I Create a Courageous Environment Where My Team Can Smash Arrows With Their Throats?
And Perform Other Miracles?”