March 19, 2020

Reasons To Be Happy

She had one of those lovely, delicate faces which are beautiful from the inside.
I imagine, so very beautiful mere years ago.
Although now framed with gently-waved gossamer hair as white as snow.

And there was sadness stretched across her mouth.
Pain in those crinkled, tearful eyes.
She turned to her husband – every inch matching her snowy head – who then softly said:
”What On Earth Is Going On?!”

The picture of them broke my heart at 8:10 am this Monday morning, at the entrance to Sainsbury’s.

Following their line of sight, I groaned at what was happening in front of us.
Locusts, stripping every shelf bare.
Stripping them with a quiet, brutal determination that I found almost frightening.

Except these weren’t locusts. They were people.
Supposedly ordinary, good people.

And what they were doing looked selfish to the point of crassness.
Greedy to the point of meanness.

Later, in Aldi’s, the checkout operator looked up from her scanning-and-beeping…
… trying hard to smile, she looked at the man in front of me…
”Four chickens? Eight bottles of shampoo? Really? Sorry, sir.”

And quietly, efficiently, she put half of them in a box beside her till.

These are strange – for most of us, incomprehensible – times.
Times which educate us about what it might feel like, living in times of global war.
(Except today, most of us can’t see the enemy.)

Times which portray extremes of human behaviour.
The ugliness.
The beauty.

In our road, neighbours are watching out for neighbours.

A touching note of concern was dropped through my letterbox this morning.
Apparently, someone thinks I’m in a ‘Vulnerable Group’!
Which makes me feel most special.

Our nation’s treasured culture is being placed under pressure; under question.
In some, we observe the light of humanity being drawn to the surface, to brighten those around them.
In others, we see darkness; and actions which stain us with shame.

Culture can lift us – in life; in business.
But only when we tend and nurture it consciously.

If we’re careless (or – worse still – if we have no idea how to design, create and develop it)…
The culture in our firms can cause our people to behave in ways – insidious ways – which we never intended.
The Stanford University Prison Experiment demonstrates that graphically.

On the other hand…

Yesterday, I conducted a Podcast Interview which lifted my spirits and made me exclaim.
This was a conversation with a leader whose 78-strong team is nationally renowned for its exciting culture.
She described a place where creativity and future-leadership is fostered; where fulfilment, passion and meaning are cultivated.

What a business to be part of each week!

Today, I thoroughly enjoyed the morning’s coaching session with a leader, carrying the weight of people’s livelihood on his shoulders.
At one point we started to laugh at ourselves.
Much wheezing and side-aching took place.

That laughter preceded a clarity of thinking, which helped him to solve, magnificently, what had seemed so weighty before.
Now clients, and the team, will be blessed by that clear-thinking, compassionate, value-filled leader.

This week, I’ve communicated with each of our 5 grandchildren.
Sights and conversations only made possible by the age that they live in.
(Our 17-days old grandson being in Australia does make babysitting a premium activity)

Just watching them rejoicing in their existence caused me to gasp loudly with sheer delight.

The older ones might be sent home from school.
But, at least they’re blessed with good schools to come home from.
Home to parents who adore them.
Home to meals and water and entertainment galore.

I pray that I don’t minimise what’s happening.
These are difficult, stressful times.

But in our free and blessed society…
There really are…
Reasons To Be Happy.