March 19, 2021

The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn

The man staring at me looked like the wreck of the Hesparus.
Drawn. Exhausted. Grim.

Except, the man looking back at me… was ME!

Streaming eyes, sore throat, running nose. And a thumping head.
All that, as I stumbled away from one eye-boggling Zoom conversation too many.

Desperate for sympathy, I turned to Wendy.

”I can’t do this. This project I’ve dreamed up.
It’s soooo big and complicated!
Far too many moving parts and relationships.

What on earth am I going to do?”

And this is the part that annoys me intensely.
The part where she says something inordinately sensible.
And I get zero sympathy!

“Well, you could start with a good night’s sleep and some paracetamol.
You know what happens when you get yourself in a tizzy.
Your back goes, and you develop ‘flu’ symptoms.

Tomorrow you’ll wake up and start thinking clearly.
You know you can do this!”

So, I did.
And I do.
And I can.

Four weeks later I’d let go of leading multiple projects.
I’d also let go of having to come up with the best ideas, every month. Every day.

I realised that there were 12 people around me – mostly clients – who could do both at least as well as me!
And they were volunteering to do just that.
And they did.

Then, today – as I was about to leave for lunch – I received a call from a Managing Director of an industry-leading services firm.
He’d love to see what he could do to help us fulfil the Mission Impossible I’d dreamed up in my moments of ‘Completely Bonkers’!

Sometimes, Life can be rough, because people can be mean.
But sometimes, Life pushes you into a dark pit, so that you can (re)learn what it takes to clamber out.

Perhaps, what it takes is you realising that it’s acceptable to reach out for help; to grasp a hand.
Or recognising that the genius in your business doesn’t need to constantly flow from you.
Or admitting to yourself that you’re only Superman in your wildest dreams.

Or facing up to the fact that you’re surrounded by folk who have native talents you’ll never develop. Ever.
And that your responsibility – if you’re to lead them somewhere better – is to discover what those are.

I recall a tender scene from that captivating film ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’.

Everyone, including the inept manager Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), thought that the hotel (for retirees) was insolvent.
Until, Muriel (Maggie Smith) – having investigated the hotel’s accounts – declares: “Yes, the hotel can work. Just not in the hands of a lunatic!”

There are times – and areas of Life – where each of us is a lunatic.
Our worst enemy.

And no more so than when we choose to start a business and/or lead a team.

But if we can just leave our ego at the door…
And access the genius of others…

Then we can see through the darkness of difficult moments.
We can see clearly that each darkest hour could be there to change us.
To herald a brighter dawn.
(Especially for those saddled with the unenviable task of working with us!)