The Things You Can Do With A Jug of Gravy!
I was having a good day until then.
Such a good Saturday.
Volunteering in the kitchens and restaurant of this stunningly beautiful, gleaming white church building, with surrounding English Country Gardens, near Lingfield, Surrey.
Actually volunteering to be bossed around by my wife, Wendy; since this is one of the departments that her team manages.
I had offered to personally take the fresh jug of gravy to the table of that American family, visiting for just a couple of weeks.
I was in one of those moods where nothing was too much trouble.
Then, as I approached their table, the father looked at me and said, “We had such terrible problems getting here by your M25 motorway. It was one long traffic jam!”
So, I waited for the question.
You know. The question.
And there it was. Bang on queue.
“Tell me,” said the smiling father, with eyebrows-raised wife and brilliantly-toothed, fresh-faced teenagers, looking at me expectantly. “Why do they not invest in more and wider motorways here?”
To which, I responded with my sweetest smile.
You see, I had prepared a set of four hopefully-pithy answers to this sublimely naive question just a few months previously.
Spoken through clenched teeth, they would have sounded like this:
“Well, good sir…
Thankfully, we don’t have quite enough mindless bureaucrats determined to lay waste to 1,000 year old picturesque, history-replete villages, in order to extend our ribbon of roads;
We’re continuing to invest in a (admittedly-imperfect) public transport system, which probably works a tad better than yours ever will;
Our green and verdant island is crammed with enough people eager to keep it green and verdant, rather than coated in a sea of concrete and asphalt;
You’ll find this rather quaint but, this particular Christian community still manages to focus its worship on the Almighty God… rather than the Almighty Automobile.”
I could have said that, couldn’t I?
But I didn’t.
Instead, I allowed the delicious temptation to pour the whole jug of gravy over his smiling head…
to swell and rise and dissipate, until near innocence and brotherly love returned.
Then I said, “It is such a challenge, isn’t it?
Meanwhile… Have A Nice Day!”
Are we English also that arrogant when we visit other nations?
In one of his many piercingly wise books ‘Primary Greatness: The 12 Levers of Success’, business philosopher Stephen R Covey points to Humility and Courage as two foundational sources of character greatness.
Yet Humility is probably the character quality most lacking in business – and life – today.
Indeed, much of our society’s behaviour encourages anything but Humility.
We glory in our drive and aggression, and our ability to create More and Bigger and Faster And Cheaper.
Without taking more than a sideways glance at the damage our supposed intellectual and technological superiority does to every wondrous creature and creation around us.
When all is said and done (as one day it will be), with all of our strutting and braying, our track record on this planet shows that we’re really not that bright a species after all.
And this plays out humorously in business leadership.
As a coach, I’ve lost count of the number of leaders (all of them bright, creative, technically competent, charming, caring, charismatic folk) who blissfully gallop away…
leaving a trail of dismay, despondency and damage in the lives of their team.
There seems to be a blind spot in the small-to-medium (SME) business sector as to what Brilliant (even Half-Effective) Leadership looks like.
Humility is a rare sight.
And the Courage to Change Our Ways is even rarer.
Thankfully, we can change this.
Indeed, we must change this!
We can create businesses where everybody loves coming to work, because the Leader actually knows how to lead.
And does so, with Humility and Courage.
Businesses where everybody is encouraged to apply leadership qualities, no matter what their title, position or shareholding.
Businesses where “Fulfilment” and “Contribution” and “Meaningful” and “Life-Enhancing Work” are part of our vocabulary and our reality.
In fact, our coaching team (yes, The Soul Millionaire is not just about me) has set this as our Mission over the next 5 years… and beyond.
“To Create A Movement of Leaders With The Capacity To Transform People’s Lives”
Sounds rather grand, doesn’t it?
But it’s already happening.
And it will grow in force.
Whilst the legacy we’re leaving as Mankind (with our plastic bags et al) is generally highly questionably…
The legacy of our business need not be just flogging our ‘book of clients’ to the highest-bidding acquisitive group.
We can develop a better-than-we-were Next Generation, if only we take the trouble to find out how.
We can leave behind a collection of people who can elevate what we started.
It starts with the quality of our Leadership, whatever our role.
When we get it right, Mankind and our business community will be so much better off.