Hello! I’ve been absent for much of 2016 and 2017. It’s possible that some of you have noticed. If you are interested in learning more about this absence then I invite you to read the second half (“My Story Told As Briefly As I Can Tell It”) of a conversation I posted on The Customer & Leadership Blog.
I say it feels great to be back in communication with you. Being away has allowed me to realise that I created a trap for myself and for you. What trap? THE trap. The trap of calling this series of conversations: Playing BIG. The issue. You and I find ourselves arising from and living amidst a specific time/place. Where I live, we take playing BIG to point out at things like: becoming a captain of industry, writing a best-selling novel, becoming a superstar/celebrity, making millions, ending world hunger …… You get the idea.
You may be saying to yourself “What’s the problem with that?”. There is no problem with that if that is what playing BIG means to you and right now you are in action acting in/on the world to cause that to happen. Whilst there is no problem, there is a trap. The trap is that almost all of us feel inadequate, and/or show up for ourselves as small/insignificant is such complex world. For almost all of us playing BIG (as I have described above) is wishful thinking at best. For others it likely occurs as the latest claptrap.
Today, I am committed to cutting through that. I say that when I step outside of my self-centred concerns, put aside my fears, and act – help others – I am playing BIG. Allow me to share with you the actions that I have taken that show up for me as playing BIG in the way I show up & travel:
- I make it my business to call my friend Richard once a week to say “Hello! How are things? How are you doing? How’s your wife doing? When/what are the latest results of your chemo treatment?” And I listen – really listen.
- I make it my business to go see my friend Richard. We go for a walk. I walk by his left hand side so that he can bump into me not the lamppost etc, the brain tumour has knocked out his left vision in both eyes. We have lunch together. We talk about our history working together at Peppers & Rogers, we talk about what we are dealing with today, we talk about the future that cancer holds for us. Last week, we happened to talk about our childhoods and I learned that we are both Lancastrians – he grew up in Ormskirk and I grew up in Preston. Small world!
- The other week, I got a call from my neighbour (Charles) whilst I was in the midst of doing business work whilst working from home. He urgently needed a lift to get somewhere important. I dropped what I was doing even though the business-ey part of me objected as that work had a deadline. Instead I said “Give me five minutes”. Then I drove him to where he needed to go, waited in my car, then drove him back.
- Yesterday, my oldest son (22 years old) was telling me off for not taking up shirts that my wife had ironed and left hanging on the chairs in the dining room. I said “Please don’t tell me how to live in my home. I pay for it, you are a guest!” He expressed his frustration (not so politely) with me. So I took the shirts and hung them up in my bedroom. A little later in the kitchen I mentioned how he and I used to watch the Lion King together when he was young. His response was something to experience: angry, telling me off, swearing, walking away in a huff. What I noticed was hurt – deep hurt arising in me. Then I noticed the anger/rage rising up. Noticing it, I decided to play BIG and let it go. He’s still a kid, and maybe (just maybe) he’s having a bad day. Or maybe he got hurt earlier, got angry with me…. Like I was in the process of doing with him.
- At work, I called it as I saw it. I knew that calling it as I say it would upset some powerful people. And that I would pay a price. Fully aware of the consequences I chose to play BIG – calling it as I saw it despite the pressure (from the powerful) to be a ‘team player’, to not ‘rock the boat’… Whilst some of the powerful did not appreciate me ‘rocking the boat’ several members of the client did value the course of action I took as it is the one that puts the interests / wellbeing of the client at the centre.
- This one took the most from me. I allowed my wife to accompany me to the visits to cancer specialists. This may not be a big deal for you, it is a huge deal for me. I grew up under a tyrannical father. And I made it through my childhood by not disclosing weakness – any weakness, and doing that which needed to be done on my own without counting on others. So to arrive at a place where I could be ok with my wife accompanying me really took something. Ask my wife!
I hope you get that which I am pointing at. None of these actions have made a dent in the universe – the universe is oblivious to my existence. Having said this, I am clear that the way I showed up & travelled has made some kind of dent in the lives of my friend, my neighbour, my son, members of my client. That’s good enough for me.
Lets part company today with this question: “What are the little actions that you/i can take now/today that make a difference in the lives of others – your family members, your neighbours, your friends, the folks you work with at work?”
I invite you/me/us to play BIG. It’s not the only way to live and I do not claim that it is the best way to live. I do say that it is a GREAT way to live – I talk from my own experience.
Thank you for your listening.
As my French family say: A la prochaine!