Monthly Archives: January 2014

//January

It ain’t necessarily so

For those readers familiar with the song will know it comes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, written in 1935, (it’s hard to imagine that it is quite so old). But when you come to think of it, the title expresses something much deeper and incredibly important.

Us humans like to discuss and debate, we like challenge our elders and go our own way. Some of us are argumentative for the sake of being argumentative while others choose to remain quiet and seemingly compliant. But once in a while, you come across rare people that really live up to the song; people that instead of automatically taking a contrary position, actually look much deeper into what they see and hear. Only after serious contemplation do they begin the creative process of questioning the nature of what they have learned.

These people are often called visionaries because out of their reasoning springs new ideas, new concepts and new ways forward.

Inventors, poets, artists, marketing men and women, scientists, philosophers – you name it, to the creative people that enrich any team, the song ‘it ain’t necessarily so’ is their reality. They are not saying something is right or wrong, they are just saying – there’s another way to look at things. And once they realize this they can enhance our world with something that wasn’t there before.

Have a good week,

Harley

PS Click on the photo to hear a rather beautiful version of the song by Aretha Franklin

2016-11-17T08:24:15+00:00 1 Comment

Do you think you can reach your life’s goal?

Last week I finally got around to doing something that I should have done a long time ago. I must admit I felt a little uneasy when I climbed the stairs to the area where my assessment would take place. The interviewer opened with the usual questions; name, age, background, so far so good.

He asked about my business, about my current salary. He did the usual thing by explaining about the company; its, vision, mission, assets and staff etc. Well at least as much as his intellect could handle (because to be quite honest, I do not mean to be unkind but he didn’t come over as being the sharpest tool in the woodshed). And then he switched the conversation towards me
He asked something which completely surprised me. “Tell me Harley, what is it exactly that you want to achieve, I mean what is your goal?”

My head went into full spin. I thought about all kinds of things and then again nothing at all – I mean what do I want? What would be success for me?

“Do you know, I am not exactly sure” I replied. My interviewer looked disappointed. He had that kind of look that said ‘Harley you really should know these things, you really should come better prepared’. So to help him out I said. All I know is that I would like to feel a bit fitter, to have a bit more inner energy. Over the last weeks and months I have felt it slowly slipping away.

“Hmm” he said, then he stood up and showed me around, giving me detailed descriptions of all the facilities. He showed me rooms full of equipment and for no apparent reason, also large empty ones. Finally, when we arrive back at the top of the stairs where I came in, he asked “Well Harley do you think you can achieve your goal here with us?”

I had to fight back the smile, this guy was serious! I was in a rundown fitness center, in the middle of town, talking to a guy called Greg whose clothes had the look that, long ago, they had once belonged to someone else, a few sizes bigger than him. And judging by his inability to explain anything to a level of detail necessary to satisfy my enquiring mind, he had probably left school before the age of twelve. Which I didn’t think was allowed these days?

Still I signed on the dotted line and today I find myself pounding away on a machine they call a ‘cross trainer’ situated in what they call the ‘Miha Circle’. I am waiting for the bubbles to stop rising to the top of a plastic tube in the middle, thereby indicating it is time for me to move on to the next piece of equipment.

There’s a lady in her early sixties on my right, thrashing away at her machine with a level of fitness akin to that of a young boxer training for the Olympics. To my left, there's another man about the same age as me looking like he’s having no fun at all. Whether he, or I will achieve our life goal in the fitness gym of my home town, only time will tell. But then again perhaps in the hours of physical self-punishment and immense boredom, I might just find what my life goal is and if I find it – I will let you know, assuming you are interested!

Have a good week,

Harley

2016-11-17T08:24:16+00:00 3 Comments

To Tweet or not to Tweet, that is the question!

When I am given professional advice, I like to stick to it but this time I am not so sure. I have been advised to Tweet far more regularly.  If I do, it will not only increase my existing workload but also how I go about my daily life, I believe… – and for what?

I am told that I need to increase the number of my followers on Twitter and in order to do this I need to Tweet at least once per day, in fact I should be tweeting whenever I see or hear anything interesting.

Reality is that almost all through the day I am seeing and hearing interesting things, my life is extremely varied: one minute I am interviewing a potential new Associate, the next I am looking at a painting or discussing.

Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Or maybe I am in my garden building a new shelter for our latest batch of chickens. Or maybe I am working at a client on a topic that although interesting, I am sure they would not want me publicizing via Twitter!  The tricky bit seems to be that when I am doing these things I am not thinking about who would be interested in what I am doing. And to make that switch, I think would be difficult.

So my strategy must be, I suppose, to focus on a certain cluster of topics and Tweet them in the hope that they may be of interest to a definable group of people, rather like advertising? But to do this I would need to consciously narrow down my thought processes and be constantly on the lookout for material to keep my ‘followers’ nourished.

Another thing my advisors tell me is that when someone comments on my blog or on Facebook or Twitter, I should reply back immediately. I used to try and do that but eventually I found myself in conversations that demanded a great deal of time and often spiraled into a meaningless dialogue between two people that may have better been served by a phone call, or even better still , a meeting.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love it when people comment (it inspires me to keep writing) and I hope that it inspires others to comment too – but Twitter, I humbly ask you, what’s your opinion?  Should I Tweet or not and if so when and how often?

I see that Richard Branson Tweets – but I am told that he doesn’t do it himself but a PR specialist does it in his name. If this is true – what’s the point?

Please help me if I am missing something here.

Have a good week,

Harley

2016-11-17T08:24:16+00:00 10 Comments

Mind the Gap!

Anyone who is familiar with London’s underground railways system will know the warning ‘mind the gap’. It alerts travelers of the space between the platform and the train. However, I find it a very useful tool for the warning of gaps in both communication and expectation management.

To handle communication first. Experience has taught me that most of us spend a great proportion of our lives trying to make ourselves clear.  It’s as if we say one thing but our recipients hear something very different.  ‘Mind the Gap’ can be a useful reminder to prompt us to ask the right questions to be sure we are correctly understood.

But ‘Mind the Gap’ works equally well to warn us of the gap between what we hoped to achieve and where we find ourselves.  Disillusion, as it is commonly referred to, is often the result of poor expectation management and its de-motivational consequences can absorb enormous amounts of energy to overcome.

The writer Zoe Heller uses ‘Mind the Gap’ in her book ‘Notes on a scandal’ (also a very fine film by the way).  In her case the character ‘Sheba’ (in the film played brilliantly by Kate Blanchett) tells us that her father reminder her to ‘mind the gap’ between her dreams and her reality.

So, I think that, the things that we should look out for in life are not necessarily the deep philosophical issues, over which we often have little self-control, but the small day to day stuff like not being understood or not managing the expectations of others.

Hoping I touched a shared thought?

Have a good week,

Harley

2016-11-17T08:24:16+00:00 2 Comments

Getting through 2014

Because some people have accused me for being too serious, and indeed I guess I can be at times, I thought that with Christmas behind us and our New Years’ eve parties too – perhaps it’s a good idea to think of something really funny to hang onto during 2014? So the question is what?

Me, I like silly jokes, especially ones that take me deliberately down an unexpected path, how about this one I heard recently?

2014-01-01T06:35:35+00:00 1 Comment