This is a tale of a genius who, haven fallen from the height of popularity and influence, somehow pulled out a masterpiece that would ensure his fame would live on forever.  It is the story of how some people remain highly motivated even when everything around them appears to be falling apart.

When George Frederic Handel, wrote the music for The Messiah in 1741 he was almost a broken man and even though it was not initially well received he had the brilliant idea of performing it a few years later for a charity Christmas concert, a decision that proved to be so successful that his work became synonymous with Christmas and has been performed every year at that time ever since.

It’s hard to know where motivation comes from. Everyone I meet seems to find it in different places. I find it reassuring that there are those with such passionate inner belief and personal drive that there is almost nothing that can put them off their purpose in life. In every company and in every project team you will find motivators and de-motivators. It is hard to comprehend any project ever being successful without both because there is little more likely to spell disaster than a bunch of optimists with too many resources.

For me personally, my glass is always somewhere between half and totally full and I go out of my way to persuade those around me that theirs can be too, if they just learnt to see things that way. But my enthusiasm can be misleading and the wise around me know that they are empowered to conjure up potential blocking details. They know too that they will need to think of tactics to overcome them before they dare to present them to me because they have learned from experience that I will not like what they tell me but that I will reluctantly accept it as essential.

And so it is that the very best teams know and understand that diversity is far more than a question of men and women, of rich and poor, of black and white and the acceptance of different religions. Diversity is also to be found in the difference between optimists and pessimists, of motivators and de-motivators, of accelerators and blockers – all are needed in the right mixture and proportions to be sure of delivering innovative projects time after time after time.

So while the optimists tend to focus only on the vision and never let it out of sight, the pessimists only see the things that stand in the way. It is my belief therefore that anything of any sustainable value that needs the work of more than one man or woman, can only ever be created when there both pessimists and optimists present in the team.

Last Saturday I pulled a muscle running up the narrow hilly street that runs from my house to the church. I had just stepped out of the warm into the freezing cold of night and was making double sure that I would not be late for the ‘Messiah’.  My doctor, who very kindly picked up the painful pieces on Sunday morning, tells me that the price I paid was too high for what I received in return, and from where he stands I am sure he’s right. But from my side I would do it all over again if I knew that it was the only way of being certain to hear those glorious violins opening Handel’s masterpiece; still sounding so beautiful and fresh after all these years.

Have a good week

Harley