Core business and an epiphany

I’ve been exchanging some deep and meaningful emails with a couple of friends. Prompted by finding some training notes from sessions held in April 2011, when I was pregnant with Peanut, I shared some of the bullet points from the notes. I found these illuminating because my previous employers heard the same things repeated, at various times, from various specialists, over a number of years, yet carried on regardless. Here are a few from the session:

· “wellitivity” – happy, healthy people are more effective

· Too much sick leave or high turnover, the business is stressed

· Morale is the energy or vibe of the workplace

· Need strong culture to build people up, ‘yes it is tough, but it’s also great!’

This coincided with me been doing some research at work for a project and read Jim Collins’ article on Good to Great. For years where I worked, Senior Managers talked about change and how to manage it. But we lurched from one thing to another, instead of focussing on our core business, what we were good at. What we did better than anyone else in the country, and how the process we followed was lauded as being robust, open, honest and able to be scrutinised under a microscope, but would still be defensible. But.

There is always a ‘but’. This one was pretty big. Putting pressure on your staff to do extra and to work longer, by committing to projects we didn’t have the resources or skills to complete, causing staff to skip bits in the process, rushing work through to meet stupid deadlines; it all takes its toll. Staff leave. Knowledgeable good staff, threw their hands in the air and said ‘stuff this’. Trying to right wrongs from within and getting nowhere, highlighting time and again we can’t go on like this. In the end, you get fed up with banging your head against a brick wall. And boy does it feel good when you stop and walk away.

I am very relieved I am not working where I was working, but I feel for my friends that are still there though. I also feel for my friends that, like me, are still battle scarred from our experiences. Your work should lift you, should enhance your life. It is after all, where you spend the majority of your waking hours. It should not bring your down, deplete you, make you doubt your judgement and dent your confidence.

Change is good. Change is part of life. Without change, we’d still be living in caves. But the companies featured in Jim Collins’ article had no real idea how they changed, in the grand scheme of things. They just knew their long term plans, some taking 21 years for fruition, were their core business. They knew what they could do better than anyone else. So they did it. They did it well, they did it consistently and they kept the wheel in a forward motion by hanging on to that knowledge, while embracing change around them. They didn’t keep cannoning off one idea after another, lurching from project to project; driving their company into a downward spiral trying to be jack of all trades, master of none and taking their eyes off where they were heading.

It was illuminating reading. And I love the info-graphic on the front page of Jim Collins’ website too. It is simple, but very informative.

The emails I’d been swapping with these two trusted confidants reminded me, again, that this is now. Keep looking forward. I also found a couple of quotes on Tumblr last night too:

“Do it now. Sometimes ‘later’ becomes ‘never’”

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never get it.

If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place”

However, my epiphany was this. Real life cannot be found in a handheld device. It came to me in the middle of the night, fully formed. Like someone was whispering it in my ear. Now I’m still working through this. It was honestly like a lightbulb went on over my head. I know some of you will be going, “Well, duh!” But when we rely on emails, Facebook, this blog to communicate with each other, we miss the little things. Like the wind in your hair when you’re having coffee with a friend outside. Or the smell of the beans when you’re having coffee with a friend inside. You miss picking up on the nuances of body language, telling you that despite the answer ‘Fine.’ you know your friend is not fine.

A lot of my cohorts are overseas from where I live. A lot of the people I love are overseas. But my life is here. My son is here, and I do not want him thinking that he is second fiddle to my phone, my iPod, the iPad. I don’t want him to watch endless TV because it makes it easier to get on and do things. I want him to interact with me and have fun along our parenting journey. I don’t want him to be told ‘In a minute’ like one parent did playing candy crush when I went to get a coffee this morning.

I rely on the interweb to keep up with friends. It is the twenty first century after all, you cannot avoid it. But you can limit it. I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. There is a bigger world outside Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter et al. Come find me in it.

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