Oh dear, I’ve had my first mini blog-row with Ian (husband). Which went something along the lines of me asking for feedback, him saying the post (the two feet one) was disjointed and rather boring, and me getting cloth ears about it. However, the good news is that he has nearly finished pruning the pear trees.
So on with the next post then.
Now I do seem to quite often start a blog post by referencing Alison Chisnell’s HR Juggler blog, and this is no exception. Alison recently wrote about an outdoor development course she once did in northern Scotland, and about the leadership lessons she took from that experience. That reminded me of something.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Now, I have to rewind a bit here. So, you may or may not know, but I have done a little bit of sailing over the last 12 years. Back in 2003 I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend and his son to go sailing for two weeks in northern Scotland. It was an awesome trip: I got to be skipper on alternate days, and one of the highlights was navigating from Barra in the Outer Hebrides over to St Kilda. St Kilda is a collection of huge lumps of rock, with some sneaky beaky defence people plus some woolly jumpered nature folks, and one pub (The PuffInn), and shitloads of gannets (literally): all heaped together 60 miles off the Scottish mainland.
I’ve gone off track. Sorry.
Back to outdoor adventure schools
My friend’s son had worked as an instructor at John Ridgeway’s Adventure School. I think that this was one of the first such outfits in this country. John Ridgeway is an ex para, who has done all kinds of amazing things in his life, and he started the centre 40 years ago. I’m not sure if this is the same place as where Alison’s rock climbing took place. But it may have been.
I’m finally getting to the point
My friend and his son showed me (they told me too, but more than that, they showed me) that what they’d learnt from John was not just an ability to be very tough and resilient, but they’d learnt a saying that John had:
Always leave people and places better than you found them.
We had chartered a yacht for our 2 weeks. Charter yachts are like hire cars. They are never perfect. Stuff on boats always goes wrong – mainly because there’s lots of metal parts that are in contact with sea water and banging about a lot. Not a good recipe. And no one loves a hire boat, right? People usually leave them in a bit of a state at the end of a trip, and hand in a list of complaints to the charter company about things that don’t work. But one thing I noticed with my friends was that during the trip they would fix stuff. Mend a broken handle, put gaffer tape on a sticky out bit of metal. That kind of thing. And whilst working away, they’d mutter “always leave people and places better than you found them‘. And at the end of the holiday, we did a super job of cleaning the boat.
Why I like it
I found that saying memorable. I don’t think it’s trite. It’s just a positive, helpful attitude to have. And it is practical too. It’s stuck with me ever since. And it is something that I try to think about in my work. I’m never been one to stay more than 4 years in a job: I like variety and I like exploring. But I really do hope that I do my little bit to leave people and places where I work better than I found them.
Postscript: to avoid another blog-row I must add that Ian will, quite rightly, state that I do not practice what I preach when it comes to cooking. The washing up situation afterwards is NOT better than I found it.