Report on the breakfast talk “Survival of the Misfit” given by John Hodge on 28th October 2015.
Thanks are due to Hymans Robertson for kindly hosting the event and providing a light breakfast for attendees.
Eric Smith welcomed guests to this breakfast talk, jointly hosted by OASIS Edinburgh, Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland and business matters.
You can see the PowerPoint presentation that John used and hear a recording of his talk by using the icons at the foot of the page.
John suggested that the title for the talk had evolved and highlighted that these reflections were his own thoughts coming to the end of his career.
Often we seek to convey the image of the “super-businessman” and are keen to know how we “stack up” against others in our field. We want to be seen as capable and would be, perhaps, reluctant to acknowledge that there are times when we feel under pressure and not coping. He suggested that we should be cautious in believing our own publicity lest we come to think that we are actually infallible.
John identified a number of things that can cause us to feel ill at ease with our own performance and can lead to stress entering our make-up:
- A feeling that we have been slighted or ignored
- Too much work
- Relations with colleagues and clients
John suggested that it is extremely important to recognise that success and failure are both to be expected in our career and, quoting from Kipling, encouraged us to “meet with triumph and disaster and treat these two impostors the same”. He cautioned against obsessing over the “great triumphs and disasters” and seeing our lives as our work.
John suggested that to cope well, we need a broader view of life; a wider world view. In his own experience, he found his Christian worldview to be important, encouraging him to recognise his own abilities and perhaps limitations but also the imperative to serve.
Keeping our vision constantly moving from ourselves to others and back again prevents an unhealthy inward focus. We should also learn to accept that there are certain things that we cannot change but focus our energies and efforts in areas where we can make a difference and where this will lead to real progress.
John then moved on to deal with practicalities that we can put in place to deal with the issues above.
As far as mistakes are concerned we need to accept that something has gone wrong and then actively deal with it. John said he was going to outline three key rules, the first of which is this:
- Don’t avoid the difficult issues – deal with them up front
In the area of relationships, timing is important – it is not always a good idea to rush in but we should be prepared to make the first move to repair relationships when it is required and helpful. Keeping a realistic perspective on our own position and importance in any given situation can be immensely helpful in ensuring that problems are minimised.
In tackling pressure the second key rule comes into play:
- Be disciplined, prioritise and don’t procrastinate – devote the prime time to the key issues – ask “Am I solving the problem or just moving the paper around?”
Thinking about relationships with colleagues and clients, John encouraged us to “be ourselves”, to be authentic since that avoided any issues with “being found out”. Treat others with respect and be open. We should manage people’s expectations so that they are not unrealistic and therefore not so likely to be defaulted on. We should give people confidence by building trust based on demonstrable previous behaviour and performance.
Key rule three is, therefore:
- Be honest and realistic
John summed up that we should aim for these ideals, even if at times we struggle.
A question and answer time chaired by Tony Bryer of Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland then took place.
Tony then responded and outlined how, through his role as a Work Place Chaplain, he could see the importance of being a person, not just a “role” and also the importance of knowing ourselves as we progress through our careers in the sometimes challenging landscape of the office or business.
He gave some helpful short pointers on “natural leadership”, embracing strengths and weaknesses as areas where we can learn and grow, taking the sharp pains that change can sometimes bring rather than the dull pain of unconsciousness and facing the challenges and growing through them.