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Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's not about you...

Of all the lessons to learn in life, the one I keep thinking I have learnt turns out to be the one I keep needing to relearn...

Namely, that nearly everything that I think or feel is subjective.

It doesn't matter how frustrated, annoyed, insulted, overlooked I feel, most of the time the thing that I have perceived turns out not to be about me or related to me in the way that I thought it was. Obviously this is also true about things that have made me happy but in this instance I would prefer to hang on to the happiness in blissful ignorance.

It is amusing that it is so easy to see this trait in others.  My mind wandered as I sat in an interminable meeting the other day. I started to wonder whether it would help to have a big yellow card with "It's not about you" written on it in bold that I could hold up referee style in meetings when someone starts wittering defensively in reaction to a perceived slight.

Now there's a feature that I would pay for on the new Google enhanced reality specs... A little flashing icon in the top left of your field of vision that no-one else can see and a voice in your ear that no one else can hear that says, "Calm down dear, it's not about you"


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Further reflections on reflecting...

Yesterday while in the queue for passport control at Heathrow, I was rung by a BBC journalist to ask my opinion on whether getting caught playing games on your mobile in a meeting is a bad thing.  Obviously my name is on a database at the BBC as someone who can provide a reasonably coherent quote on issues relating to office life as this tends to happen from time to time...

My response was that if it happened in a meeting that I had called I would probably be quite annoyed but would subsequently come round to wondering whether the meeting was necessary, whether I was chairing the meeting well enough or whether the person concerned actually needed to be in the meeting. [1]

Simple reflective practice... I smugly thought to myself and hung up in time to present myself and my daughter to the immigration officer.

On our journey from our plane through terminal one to the baggage reclaim we had been accompanied by a bouncy, slightly rowdy boy of about 8 years old who climbed the escalators the wrong way, pushed past us and shouted to his rather tired and exasperated looking father who trailed behind.

When we got to baggage reclaim I gave my daughter a hug and congratulated her on being so well behaved.  My wife pointed out that I shouldn't automatically attribute the child's behaviour to poor parenting as is was quite possible that the child had behavioural issues that had been exacerbated by our two hour delayed flight.

Doh! Not quite so smug now.

So, on the first or second day of the new academic year, allow me to life my hat to the all the teachers  around the world who are part of the only genuinely reflective profession.  They are confronted daily by 30 or more people who repeatedly highlight their failings and yet they find within themselves the humility to quietly ask themselves how they can do what they do better.

I should be more like you.

Have an excellent autumn term.

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[1] Entertainingly, when the story was posted on the BBC website an old friend forwarded the link to me and I suggested that he was obviously working hard if he had time to trawl the web for references to friends... He replied that I would be pleased to know that he had stumbled across the article during a conversation he was having with a colleague!