Letting yourself fly


I was not born in a home where there were stereotypes. So that was very useful because it gave me the sense of possibilities, of flying, if I may say, of making my hopes and dreams a reality.                                                       Michelle Bachelet

Think back through your life experiences? Do you feel you have ever limited yourself or your business?

Have you appreciated people’s experience and knowledge or have you dismissed it out of hand?

I think back to my younger days and now reflecting I realise that as youngsters we would ignore the advice we were given from the “old timers”, partly because we thought we knew better or because we just wanted to do it our way! Yet in all cases, they were trying to help us and share their wisdom from over the years.  

Well, time marches on and now the shoe is on the other foot! This time, it’s me sharing from my years of experience. I can honestly say that in the majority of cases the people do listen and acknowledge what I’m sharing. Is it how you say it? I’m not sure but I know the approach that worked for me was when people coached me or mentored me. Not when they told me how to specifically do something.

I also think what stands out, is when as my younger self, people asked me what I thought and listened to my ideas and solutions. I think whatever age we are we all have something to give and we all need to listen to one another properly and learn from each other. “Oldies” can through careful coaching approaches share their life experiences and “young” can share the latest technology and bring a new creative attitude to the workplace.

I’ve seen teams where apprentices have revived the team and made it sparkling and creative. In turn, the apprentices have lapped up the support and care they received from the older members and absorbed their knowledge.
So thinking about how we can all keep learning from each other, sometimes I’ve been in circles where the “big boys” have circulated and networked with each other but seem oblivious to the “newbies” trying to break into the circle. Without new blood in the group, the group can stagnate and lose creativity. The people I have spoken to at those events, who are trying to break in, find it daunting and need their confidence bolstering. This applies to work as well. I suspect that the answer is, that the organisers introduce people to one another, to start the conversations. Additionally, as new people sometimes we need to take a big dose of self-assurance and just advance in.

The same applies to Managers – they need to buddy up the newcomers with an experienced hand, to integrate the person into the team. At the end of the day, whether it’s networking or teams, we all need to work together and support one another. You never know what can come from these working relationships.

I recall an occasion where I had 3 team members start together, and who trained together. The team started to show a clear divide as the new team members shared the latest thinking with each other but didn’t include the established members. Taking the team members aside, I asked them to share an occasion when they had felt out of the group and how it had made them feel. Feelings of loneliness and isolation were expressed. Explaining that’s how the rest of the team felt, made the new people change their attitude and behaviour.  

So what do we all need to do? We need to retain our openness and make it easy for people to talk to us. We need to use our emotional intelligence to notice people hovering on the outskirts and draw them in. Most of all we need to realise that whoever and whatever we do we all have something to give and we need to listen to one another and encourage each other. New people will add a different perspective and bring a new outlook to any team or event.

Without this interaction and letting new people in, the big businesses may miss opportunities to develop and grow. Who knows what we will gain, but we will all gain something from each other.

Take the time out, next time networking, or welcoming the new person to the team, to encourage the person to open up and you may get a pleasant surprise on what you gain.

Take care

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