Ok, so I am often accused of thinking too much and sometimes I think too much about things which may not seem important to most people, but what isn’t important to you or others may still be important to me – this blog has developed into a place where i can share my thin king regardless of whether anyone actually agrees with it or makes sense of it, I wrote this blog to release my thoughts, to capture them and to time stamp them…this process allows me to move on, to reflect on what I have seen, heard or experienced. Without this blog I’d probably and in all serious have a serious problem.
However this post is not about that, it is about one thing I have come to learn recently – that sometimes when you think, you often push yourself into isolation and into a lonely place, especially if your thinking is so far removed from your peers, friends, colleagues and even your organisations and that you need people around you to help your realise you are not alone.
Now I’m not suggesting my thinking is that far removed from my current employer, well not now anyway…although it used to be and it was the reason why I had planned on leaving and seeking pastures new, pastures where my thinking could develop and grow and be challenged by others in constructive ways and not through ignorance.
It is in this loneliness that you start to seek out likeminded people and seek new opportunities, for me I found other blogs, other twitter folk but more importantly I found real people who were prepared not just to listen to me, but to challenge, to nudge and to encourage my thinking and to help me realise that not only is it ok to think differently but it is also part of the role of a leader to encourage people to share their thinking and to find new opportunities and to shape new futures.
I’m going to acknowledge 4 people, they are not the only 5 people who have helped shaped my life but I want to say thanks as they have stopped me feeling alone and have encouraged and challenged my thinking – in no particular order:
One such person who contributed to my journey and his contribution can not be under estimated is Martin Howitt. He put up with sitting directly opposite me for 2 years, day in day out…I don’t remember getting much real work done but I do remember thinking, drawing pictures, reading frameworks, researching, talking, discussing, more talking, listening, lots of listening, reflecting, conducting thought experiments. It really was the best 2 years of learning and self discovery I’ve done in the last 20 years. I want to say here that I respect Martin a huge amount and if it weren’t for his friendship, I would have felt even more alone at a time when I felt very vulnerable as a person individually and professionally. For this I say thanks.
Another person who has also played a huge role is my current line manager Tony Parker. When a line manager believes in you, trusts you, empowers you and reminds you that you need to “step up” to the challenges ahead and you can’t rely on others, I can truly say it makes a huge difference to how you see work. Everyday is exciting, regardless of the context you work in, you don’t see the future budget position as a negative but instead you see opportunity to be involved in what will be the most significant shift and change in the future of local public services in generations. This is priceless and when you know your thinking and your judgement is valued it makes all the difference. For this I say thanks.
Another person is Catherine Howe from Public-i. Catherine much like Tony has shown me a level of respect and trust that I often question “how did I earn this respect and trust?” But I know that she has challenged my thinking, stimulated my thinking, validated my thinking as well as believing in me enough to allow me to work for her for a period of time and to learn and experience new things. I respect and admire Catherine a lot, she is simply the kind of person I can spend hours and hours talking and listening to (There are in fact many people in this type of list ) It is important to me to thank Catherine for the opportunity to explore a new style of thinking, to look at something from a different perspective. For this I say thanks
The next is actually a group of people. My team at Devon Russell, Matt, Sam, Patrick and Tim. They are a great bunch of people, they have helped me learn what it means to be a manager, a leader, a facilitator and most of all a critical friend. They make me proud as they are positive, enthusiastic and most of all passionate about what they do and helping to challenge the organisation in how it manages it web and digital presence. They make coming into work enjoyable, fun and most of all I feel part of a team. For this I thank them all.
Last but certainly not least is my wife and family, whom without their love and support none of what I do, think and care about would be possible. On the bad days and yes there are some, they know how to cheer me up, on the good days and yes there are many of those, they enrich it even more with their fascinating stories and tales from their days at school or out and about. But the most important thing they do for me is love me for being me. For that I say thanks.
I guess what I want to say is that sometimes you will feel lonely and you will feel isolated but there are many people who you can connect with who can help take that loneliness away.
As for organisations, the challenge for them is to stop people feeling lonely, to stop those people who have been thinking feeling lonely, those people who are having great ideas feeling lonely and those people who can’t or won’t say anything for fear that they will left alone, from feeling lonely. We need to encourage people to tell their stories, to stop feeling lonely and to keep thinking.