I travelled into London this morning by train. I arrive at Paddington, a busy station in the rush hour.
Leaving the train I noticed something I have experience before, but usually I am irritated by it, whereas this time I was curious.
As I stepped from the train, I found myself bumping into fellow travellers. Passengers who had exited the train from an adjacent door or another carriage further down the train; these people were passing along the platform ‘hugging the train’, rather than choosing to move to the centre of a wide concourse, away from disembarking passengers.
I was struck by this behaviour and the potential metaphors for human existence and interaction…
Staying close to where we’ve come from, our roots.
Not exposing ourselves in the throng of humanity and diversity.
Taking the shortest route in life.
Focusing on self and not noticing others.
Being in our own head and not present in the moment.
Staying protected and safe: using a train as a barrier.
Travelling tried and tested paths; the route the train took.
Seeking the beginning or end of our journey.
They seemed plentiful. I may stay curious.
I have been in a discussion today where at one point we explored what might happen if we had no line management.
We discussed how the activities associated with management could be fulfilled in other ways, by technology, by other people, through other relationships.
It left me curious though about the term and, in one sense, its ridiculous notion – that as line managers we are managers of lines.
Here’s a line … manage it.
I cross a busy junction in London regularly, and noticed something yesterday as I waited with maybe sixty or seventy other commuters.
It’s a pedestrian crossing, so comes complete with red and green men. The crossing is on a bend in the road. A busy road in Central London.
The traffic lights began to change, amber to red, signalling the traffic to temporarily cease its urgent flow through the arteries of the capital.
Around me, several people urged forward as the red traffic light shone brightly. Some cast a glance at the vehicles looming down on the crossing, presumably to check that the drivers were obeying the rules of the road. I moved forwards too, moving around someone in front of me; someone diligently waiting for the little green man to shine his instructive self.
Across the other side of the road, the other 50% of the crossing pedestrians were also dividing into two groups for a couple of seconds. Those who acted upon the traffic signal and those awaiting the pedestrian signal. A melee briefly ensued as human beings paused, thrust forward, side stepped and chose.
I wondered about motivations.
Rule breakers and rule followers?
Safety conscious and risk takers?
Aware of bigger picture and focused on linear instruction?
Patient and impatient?
How did we divide up and were these behaviours and motivations present in other aspects of each of our human lives?
When a man doesn’t know what harbour he is making for,
no wind is the right wind
I was speaking to a prospective coach client this morning. They described themselves as lost. The work appears to be about self, about who they are.
They asked me how they would know when they had achieved their goal; I responded with a question, asking how they know now? How they know they need to come to coaching, that they are indeed ‘lost’?
They responded that they ‘feel it’. And so I said, ‘that’s how you will know.’
Sometimes knowing where we are headed is important, but so too is knowing how we will know we have arrived. Without this, any wind, any movement, is without purpose and just as likely to take us the wrong way as to take us the right way.
House clearing today.
Seven people busying themselves boxing, bagging, sorting.
A new language emerged. People passing each other, muttering ‘keep, charity, dump?’. People holding items, asking for advice, ‘keep, charity, dump?’ People checking whether the black bag in the corner of the room, or at their feet, was ‘keep, charity, dump?’ Three piles in rooms. Three piles in the garage. Three piles by cars. Keep, charity, dump.
There are things in our lives which fit these criteria too. Parts of ourselves we should most definitely keep. Parts we could give to others, to bring something into their lives. Parts we could dispose of, no longer relevant or useful to us.
Keep, charity, dump.
Are you tied in knots?
All over my house, in sockets, in drawers, in boxes I have cables. Cables to connect devices to other devices, cables to charge the devices, cables carrying data, sound, pictures. Many I have forgotten what they do. Some I have duplicates because two or three devices have provided them, but I keep them… just in case.
We have many things in life too that connect us to things. To old ways of thinking, to sad memories, to things long forgotten or no longer needed. Do you play the Christmas card game? Sending cards to people you haven’t seen or spoken to in years? Do you have things in your loft, attic, cellar which are boxed up, stored away, long forgotten, but we keep them, just like the cables… just in case.
It seems cables are not the only way we get tied in knots.
I’ve just taken delivery of a new car.
It’s the same as my old one. Same manufacturer. Same model. Same specification. Same colour. Sure a couple of minor details have changed as they have updated the styling, but essentially it’s the same car.
I’m really excited though. Strange how the smell of a new car is so good. I feel like a child at Christmas.
I’ve walked around it several times and lovingly stroked it or removed an imaginary blemish or tiny sign of dirt.
I’m driving carefully too – around a car park, at least. Strange because it’s the same shape and size, yet I’m being ultra cautious.
Given so little is different.
Given so little has changed.
Why is my behaviour so markedly altered?
How we respond to change. How our behaviour is connected to our thoughts – real or imagined. How our senses influence our reactions and our imagination. Weird, but very human.