I’ve blogged before the about things I learned from my Father about work and leadership.
When I changed jobs a little while back, he gave me some advice. He told me to leave my deckchairs at home.
It’s a leadership story of his that I quite like, and it goes a little like this.
I’ve got a red deckchair. When I go to the seaside I take my red deckchair with me. I’ve had it for years and I like it. It is comfortable to sit in. When I get to the seaside, I take it to my favourite spot; I set it up and there I sit. I strongly advise you don’t try and sit in my deckchair for it is mine and I like it. One day, I went to a different seaside. I took that deckchair with me. I tucked it under my arm, I got it out and put it right up, even though all the other deckchairs at that seaside were blue. I don’t like blue deckchairs. So I suggested that everyone else put away their blue deckchairs. Because I want them to have red ones. I pushed and persuaded and persisted until everyone else had a red deckchair too.
I think he is talking about habit, and the comfort of having things just how we like them, just how we are used to them. I think he is talking about how easy it is to turn up somewhere new and set up your red deckchairs, and sod the existing blue ones, without even realising it. I think he is also talking about imposing and impatience. About not listening. About the arrogance of the I know best.
Maybe when you turn up somewhere new, those blue deckchairs that you find there are old. Maybe those blue deckchairs are broken. Perhaps a red one would be better. Or maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe the blue deckchairs are just right, for that place. Maybe what’s needed is a mixture of the two, or a whole new colour. Later. When you have assessed. When you have considered, listened, learned.
Do you have a red deckchair?
Is it comfortable?