Keeping the faith

Let’s start 2017 with a degree of honesty.

Yesterday afternoon I sat down for a coffee and a read of one of our national newspapers, something I quite enjoy, catching up with what’s going on in the world. As I scanned through the various articles my festive relaxed mood started to diminish with immediate thoughts were how could we get it so wrong in 2016?

Before I could answer my own question I have to declare that throughout my life I have been a card-carrying optimist albeit with a Mr Micawber (of Charles Dickens fame) attitude that things will work out for the good in the end. This belief has carried me perhaps luckily throughout my life and career managing to hold on to the notion that people will eventually come to their senses and act in a balanced manner with satisfactory outcomes for most.
At that moment on my sofa I slumped back into my comfortable cushions and thought all this time I may have got it so horribly wrong and everything I have held dear throughout my life and career had been a waste of time, and that my undying confidence in people had been misplaced, one could describe it as a real crisis of conscience.

The catalogue of stories before me in the newspaper was truly shocking, the major conflict in almost every aspect of our lives from many theatres war and the potential for more in the coming year. An economic outlook which promises to be as tough as 2016, politician behaviour which is perceived in may major democracies to have broken the trust of populations around the globe with no obvious solutions in sight. Social degradation on a scale which is frightening such as violence against women and affecting others in our society. A high degree of a sense of greed being perpetrated by sections of communities to further satisfy their own interests and widening the gap between the have and have nots. I noticed there were very few stories of optimism in the main pages rather most other content was of a foreboding nature, our media does an outstanding job in sabre rattling but is very light on in providing positive solutions.

This is not taking into account whatever mother nature throws at us in the coming months whilst science undoubtedly sends us warnings that we are on a path to disaster, a case of Nero played his fiddle whilst Rome burned.
The way I have described our situation sounds bleak these events are beamed into our houses every minute of the day, our ambivalence knows no bounds otherwise why would we continue to allow these things to happen, do we believe we have no power to stop these things from occurring, it seems, unfortunately, we have developed a mindset that says that is the case.

So when the clock ticked over to this New Year I secretly murmured under my breath please let it be a better year for humanity and trooped off to bed, not in my usual happy state mind.
Fast forward eight hours to today, for some reason I awoke somewhat defiant; several hours earlier I had painted myself this ghastly picture what may be in store for our coming year. There is no doubt the reality is these awful things I regaled myself are not going away quickly but I and others cannot throw in the towel; it is far too a fundamental issue to let go. I should acknowledge the many other practitioners who have similar concerns and are doing tireless work in this area but frankly, in my opinion, there is strong evidence of apathy in our country.

In my early career I was pigeon-holed as a bit of a teddy bear, “too nice” a person who was incapable of taking the tough measure required in business to be successful as it turned out those persons were to be proved wrong as I forged a career as an international corporate trouble- shooter and interventionist. The reason being I used a different route not normally utilised, in to getting outcomes that involved working with people which seemed to have been successful and appreciated.

I have worked in the corporate world all my life and I have to admit sometimes it can be brutal both as an employee and a consultant. In recent years I have dedicated my activities to asking the question similar to the one used to be asked by Dr Julius Sumner the TV science Professor. He was well known for asking “Why is it so”? Why is engagement in organisations dropping at such an alarming rate? Why is there a rising tide of disenchantment and anger in our lives? Why is there so much conflict? It should concern us all.

Is this past calendar year I have listened to a whole cross section of people’s views, gathered information and watched global trends developing. I have proffered my own views, some people have accused me of talking about the issues too much. In my own defence I can only comment in all the years I have been involved in a wide range of business matters I have never experienced such a set of circumstances come together at one juncture which have led us to this point and unless checked can have serious consequences for all our futures.

It would be rather absurd to think we can resolve all the issues on our plate today or tomorrow, it is certainly possible a degree of progress can be achieved within your own sphere of influence whether it is a company, organisation or just your community, it has to be your choice.

At the risk of sounding like a naïve schoolboy rather than trying to find a complex solution (which we are inclined to do today). It can start with the simple process of talking to one another, building confidence and relationships, it is a timeless process that has a great track record.

I would like to end on a personal note. 2016 was not a great financial success in my business in the absence of direct contact with people; whereas all the projects that involved listening, talking and discussing with people had spectacular results. Proving to me those long-held beliefs about people have stood the test of time and any doubts I may have harboured about giving up and spreading the message have been dispelled as long as I am able to do so.

Happy New Year for 2017

Ken Wood