I watched two amazing TV programs last night. The first was Horizon and it was about why Earth, as far as we know right now, is the Goldilocks planet.
It’s not too close or too far from the Sun; which means it’s not too hot or cold.
There’s not too much or too little oxygen in the atmosphere.
It spins at the just the right speed to create a little turbulence to stir things up and we have just the right sized moon at the perfect distance to give us life enhancing tides to the seas; which have just the right amount of salt and other nutrients to make abundant life possible.
And then immediately afterwards was a programme about the wildlife of the west coast of America and the Sea of Cortez.
It was fascinating to watch blue whales swimming with their young and an amazing type of fish that beaches itself at high tide, burrows tail first into the wet sand to lay its eggs, before freeing itself and trying to avoid the masses array of predators who’d lined up to graze on this seafood buffet, to get back to the safety of the sea. But most incredible was a crab that lives two miles down in the superheated, 300 degrees, water that comes straight from the bowels of the earth. It would die instantly if moved to the “normal” temperatures we live in.
I tend not to watch a lot of TV but last night was different because I was preparing to go to Manchester this morning for the start of another week of training and I had to iron my shirts. A task I hate doing.
A new group of senior managers; and I know they’ll all be coming with their preconceived ideas of what the week will mean for them.
Ultimately it’s about personal and professional development and this can be a difficult thing for senior managers. Because, when you think about it, these are all people who are paid to know what they are doing and to have the answers.
To get the best out of the training they have to be prepared to put themselves into a mental state of “not knowing” and, of course, this makes them feel vulnerable.
So part of my job is to get them into that right state of mind, so they are open to the possibility of the learning that can come if they commit themselves to taking a full part in the training.
Naturally, as with any group, there is always a spectrum of attitudes. So I always go in knowing that this will be the case but not knowing how the group will respond.
It keeps the nerves sharp and stops any complacency from setting in.
When the programme finished a thought came to mind about something I’d seen earlier in the morning.
I was just leaving the gym and the question in the subject line of this email just hit me.
I go to the local sports centre gym which is set in the local park; so lots of people take their dogs for walks. And, as I came out of the door there was a chap taking his two dachshunds for a walk.
Now I’m a dog person. I love the way that dogs are generally happy. I know that some dogs that are mistreated but where I come across most of them is in the park where they are being looked after by their caring owners. So they are happy dogs.
They run around with their tails wagging; sniffing, sometimes barking but always happy.
The dachshunds don’t go around thinking “why haven’t I got long elegant legs like that Boxer?” The greyhound doesn’t think “why can’t I be cute and cuddly like that Scotty?” They’re just happy to be who they are.
And that’s what makes us different to dogs and all the other animals I’d been watching on TV.
We are the only species on earth that has the awareness that we have the potential within us to become more than we are today.
In fact it’s not just a potential; it’s a driving force that if we don’t feel we are meeting will lead to frustration and dissatisfaction with our lives.
It can take many different forms. It doesn’t have to show up as driving need to be an entrepreneur or a pop star. A professional sportsperson or an actor. It might be that we just want to be the best parent we can be or best teacher or best friend. The point is we are the only species on earth that can choose.
Generally we all have something in which we want to be the best we can be but the difficulty can be in deciding what that is.
What is it for you? Are you like the crab that can only live in 300 degree water? Or the Dachshund that doesn’t know it only has little legs?
When you can answer that question life takes on a different meaning.
I’m looking forward to this week. It’s going to be like the Forrest Gump quote:
‘…..a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’