I’ve been reading a lot lately about being a ‘busy fool’ - a slave to the ping-ping-ping of smartphone notifications and the world of ‘always on’ distraction. It’s struck a chord - a very loud but slightly off key one!
I don’t think I'm alone in often shouting silently in my head "will everyone just stop?!" It's just so very hard to keep up with everything that is happening these days. Consequently, over the last 12 months I’ve read a lot of books and articles, listened to podcasts and watched webinars, all in an effort to get my thoughts and plans in focus. And whilst all this has been fascinating and insightful, it has only given me yet more to think about.
So, I’ve bought daily planners, weekly planners, multi-coloured highlighters, fancy 'to-do' list pads and reams of cool stationary to motivate me to sit down and try to streamline things - to achieve more each day and to focus better. Naturally, this has led to yet more ways to keep writing lists and for me to question why all this isn’t working and how I could be doing better - making more of an impact, moving more quickly...
So, at the beginning of 2023 I came to a conclusion that there must surely be a better way. It hasn’t always been like this has it? And in amongst all this angst, a tiny nugget of advice given to me back in the very early days of Solomons has kept popping to the forefront of my brain. That advice was KISS - or in other words, 'Keep It Simple Stupid'!
I think I'm only just finally starting to understand what this advice really means: concentrating on doing one thing well, and not getting distracted by shiny new things on the periphery...or the pressure to please people, and at the same time show you are capable of doing everything, all of the time!
As always of course, and especially in today’s attention-grabbing world, this is far, far easier said than done. Magpie tendencies are highly attractive to the cluttered mind, and often can be a most welcome distraction when the task in hand gets derailed by the day to day or hits a hurdle which seems impossible right at that moment to leap. So, a momentarily exciting folly can often be much too hard to resist. It can feel productive in a short-term dopamine kind of hit but underneath you know it doesn’t have any real, lasting impact. It can be far harder to find the discipline to ‘stick to the knitting’ – although ultimately, we know deep down this will (although nothing is certain in this world) bring greater rewards in the longer term.
So, I’ve asked myself, what do I want to KISS? Where should I really be directing my single-minded focus? What should my first and last (work) thought be every day? And it has become startlingly clear. An epiphany if you will. My focus (and passion too) is that I, and the passionate and dedicated development team around me here at Solomons, need to work to just one simple mission:
“To support and develop our people to be confident, knowledgeable, and resilient professionals.”
This is all the more powerful for me personally, because I truly believe in my heart that by doing this we will not only make our people happier and more fulfilled personally, but will also lead to our clients being more successful through the support and advice our teams are able to offer. In turn, this will support the long term success of our business. A virtuous circle so to speak.
By making sure I ask myself each day, am I doing something which supports this mission?, I hope to regain focus and clarity and to ditch the pressure to do EVERYTHING and please EVERYONE. But this “keep it simple” maxim belies a contradiction - just because it’s a simple message, doesn’t mean it will be an easy path to tread. In fact, I’m prepared that it will likely be very difficult indeed.
In a time of economic uncertainty, spiralling costs and frequent market jitters, its very difficult to stick wholeheartedly with this simple commitment - to invest in more training, more in individualised people support, and to continue to seek out external expertise and knowledge, to accelerate our progress in these areas - particularly at a time where other businesses may be looking earnestly to trim down ‘non-essential’ training and development costs to the bone.
This mission will require a sustained belief that this is what our people, the market and our industry needs most and that to persevere will be to succeed. And that by continuing this investment in the future, we will #payitforward ultimately for the benefit of the whole team. Making that simple commitment a reality, will no doubt come with a few sleepless nights and the usual episodes of self-doubt that accompany the types of decisions which seek to fly against the forecasts and attention grabbing headlines.
But keeping that simple maxim in mind and pressing onward to support and develop our people to be confident, knowledgeable, resilient professionals, is both motivating and (hopefully!) rewarding – especially when it has the ability to create strength and agility for our business and for every member of the company.
So now it’s time to block out those distractions and keep the faith (no political U turns or change in direction here!). It’s time to resist the shiny, fleeting, momentarily exciting things and to focus on just one uniquely important and inspiring team mission. Making it clear, making it happen and taking our bright, bold and loyal team to their next level and beyond. Yes, there’s a hint of the Buzz Lightyear there but hey, there are worse role models to have aren't there?