It is July which means Wimbledon and strawberries. The end of term is coming up and everyone is thinking holidays. Those of us not going away this month are trying to be enthusiastic about other people’s excitement and sympathetic with difficult travel arrangements. As I write this it has been very warm and there have been thunderstorms. My abiding memory will be seeing a pedestrian out in a massive storm running along, soaked to the skin with her arms our wide and a grin so wide it was infectious. She was enjoying every drop.
So, what am I thinking about?
This month I have been thinking about heroes and the affect they have on us. What do I mean by a hero? I do not mean the leading figure in an adventure story or one of the superheroes like Batman. I mean someone who we meet in everyday life who has all the same challenges as we have but somehow rises above them to live a life well, using their gifts and caring for other people. They inspire admiration for the things they do and the way in which they do them. They are usually creative and fearless. But always consistent and authentic. And most they are modest.
We talk about our heroes sometimes. It is usually when times are tough for us, and we can bring their philosophies in to help and inspire us to pull ourselves out of the slough of despond or take a mighty step out of our comfort zone. Sometimes we ask ourselves “what would XXXX do in this situation?” . Sometimes it is when they do something especially stunning, and we want more people to notice it.
So, who are our heroes? I will speak about mine first. You all know how I rate Dolly Parton. She talks about her song writing and her singing but does not talk about being an amazing businesswoman and a huge philanthropist unless she is asked. Who will ever forget her $1m dollar donation to research to find a vaccine for Covid. Who cannot but admire the Imagination Library and the incredible effect it has for so many reasons not least of which is literacy.
So, who else? One of my massive heroes is one of those people who have no consciousness of their own abilities and insights and think they are ordinary. It was a woman called Clarissa Robinson, now long dead but remembered with huge admiration and affection by many even now. Clarissa was an opera singer, a cook, an embroideress of enormous talent and skill, a lay reader in the Church of England, a very skilled counsellor, and a founding member of CRUSE the bereavement support charity which has helped so many. She was so much more, she was formidable, kind and one of those people you always knew was in the room. I met a woman at her funeral who had come from her home in Canada to be there because Clarissa saved her life through counselling. She was particularly passionate about helping children who had been bereaved. I am very proud that such an amazing woman called me her greatest friend. She never ceased to inspire me.
Why am I talking about this now? Because just last week I met another of my heroes. Someone I never expected to meet. Someone I found myself telling I felt like I knew her because the media has brought her into my life probably first when she became chaplain to the House of Commons back in 2010. Now Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin, you all know her because of her role in the coronation. I met her because I was at a service celebrating the life and death of St Alban our first English martyr and saint. She was the preacher, and I was excited like a child. Afterwards I was fortunate to have 15 minutes talking with her. I am not going to tell you about that it was a private conversation and will stay like that. However, I can tell you how it made me feel. Bishop Rose is everything I expected and admire. She is energetic, committed, engaged and contagious. She cares genuinely and deeply for the things you would expect. And she shares her enthusiasms whilst she holds your hand and looks in your eyes.
This is why I mention heroes. Who are yours? Just take five minutes to think of three people who you admire. Who they are does not matter except to you but the effect they have on you is fundamental. What do they inspire you to do? How do they make you feel? I bet they give you confidence that you can do more than you thought. What are the values and causes they bring into your life?
And how do they handle the admiration you feel? Do they stay balanced and ordinary, or do they become puffed up? People who start to believe their own publicity soon lose the impact they used to have.
Why are heroes important?
- They set us an example. They led us into places where we might not have gone otherwise.
- They give us inspiration and belief that we can do some of the things they do.
- They give us courage when we feel weak.
- And perhaps most importantly they expect the best of us and the more they expect the better we become.
So going back to your heroes. Heroes are important in all walks of life but what about your business heroes – who are they what do they illustrate? What resonates in your business from their businesses?
And look at it the other way round. Who might you be a hero for and why? Are you a role model? An example? A pattern to follow? Why? Are you skilled at something? Very talented at interpersonal relations? Calm under fire? Who do you inspire and why? Do you respect the responsibility this puts on your shoulders?
So, what about this piece resonates with you? What do your heroes bring into your life? Are you a hero with the responsibilities that brings? Do you know how to bring this power into your business as an inspirational leader? If you want to unpick this in your life and how to use it to be more effective and powerful; then let’s talk about mentoring. . We can talk about your business and what you want from it; the talents and skills you have and what you want from life. I love speaking with people, off the meter, to help them explore possibilities and whether/how to take them forward. I hope you will be one of them.