May already. My garden is full of bluebells and all the shrubs and trees are in full bud. It is glorious out there, especially when the sun shines.
Many of us have had our hair cut and are very happy. A male friend of mine says he has had his cut short enough to last until Christmas, just in case! But in the main we are all cautiously trusting that we can poke our noses out of our homes and go out. Later in the month I am looking forward to eating inside a restaurant again. All very exciting.
I was in hospital when Prince Philip died and so was thinking about him a great deal, as watching TV was the ward’s main occupation. It brought many different thoughts into my mind. I think he was a remarkable and complicated man. I am of an age that one of his major achievements was to create the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. I was desperate to do one but my traditional girls’ grammar school was a late adopter so I could not get access to it. However I did see its legacy in the Prince’s Trust through which Prince Charles invests massive sums in youngsters many of whom the traditional world has abandoned. I was a mentor for some years and watched a number of young people develop profitable businesses. And the good Prince was saddened but did not stress if some failed to repay him.
All this made me think about the Queen and how she has empowered her family members to find their passions and develop them. She has carved out a role for the monarchy that its recent immediate history would not have predicted. I admire that.
Having been involved with the health service I have seen the other side of this too. The invention of everyone who looks after us is fantastic. They want to help and support patients. However the processes often tie their hands. On a ward they are not given the freedom to step away from these procedures, however unhelpful they are in the immediate, particular situation. Some are cowed into submission but some are frustrated by the system and may end up leaving. There is a marked difference to paramedics and district nurses. They work independently; problem solving and independent action are their bread and butter!
I am not into bashing the NHS. Far from it, it has looked after me and I am on the way back to health. I am remembering yet again that empowerment is often the difference between good and excellent service. The freedom not just to recognise problems but to find great solutions.
Let’s take a look at the changes happening on the high street. Of course some of these are due to our changing shopping habits. However I think some of it is about staff, employees, colleagues or associates simply taking payment and putting goodies into our own bags. How wonderful it is to go into a small independent shop where the processes are more flexible and often more friendly. They do not need telling about customer relationship management. Their instincts are all about forming relationships. Making friends with customers brings them back as much as good products. Treating customers as special is the great experience they remember and tell their friends about.
Non-essential shops are open again and we are remembering how to shop. A friend was telling me about her experience on a local retail park. One national store was evicting people who dared to flout the rules and try on a blouse in the shop (the shop was empty) and another equally national chain was buzzing because people were practising social distancing but trying things on. Do I detect rules here and no flexibility?
So how do you feel about empowerment? Do you give the people around you – your employees, family members and friends – freedom to think and act? And what about yourself? Do you give yourself freedom to change and grow. There is a wonderful quote from Thomas Merton (an American monk and theologian) “Vocation does not come from a voice out there calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice in here calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfil the original selfhood given me at birth by God”. Are you letting yourself be the person you were born to be? I suspect that Prince Philip became that person, even if not in the navy context he might have expected.
So if you are reading this and it resonates with you; if you like my ideas and values; if you want to develop your business or yourself and give yourself freedom; then please give me a call. I love speaking with people, off the meter, to help them explore possibilities and whether/how to take them forward. You could have a person in there you need to set free!