It is October.
Many of us are working in a more normal pattern than the last eighteen months. Children are back at school and enjoying the experience of being with people again. It must be autumn because the squirrels in my garden are very busy collecting supplies and eating or burying them. The trees are starting to turn colour which makes the countryside so beautiful at the moment. The hips and berries seem very luxuriant so perhaps we are in for a hard winter.
However this week as I write we have St Luke’s little summer and the sunshine is illuminating the colours and cheering us all up.
This month I took myself off to the cinema for the first time in eighteen months. I went to see Respect partly because I have always been an Aretha Franklin fan but also because she was such an enigma and I thought it might help me understand this phenomenal woman. In these days when we seem to know celebrities’ inside leg measurements and preferred toothpaste it is incredible how many things about Aretha are shrouded in mystery. Partly I think this was deliberate strategy as she did not want her life to be on show and partly it was because of her supreme focus on the music.
All of us are a mixture of our talents and our flaws and sometimes the greater the talent the sadder the flaws. We all know the singers who have suffered the demons of addiction whether it be drink, drugs, gambling or excess in every combination. So often it seems to enhance their performance. Aretha was an amazingly mature talent, singing for adults when she was a small child. However she was also pregnant at 12. We can speculate about the father of that first son but without doubt Aretha did not have good taste in men. She had a strong father who might have been coercive but certainly had a clear picture of how his daughters should live. She fell for men with strong views who wanted to control her talent and her life. She suffered various types of abuse. This is why we all know the song Respect – it typifies what Aretha needed in so many areas of her life but also exemplifies her civil rights passion, her commitment to Martin Luther King Junior and continuing his work after his assassination. It is an anthem for all of us even in 2021.
Aretha had an amazing voice and capacity for performance and utter devotion to respect for all individuals. However one wonders whether her life would have been different if she had had a deep seated respect for herself. And that is one reason why I am writing about it this month.
Do you respect yourself? Do you treat yourself in a way that exacts the same response from others? Or does some voice inside you whisper about your inadequacy, your weakness, your unsuitability to be here doing whatever you do? Do you apologise too much? Think you are unworthy? If you do and let this get out of hand there is no way in which other people will respect you. Worse still you will undervalue your expertise and skill in your dealings with others whether in doing deals with prospective clients or suppliers. You will become a victim.
The most effective interactions are those where both people recognise that power is equally distributed. Parties come to the table as adults and deal with each other as such – yes, good old transactional analysis.
We respect those we work with whether they are senior to us, junior to us or on a level. I love Timpsons – Great Service by Great People. What a fantastic strap line but not just a marketing tool. James Timpson believes it. He talks about the upside down organisation in which indirect workers are only there to support those who serve customers. He is at the fore front of recruiting ex-offenders because he sees the value in people, what they are worth and capable of in the future rather than the mistakes they made in the past. No one is written off. He recruits superstars. He sends them videos thanking them for their kindness and commitment in how they work, because this secures healthy company profits, he gives them unsolicited pay increases to reward them. This is respect and it comes back tangibly in company results and customer loyalty.
Retail for Timpson is face to face. Working with colleagues and clients you do not see is another matter. One of the consequences of the pandemic is that some people seem to have forgotten how to work together; in some places there is even a tangible arrogance that “I am doing this all by myself” and a forgetfulness that results are still a team effort. Respect has been forgotten.
So I ask you a couple of questions
- Do you respect yourself? Do you value yourself and remember this in your interactions with clients and suppliers?
- Do you respect others? Do you see the value in others? Do you remember what they bring to the party?
None of this is rocket science but it is important. I would be fascinated to know what you think. Is there enough respect in your life? Do you exercise it and receive it? Please let me know.
Go and see Respect. Jennifer Hudson is amazing. This month I am off to see No Time to Die. I wonder what management lessons Daniel Craig in his last James Bond outing holds for us?!
If as you read this and it resonates with you; if you like my ideas and values; if you want to develop your business or yourself; 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. If you want an objective view of how things are in your business pick up the phone now and let’s have a chat.