In all my years as a manager/leader, the title of this piece has been one of my touchstones. You see, while I won’t turn the odd bit of personal glory down, I do not actively seek it; I am much more interested in change happening than who made it happen.
I was reminded of this mantra recently, when a funding opportunity slipped through my fingers – or did it? I had been working with someone towards a substantial sum that would have benefited The Aire Rivers Trust, which I chair, and the River Aire, which is (obviously) the target of our actions. For various reasons, the ‘dance’ going on between me and the potential funder did not lead anywhere and they decided to offer the funding to someone else. BooHoo… – or was it?
The ‘someone else’ to whom it was offered also works on the River Aire and if they get the money it turns out that they will spend it on more or less what we had planned and would like our Trust to work as a partner with them 😊
So whilst I admit to being slightly peeved that I didn’t pull off the deal, at the end of the day the right thing is going to happen, and for that I am grateful. Moreover, we have been cultivating the ‘other organisation’ for many years, building relationships, understanding each other’s capabilities and desires.
From the outside some might wonder what the apparently outcome-free meetings are about, going to meetings from which we get no immediate return, what is the point of taking Ms X for a coffee, or ringing Mr P up for a chat every now and again. “Wasted effort” they might say, to which my response is “Building long-term relationships that will pay off at some unexpected time”, as happened in the instance described above.
My wife says that one of the things I do as I stimulate change is to ‘plant seeds’. And as in a garden some of those seeds grow and some fail to germinate. Initially all of them need care and every one that germinates needs tending. Watering, fertilising, potting on, planting out. The rewards from a garden might not come for months, or even years and might even be reaped by someone else – but the rewards will be reaped if sufficient consistent care is given. The person who sees the first blossom on the bush you so carefully planted, cared for and sold on may not even know who did those early tasks – but when you walk past their garden and see it in blossom, you will know and you will continue laying the groundwork. Buy that coffee, ring her up, send that interesting article, attend those ‘pointless’ meetings – it will pay off somehow, sometime, somewhere.