Death, Taxes and the Inevitable
There’s a saying. Nothing is inevitable apart from death and taxes. We take it with a grain of salt of course. Because we all know we’ll survive with an elixir from Mordor and when we all create multi-billion dollar companies we can migrate to the Cayman islands where tax rates for individuals and companies are 0%.
I’d argue there’s something else that’s inevitable. That is, that my future will without a doubt require me to work closely with people somewhere in this world. That I’ll have to almost train my mind to be able to know what’s wrong with someone before they potentially do.
Sound as outrageous as a Danny Ocean idea? It’s not. From when I was 12 I’ve been leading and working with people, through junior school, high school and into the military. Back when I was younger, leading meant wearing a uniform appropriately and setting an example. Now at 30 and running a small business, leading means being one step ahead of my team. Knowing where they are going before they get there. Picking up day to day emotions and vibes, then using a mental calculator to multiply this over a number of days to see if it’s a one off or a change in attitude.
When I was 19 I started training through the Royal military college in my spare time from studying Physiotherapy and graduated at 21 years old in 2008 as an Infantry platoon commander. During the 2 years of training and the subsequent 5 years of working in a variety of roles we were continually put in new teams (sections) with a variety of personalities and in differing environments and had to adapt, lead and support.
This was an interesting area, we had to keep an eye on our team, and as a commander your soldiers to see if something was changing from the norm. For example, if a soldier was capable but wasn’t giving his or her all, we knew there was something under the surface. Commitment to the role, family or relationship issues were the most common. In the same way, at the Mess (social area) as an Officer we were always told to keep an eye out for those who would stay too long, who avoided going home, who potentially were drinking more or changing their attitude. For these could be signs that something was brewing.
Fast forward a couple of years, leading and running a business is more intensive than ever. My skills have never been so tested in this domain. I’m now ultimately responsible for people’s careers and potentially shaping their life. Leading is no longer writing a white slip for detention. It constitutes, leading by example, giving support and guidance, but not too much because we want the people under our wings to grow themselves and develop initiative, it’s putting them under our wings to comfort them when things aren’t right and letting them fly when things are. It takes us to think about ourselves last and put them first.