Peter Johnson & PiM

Insights Discovery & Deeper Discovery Licensed Practitioners

The rumble of the cattle grid...

I was over at Henley Business School recently on a perfect spring day, and able to switch ‘over’ into a different mode for the day. I have been coming here for about 30 years, and always struck by the wonderful relaxing setting. It is by the river Thames, just a short distance up river from the world known course for the famous Regatta.

As one turns off the road there is a cattle grid that one has to rumble over - something that has always had significance for me for a number of reasons. Taking this time out from a busy week usually means that other people are carrying the load for the day, whether that is family, or colleagues – so I always feel as if I need to respect the time, and make the most value of the space. It is space away from the bustle of business and therefore, once the phone is switched to silent, allows space in one’s mind to open, learn and create.

On this day I was meeting with a few people to discuss some things that were important, not urgent; allowing me space to focus.

Over the many years I have been visiting Henley it has changed and developed. In one of the conversations it reminded me of a quotation I needed to check when I got back. The quotation is: ‘‘At Ferrari we are proud of our history but not prevented by it.” And indeed this is what has happened at Henley, I hope it is what has happened at a personal level too.

As I left, the spring lambs in the picture were bouncing around, having some joyful fun, learning, growing, experimenting, occasionally falling over yet quick to get back up, nudging each other and more. When was the last time you can honestly say you managed to do these things? The lambs have not yet learnt ‘to be serious’ – sadly, too quickly, we become serious, when some good experimenting would pay dividends.

Also, in this case, a proud mother is looking on, allowing the lambs to learn by playing – and, I think, keeping a wary eye on me. How many managers allow the space for creativity and experimentation encouraging falls from which their people can get up? Or is their watching eye one of severity at not being serious?

Every time I take time out, positive things happen, reminding me that I should make a little more space in my diary, and more often.

Hardly an insightful thought - one that I know; yet how often do I do it?!

As I felt, and heard, the rumble of the cattle grid, my time had come to re-enter the world I had come from. The time invested treasured; the lessons from the lambs priceless - and a beaming smile on my face as I made one last check in my review mirror and saw the lambs still jumping and playing.