Fresh Mountain Air

Wowzer! One of my stated aims of this blog was to document – ideally in a humorous and irreverent way – the ups and downs of my lucky life close to the top of the Executive tree. It pains me to reflect that much of my recent musings seem to have documented the seemingly endless jerks and jolts downwards, sometimes off a precipice, and in particular since I achieved my supposed “dream” job of CEO. Well, good news for the positive of mind, this ones the tale of a sudden massive crank up skywards that doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon, and as always it is centred around people. Or more to the point a person.

We all deserve a break sometimes. Something big to go our way, to shoe away that inbuilt caveman instinct that sees threat everywhere and leads us to believe that everyone and everything is against us. I have been guilty of a bunker mind set for far too long, and perhaps didn’t realise quite how deeply entrenched it had become. And whilst pushing the “baggage” to a deep dark recess in a far corner of my mind is something I’m quite adept at doing, it is unarguably unhealthy to do so too much. That particular dark corner was starting to need some sticky tape and elastic walls. It was probably only a matter of time before the damn burst.

I feel guilty moaning and groaning. I know that I’ve been fortunate to land in a well paid job with a chance to make a real difference for a large group of people that I care about (and a few that I don’t), and I am lucky to be handsomely rewarded for it. Something I am extremely grateful for given the increasing polarisation of society and the real pain and hardship just to survive, that too many people suffer on a daily basis. Yet I can’t help but feel how I feel, and the last couple of years has been tougher than tough, with crisis after crisis, seemingly regularly increasing in frequency, severity and variety. It’s tempting to believe that there’s some sort of deity sat on a cloud high above us playing an angelic version of PS4 (probably 5 now), trying to set a new “Heavens Best” for the interactive game “Resilience”. Most things hurled my way can be countered with logic, patience and the great team around me, but there has been one huge absence from the defence for the last year, and that is an understanding and supportive boss.

And so to the blast of fresh mountain air. New crisis – the pending sale of the business. Despite pulling the business from the gutter and successfully getting our team and our customers to believe again, our owners in the wisdom ran out of patience and put us up for sale. Our stoic team took this on the chin, we managed to talk frequently and openly with pretty much everyone, to listen, to empathise, and to try to calm any nerves. And it seemed to work. Everyone settled. Although I had no idea what it would mean for me personally given the penchant that new owners traditionally have for investing in new brooms and sweeping. Fast forward a few weeks and the new owners unveiled the new head honcho – our Group MD. Either my new boss or my executioner.

Very quickly a first visit was arranged where I was to play genial host. Just me and the new MD for much of it. “Get to know you”. Dinner the first evening and a series of very serious and bold questions get fired my way. All about previous accusations and lies and rumours. About poor performance. About not “towing the line” and being “cavalier”. And about whistle blowing (seeA Tale of Blowing Whistles). All clearly mud, shit and bullets angled from or at least via the hineous scheister that is my current boss. I rose to the occasion and fully opened up, and there over a sumptuous desert, my world changed. Someone believed what I said. Understood what I’ve been through. Showed me empathy and promised support. Instinctively I knew it wasn’t bullshit. I could have cried and perhaps I did.

As the other two days of the discover trip wore on it quickly became apparent that this was not a one off. Frankly the trip just got better. Someone who could see what we were doing, could understand what we’d been through, and provide help for the future – which can’t come quickly enough. We travelled around the country and then finally after dropping the new MD off at the airport I could barely contain the smile on my face and in my soul for the next week.

Now I have reflected more fully and although the sheer joy from the impact the visit had may have worn off, the reality of a fresh approach fills me with renewed energy and vigour. The follow ups have backed up the first impressions. Support. Openness. Trust. While these are all just words they are words that change your world when they are real. There is of course, also a delightful irony that this comes hot on the trail of my last post which somewhat pleadingly extolled the virtue of hope. Somehow, somewhere, someone or something is listening, and my writing feels meaningful – at least to me – as a result.

You never know when the transformational postman will come knocking on your door, but just believe it will and be ready to welcome him in. Happy ending? We will see…

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