Spark to a Flame

There’s been a distinct direction of travel in the national mood over the last couple of years. The dominant narrative has been around uncertainty, unfairness, and other negative sentiments. There’s an good article in this weeks Economist that captures it. Our reality is not what’s real, it’s what we choose to see, and right now a lot of us seem to be looking through a glass darkly.

I’ve been writing in this blog about our inner spark recently, from the standpoint of individuals and organisations. We all have one – what psychologists would term our “essence” – the talents, drives and perspectives that make us uniquely who we are.

Understanding and connecting to the our spark looks likely to be ever more important in the coming months.

When times are good, when there is a greater degree of certainty, it is easy to neglect our spark in favour of easy pickings – the “low hanging fruit” beloved of strategists in search of short term performance. Easy pickings though come at a price. Just about everbody goes for them.

The end result is that we, or our business, becomes inauthentic. It neglects the unique spark, and we, and our businesses become very similar to others. Our differentiation is based on clever marketing more than principle, but it is a veneer.

Turbulence, or even a recession, will strip this veneer away. People will look for more than convenience and price – they will start to ask themselves the question “why am I dealing with this person / organisation? How are they going to help me stay safe in this storm?”Are they interested in me, or just my money?”

My favourite author in this area of risk and uncertainty remains Taleb, he of “Anti Fragility“. I love the simplicity of the idea that the opposite of fragile is not resilience (which gets us back quickly to where we were before the shock) but anti fragility – the ability to harness the energy of the shock to go somewhere, or create something new.

At the heart of anti fragility is our spark, our essence. The layers we have built over it in the easy times will get blown away. If we are to thrive in more difficult times, we have to harness our spark.

First though, we have to find it and reconnect with it. It requires hard work, and sometines a less than comfortable appraisal of where we are.

It’s on this that I will be focusing on now – learning from experience and effort how to approach this, and sharing what I learn with others.

At heart though, this is a huge and timely opportunity to bring real purpose and meaning into our lives, and of those around us. To be who we really are, and contribute things that matter. It’s our own deeply personal rallying call.

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