A legacy to be proud of…

Henry-BrombergI recently had the privilege of singing at Henry Bromberg’s funeral.

Henry died aged 9 and, despite being born with only half a functioning heart, had captured the whole hearts of millions across the nation when he was featured in a ‘Children In Need’ documentary.

As I listened to the many eulogies I was humbled by the sheer amount that this young courageous boy had achieved in his 9 years, more than most 90 year olds!  I began to reflect on my own legacy and, in discussions with others after the funeral, discovered that many there had done the same.


What is it that prevents us from being as exceptional as Henry?

Surely, with our whole hearts, we could do so much more to make a difference in this world.  Similarly what are all the things that we want to do before we die, but the chances are, won’t ever get round to them and why is this?  The answer is of course, us!  We have a myriad of ‘reasons’ of why we can’t do something and that the chore of day to day living gets in the way, but we only have one life and we all have a choice over how we use it.  Every day we put off our dreams, is a day less to achieve them.

At iTS Leadership we sometimes ask 3 questions of our clients:

  1. If you found out today, you had exactly 10 years to live, what would you do?
  2. If you found out today, you had exactly 1 year to live, what would you do?
  3. If you found out today, you had exactly 1 day to live, what would you regret NOT having done?

I wonder what your answers would be to these 3 questions, and having answered them, what you will choose to do differently?

Be bold, make the most of every moment of the life you have been given and leave a legacy you are proud of.

~ Author: Ursula Franklin

(For more information on Henry’s remarkable story visit: www.henrybromberg.com)

Leadership and Teamwork – to support the dream, not instil the fear!

I was recently visiting a park with my friend, her children and family, and there were a variety of obstacles, slides and swings for them all to enjoy.  Her twins quickly bounded over to a huge dome-like climbing frame and their goal was to reach the top; they were full of energy, their smiles were huge and the whoops of joy were a delight to hear.  As they started to climb, their grandad rushed over, hands outstretched, calling “be careful, you might fall”.  At that point, the twins stopped and looked towards their mum.  “You’ll be fine”, she said. “I want you to look where you are going, check where your feet and hands are, don’t rush or play about, focus on the frame and, if you think it’s getting too difficult, I’m here to help you get to the top”. Immediately, the girls turned back to the frame and continued with their pursuit of glory.

At the same time, my friend’s nephew was standing next to his grandad at the bottom of the frame, watching the twins. “On you go”, said grandad.  “No, I don’t want to fall”, he said.  And no matter how much encouragement both grandad and my friend offered, he was too afraid to risk it.  The fear had already been put in place.

That got me thinking.  How often do we have this same view within our working lives?  As a leader, if a member of your team had asked if they could try something innovative, would your response be: “if you’re sure…I don’t want you to be upset if it doesn’t work out…I won’t be upset if you cannot do it…what if you try something simpler…let’s ask others what they think first.”  Immediately, they hear that you think they will fail and that they lack the ability to reach higher levels of success. Imagine if one of their colleagues had also been considering something similar, but had overheard your comments, you may have already instilled a fear in them before they had even had a chance to start, or even prevented them from trying.  So, what if your response had been different?  “Go for it…if that’s what you want to do…I’m here to help if you need me…what do you need…so long as you stay focused and understand what you are doing, it’s worth trying…”.   How much more might they have achieved?

Generally, teams are made up of people that have the right skills, knowledge and mindset to do the job, however, when agreeing roles and responsibilities for a project, how often have we heard colleagues giving ‘helpful’ advice; “don’t worry if it goes wrong, we can help you put it right…we know you haven’t had much experience of this, but don’t worry about it…!”  Without realizing it, the team are letting their colleague know that there is a chance of failure, someone is probably going to have to step in and the team have communicated a lack of confidence in that person’s ability to do well.  How much more would the team have achieved if they had said “sounds/looks great, if you feel you need help or advice just ask, we trust you!”

Before offering advice, imagine them on a climbing frame; are your words highlighting the fear of falling or the potential to reach the top?

As for the twins, they reached their goal very successfully and, when they finished, asked “that was brilliant, what can we do next, is there something higher?”  And off they went, without the fear of failure.