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Saturday, 22 June 2019

Why you need Elvis and a Gringo Killer

11 strangers. 
42 kilometres. 
4 days. 
Getting up at 0400. 
Walking 8 to 10 hours each day up very steep slopes or down precipitous tracks. 
Altitudes above 4000 metres.
Camping in small tents.
Temperatures close to freezing at night. 
Basic washing and toilet facilities.
The Gringo Killer.
The Sun Gate
Then, finally, this.

Wouldn’t have missed it for the world. 

I walked the Inca trail this month. The enormous sense of fulfilment and satisfaction on getting to the Sun Gate then walking down into Machu Picchu with the group, is not one I’ve felt for a long time, certainly not in any recent job. So I thought about this and wondered just what were the circumstances that made it so personally satisfying and what parallels could I draw about working and management.

There was a clear objective. All the group knew exactly what the objective was, when was to be achieved and had plenty of opportunity to ask questions about it before the task started.

There was a leader, a guide (Elvis, yes he’s alive and lives in Cusco). The leader briefed the group, understood any fears or weaknesses individuals may have had and got to know the team beforehand. The leader’s task was to get the group to the objective safely, to educate the group on the way, to provide pastoral care if needed.

There was a plan. The plan was clear, the difficulties outlined, the timing detailed, the logistics identified, opportunities to make last minute adjustments factored in.

The group
11 people who’d never met but had a common purpose. Weaknesses and concerns about possible personal performance were openly discussed. There was a leader, the guide, and a backstop (Andy) to make sure no one got left behind. The group could spread out but was not allowed to separate. Those who wanted to forge ahead could - to a point.

Mutual aid
Because weaknesses and concerns were known the group provided a dynamic support system. Members moved amongst the group offering differing forms of support as needed, dealing with fears, tiredness, anxiety. 

Things go wrong. There was contingency planning. The group provided technical support to each other, selflessly offering and sharing items from their own supplies and equipment so that individuals were not disadvantaged.

Regular briefings
There were regular briefings. Where the group was, what lay ahead in the short, middle and long term.

Bonding time
The group always came together three times a day for an opportunity to talk, discuss, share experiences, express any fears, share how they overcame obstacles, mental or physical. The group provided a non judgemental and safe place for all to freely express themselves.

Same for everyone
All had the same equipment, the same catering, the same accommodation. There were no ‘management’ perks, no us and them.

Celebrate success
The group made the objective on time. There was much hugging, handshaking and celebration. The project had been hard work, uncomfortable (those chemical loos with no seats), tiring and dirty. The group all shared the same sense of collective and individual achievement.

All had to succeed
Everyone had their own personal difficulties but all the group had to reach the objective. No individual could go it alone, it was always a true team effort. 

And the Gringo Killer?

All projects are tough. Sometimes you have to find that difficult extra personal stretch just when you think you and the group have reached the objective and you and the team have used up all your reserves of energy - one last push to succeed. And all have to do it, no one gets left behind.

After getting up at 0400, walking three hours in the dark over 8km of rough terrain to then climb 50 near vertical stone steps cut by the Incas so steep you had to scramble up using hands and feet to reach the Sun Gate. But what a glorious feeling.

Do you still get that sense of satisfaction and fulfilment from your job?

Perhaps you need Elvis and a Gringo Killer.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

90 days.

90 days.

The first three months in a new job. 
Generally it's chaos. 
You don't know anything. How things work, where things are, who are your allies, where the toilets are, where the paper is kept for the photocopier, how to claim expenses, what the culture is, what those acronyms and abbreviations that are used all the time really signify. And you want to ensure that you impress the boss with their new hire.
It's impossible.
Except it isn't.
In my latest podcast I have a conversation with Robert Moment, The Get Hired Expert, about what you need to do in those crucial first 90 days. Apart from finding the toilets and figuring out the photocopier that is.

Robert can be contacted here
You can buy his new book here
And you can read extracts from his new book here.