Are You a Shirley Valentine or Marigold?

Hi everyone,

There are a couple of programmes on TV at the moment that I’m really enjoying; the Shirley Valentines are a group of (celebrity-ish!) ladies in Greece who are taking time out to rethink their lives, not just about romance but other things too (on ITV) and the Marigolds (on BBC1) are the current group of older celebrities who are trialling the delights of Udaipur in India to see if they would move there in their retirement. Although I’m not sure if they do ever ask them if they will be moving to the new location for their retirement! I’ll have to watch more closely this time. Both shows make me smile, mainly because the people in them are open to trying new things, even though they’re a little bit scared and sometimes as we get older we start to be not so good at that. Bob Champion (a championship jockey) had never eaten curry or much spicy food and he’s doing that for the first time in India! How cool is that?!

Psychologies magazine ran an article years ago that I’ve never forgotten, which talked about how people have achieved amazing things in the later years of their lives.  People like Einstein, Charles Darwin and Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote the Little House on the Prairie books at the age of 69.  That’s quite an eclectic mix I’ll grant you (I loved Little House on the Prairie!) but my point is that there are a huge number of writers, actors, scientists, inventors and general high achievers who have not achieved their greatest work until their later years.  James Dyson – say no more!  I truly admire the resilience of people like James Dyson and JK Rowling because they didn’t accept being told ‘no’.  They both kept going, probably living on quite low incomes at times because they believed in what they were doing so much that they endured hardship to realise their dreams.  That’s super inspiring ?

You don’t have to have been working towards something for most of your life in order to achieve great things in later life and what those successes mean are very subjective anyway.  Who’d want JK Rowling’s billions really?! ?  Our energy changes over the years and often we start to feel more comfortable in our own skin and more self assured about who we are.  That in itself can make us more resilient.  We tend to be less bothered about what people think of us as we grow older and that’s another great layer of resilience.  The key to it, I think is to keep an open mind.  I’m not saying we all need to take up sky-diving but are there things you don’t usually do?  Foods you’ve never tried, hobbies you shudder at, theatre shows you would never consider?  Maybe it’s worth giving something different a try?  If it’s rubbish, at least you’ll definitely know that’s not for you, and you were right, well done but maybe, just maybe you’ll have a fab time and be glad that you tried it!  That’s great for your self esteem, acknowledging that you had the courage to do something new, even when you felt a bit nervous about it.

I remember the original Shirley Valentine film and while I was only 19 at the time, I knew that there were lots of women in relationships like that and thought it was totally kick ass that she found the spirit from somewhere, talking to the wall possibly, to go and do something different when the opportunity was presented to her.  Sometimes we create our own opportunities and sometimes they can be presented to us by a friend who’s won a competition for an all expenses paid holiday to Greece, a la Shirley, but keeping an open mind and knowing when to say ‘yes’ even when every fibre of your worry head is saying ‘nooooooo!’ is the key to it!  Simples! ?

So what’s it going to be?  If Sid Little can have a crack at yoga then I think we can all think of something new to try can’t we?  At the very least, watching the Valentines and the Marigolds try new things might make you smile.  You’re never too old to try something new and think what an inspiration that’ll make you to other friends and family members.  Having said that, I don’t think I’ll be having Octopus for tea.  One step at a time eh?  It definitely won’t be chips and egg either though. ?

Take good care please and have a great day.

Best wishes, Karen

This resonates for me in two of my previous roles.  With a sensing preference, I was a great Ops Manager, sorting out the day to day issues of the team, talking to customers and suppliers, bringing the right people together to make things happen.  Brilliant! ?  Did I raise my head to think about the future of the team and what might happen if my budget got cut in half, which it did?  Err, no.  I didn’t see that one coming because I was too busy with my head down, sorting out the day to day stuff.  Hmmm, not so brilliant then :-/

In another role I was a Business Manager (a similar ops style role again) but had a senior Manager who very much had a preference for intuition, which should have worked well as we complimented each other.  It didn’t though because he liked to talk through ideas, and with every one I would immediately create a list of things to do in my head of how to make that work, only to find out two weeks later that he didn’t want to do that any more!  I felt overwhelmed by the anticipated workload, much of which would never happen because he’d move on to another idea.  And even when we did the Myers Briggs profiling work and I was identified as having an ISTJ (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) preference it was still more about other peoples’ preferences than mine it seemed.  He was the Area Manager so if he wanted to chat things through….  I tried desperately not to make those lists in head but with some of the plans he did expect me to act on them to make them happen.  It just wasn’t always clear which ones they were! ?

If your preference is more towards sensing and solving problems in the here and now you will be fabulous in operational roles.  If your preference is more towards intuition and thinking about future, strategic plans you’ll succeed in more strategic roles, although sometimes you have to work through the operational roles to get to the strategic ones which won’t always feel comfortable for you.  If, you’re in a senior or influential role with a preference for sensing you might need to lift your head and think more strategically about what’s going to happen in the next year and two, five and ten years, or employ someone to do that for you.  If you’re in a senior or influential role with a preference for intuition you may need to engage more consciously with the operational issues of the day to day or risk dis-engaging your workforce.  It might not be your job to fix the problems but having an awareness of them and asking how things are going is great leadership that will keep your staff engaged.  If you give the impression you’re too important to care about the small stuff the people who do that small stuff might walk away from you and that’ll definitely create an operational problem for you!

By thinking about your own preference and that of the people around you, you can sometimes see why you might find it difficult to work with someone, even if you like them and as with all aspects of our personality type, differences are not wrong, they’re just different.  You’re not right, just because you’re the most senior person there.  All the personality types and preferences have something different to offer and without a mix of them you could be at risk of missing something.  Each aspect of our personality type has pros and cons around it.  I was great at Ops but part of my role was to look forward and horizon scan and I had to make a conscious effort to do that more proactively, it didn’t come naturally to me.

Your preference doesn’t mean that you can’t do the opposite thing, it just takes more energy to do it.  So if your preference is for intuition and you’ve had to roll up your sleeves to help finish an important piece of work you might feel quite tired at the end of the day.  Equally if your preference is for sensing and more operational issues, a team away day to think about your organisation’s strategic vision and to complete several SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analyses won’t really float your boat, but both need doing.  The key is to find a balance of what you spend your time on, to identify the differences of the people you work with and to generate a conversation about preferences which might help you to think about who does what in the team.  Playing to everyone’s strengths is hugely motivating and will create a highly effective and engaged workforce.

So, are you thinking about this weekend or Christmas?  That might give you an idea of what your preference is.  Pressie-wise, chocolate or alcohol’s always good for me, thanks! ?  I’ll start to think about your gift around the end of November.  It’s not wrong, it’s just different!

Take good care please and have a great day.

Best wishes, Karen