Tuesday, 9 January 2018

It Only Takes a Spark - Day 41

Day 41 (Wednesday 10th January 2018)
41 miles - the length of the Metropolitan Line on London's Underground railway
- the system's 11 lines total 250 miles in length, which makes it the longest metro system
in the world. It commenced on 10th January 1863 when the Metropolitan Railway opened
a line between Paddington (then called Bishop's Road) and Farringdon Street. It is the
oldest and first underground railway for general public use in the world.
Today I am catching up on some of what we have achieved with money clawed back from the UK Apprenticeship Levy and cementing plans for the year to come. So far we have individuals undertaking MBAs, others benefitting from management training and a group who are joining us as conventional apprentices, commencing their careers. It is always good to know that you are helping people to develop and grow for both their advantage and for the business. 

Today's post is by a chap who is superb at encouraging others - Steve Browne, an internationally known and highly respected HR star. In addition, Steve acts as a unique unifying gel for many of us in the global HR community, cheerfully making contact and encouraging others to do so.  For the past 11 years Steve has worked for LaRosa's Inc - Ohio's leading pizzeria business and a regional restaurant chain that has grown significantly over the past 60 years. Steve is the Executive Director of HR. He has worked as an HR professional for over 25 years and has gained experience in Professional Services, Manufacturing and Consumer Products in addition to Hospitality and Leisure.

Steve possesses amazing levels of energy and passion for people and all that he does. He is married to Debbie and they have two grown-up children (of whom they both are justifiably proud). Steve is an active leader in the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) in the USA - and was elected to serve as a Director on the Board just over two years ago. He blogs both for the Society (SHRM Blog) and also on his own site Everyday People, as well as tirelessly communicating with HR professionals and interested parties around the world. His enthusiasm is infectious. I strongly recommend that you follow him on Twitter (his handle is @SBrowneHR) if you have not already done so.


I am a hopelessly optimistic human !! It’s odd to see how others respond to my personality, demeanor and approach. It’s amazing how much skepticism and doubt I encounter because we think that if people are positive it’s either some act or a sham. People automatically think that if you’re positive, then you must want something from them. There has to be some hidden agenda because NO ONE is truly optimistic these days.

Sorry to disappoint.

I’m astonished to see how jaded and hardened people have become about all facets of life. It makes me ache. Literally. I am not so na├»ve as to not see the incredible challenges and dysfunction that exists all around the globe. I also know that this same level of instability exists in my family, friends and co-workers. I choose, however, not to succumb to the darkness.

I empathize with others who are facing challenges without judgement. Something may seem an easy fix for some and be a mountain for others. We need to remember that people don’t want to be “fixed” – they want to be seen and acknowledged. There is an easy way to do this. You need to be the spark that rekindles the life and passion that exists in every human being !!

In my recent past, I was the Scoutmaster of Troop 941. I spent twelve years in Scouting with my amazing son along with many fantastic young men.

They came from all types of family situations ranging from affluent to poverty. Homes that were healthy and others that were not. Positive relationships with parents and siblings as well as those who couldn’t be in the same room as other family members. I never stepped in to try and “fix” any of their conditions. I had no right to do so, and that wasn’t my role.

I was there to be a spark in their lives. I’d be so geeked to see them attend a Troop meeting !! I’d see how they were doing as humans and check on how they were doing in school and at home. I’d listen to every single story and make sure to give them my full attention. When we went on campouts, I’d stay up to play card games with them and make sure they had everything they needed to learn, lead and succeed.

One of the first skills that a scout learns is how to make a fire. Now Boy Scouts is led by the young men in the Troop and not adults. They learn from each other as peers. So, the older scouts teach the new scouts. When it comes to fire building, the older scouts let the new ones try to “figure it out” first with little direction. Inevitably, the boys pile enough wood to start a bonfire, and it fails. After several fruitless attempts, the older scout steps in and shows them that you only need a very small amount of kindling and – a spark.

Once the new scouts see how little material is needed to start a campfire, they get it. A spark is all that is needed !!

This same approach is what happens to us as adults. Instead of stripping back the trappings of life, we pile on more and more until we’re almost immobile. We want to move ahead, but we can’t. We’re stuck in our circumstances and it seems hopeless. It isn’t. We have the chance to strip back all of the excess junk and get down to the basics. Then add our spark.

This coming year look out amongst your friends and see how you can help them unburden themselves by being the light that gives them confidence and courage. Be intentional and be the spark that brings them back into life that has joy and purpose !!

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