Archive for May, 2010

Standing in the rain

May 14, 2010

Singapore rain

Singapore. I love this city, fast paced with the lines of business and pleasure blurring late into the evening. Yesterday we experienced one of the biggest storms I’ve seen in a long time. Perhaps not a typhoon as the season has long since passed but certainly the next best thing.

Just down from my hotel the road dips and winds around a concrete embankment which was rapidly filling with water, several cars already stranded. The rain continued to pelt down in sheets, the wind whipping the advertising epitaphs on the concrete walls.

Standing in the near gale force winds, a young man with a TV crew looked worried. The rain had already plastered his hair to his forehead and his black suit was starting to cling to him in ways Mr. Armani never intended. His job, I deduced from the safety of the hotel foyer, was to stand in front of a camera while the weather buffeted him about for the nation to watch.

He was the sacrificial lamb that day. It was his job to get out there, once the storm reached its peak, and do the live cross. And when a Bentley came powering around the corner and ploughed into the water coming to a shuddering halt, up to his knees in water, using the stricken Bentley as a backdrop it was his time in the sun, or in this case, the rain.

Violent storms cause huge disruptions. We sit in our living rooms feeling concern and sympathy wanting to reach out with succor and help those in trouble or less fortunate. But sympathy alone, no matter how sincere, is a one-dimensional way to respond to the world. Sympathy is only a cheap imitation of caring – unless we get out and do something. Will you respond to your storm’s disruption as the young reporter did? Is he tomorrow’s Rupert Murdock?

 Action is the ingredient in success most often overlooked. Just like sympathy, great ideas are nothing without action. Success is a reward that often has financial benefits and allows us choices to help people in any way we wish. In both business and life there’s much to be gained by being more than a casual observer. Take measured action and keep at it.

 We already know this. But if we do, why don’t we apply it to our own lives? Why aren’t we pushing ourselves towards the results that bring success, wealth and fulfilment? Is the young reporter’s discomfort and exposure to danger the action required to get him noticed at the network, is it his price to pay?

The easy response is to shy away from taking action because of the fear of failure; we’re scared of a bigger role, a higher profile. The idea of having what we want is tantalising and keeps us happy about the ‘someday’. A warm, fuzzy and reassuring feeling of future serenity.

What if we actually took action and failed? The dream is gone, the ego dinted and our personal plan of sunny days has the black storm clouds rolling in. No, better not to take the chance.

So instead, we plod along like cows coming in from the paddock at evening, regular as clockwork, utterly predictable and dependent upon whomever feeds us at the end of the day. Cows don’t take big chances. Neither do sheep. They stay close to the same territory day after day, year after year, clustered together, acting alike, grazing placidly, and never having any adventures. There are few opportunities in the fenced-in paddock. Just eat, sleep and grow old.

Perhaps a venturing soul slips through the fence, goes into the unknown and seeks out a new path. Those that seek out new places to find, new levels to achieve, new problems to solve – do we admire them because we’re not prepared to do it ourselves? Could it be as simple as standing in the rain when we would rather be at home?

Success is found outside the box. Our box. Go out there past the edge of what we already know, past the comfortable, to a place where we’re unsure of what’s waiting for us. And how do you do that? You stretch yourself. You make yourself uncomfortable, and you stay that way until you grow into it.

That’s the true (and only) price of success.