Brilliance Vs. Persistence. The debate is finally answered!



I was invited to play at a ‘retirement party’ in the city. Betty, a friend of my wife Linda, was finishing up with Dublin County Council. After long service, she wanted to mark the occasion by lining up some music on the night. A good ‘send off’ as they say (normally, at funerals). I agreed on one condition; there had to be at least one other person playing.  For sure, it’s possible to do a 1-Man-Band and excite the crowd if you have talent like Christy Moore. My talent is more Homer Simpson-ish! So, Betty lined up two other people to play and the ‘band’ were set for the gig of the century.

Kick-Off: We arrived at about 8:30pm Some of the crowd in the pub had started drinking directly after work (5pm) and were ‘feeling no pain’ by the time we got there. When the speeches finished, we tuned up and started to play. These are informal sessions. There is no ‘stage’ and no playlist; you play whatever comes into your head or respond to requests. The trick is to play crowd-pleaser songs, shamelessly courting popularity and free Heineken.

Low-Key: Most of the gang just ignored us and kept talking; the music was a backdrop. At that stage of the gig it always seems as if we are interfering with the night and people would prefer to talk in peace. I said to one of the other guys: “This is hard going” but he was philosophical: “In Ireland, your best song is brutal at 9 and your worst song will be brilliant at midnight. Hang in”. It took a bit of time but the crowd slowly started to warm up. By the end of the night, they were singing like Welsh coalminers and dancing like Lady Gaga. In a couple of hours, we’d morphed from zero to hero.

Slow Burn: Sometimes, managing follows the same trajectory.  In trying to improve organization performance, we search for the magic bullet solution, breakthrough thinking, the discovery of ‘oil’. But, most progress in organizations is made by stealth, a steady forward momentum. It’s not always exciting, particularly at the front end.  You just have to remember that results pay the bills. A tough process is forgotten when you eventually deliver. Pain has no memory. In my experience, managing is more often persistence than brilliance. Bill Bradley said: Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in”. In similar vein the UK’s best-known executive coach Dr. Catherine Sandler said: “We judge ourselves by our intentions; but others judge us by our behaviour”. In trying to improve your own performance or turn your organization around, the message is simple: don’t give up!


PS: Lighter Note: Some notes on being persistent with your kids:

  1. You spend the  first two years of their life teaching them to walk and  talk. Then you spend the next sixteen telling them to sit down and shut up.
  2. Grandchildren are God’s reward for not killing your own children.
  3. Children  seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for  word
    what you shouldn’t have said.
  4.  The main purpose of holding children’s  parties is to remind yourself that  there are other children more awful than your  own.

PPS: Tiny bit bored at work? Here’s an idea to get the heart pumping

Have a look at this incredible aviation video (courtesy of Sean O’Connel). Not for the faint hearted…

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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2 Responses to Brilliance Vs. Persistence. The debate is finally answered!

  1. midwifesean says:

    A gem of a piece this week Paul. Can I join your band ?! By the philosophy you’re illustrating , we all will be happily paying our water charges happily , as long as we are drunk . Tog go bog e .

  2. midwifesean says:

    A gem of an article this week Paul. Made me smile . And December is all about raising spirits , literally, figuratively, actually ! Then judge my behaviour and shelve those intentions , well ’til new year anyhow . Tog go bog e.

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