Travelling from Brussels recently, I shared the plane with Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan. Initially campaigning on a single issue (the right of landowners to cut turf), he was elected to Dáil Éireann and subsequently became a member of the European Parliament. Love him or hate him, you’d have to admire that climb to fame from a humble start. Late on Friday evening, that flight was the ‘bus home from work’ for both of us.
Political Stories: Meeting Luke reminded me of another political story which had a different outcome. As part of the preliminary round, each Political party in Ireland selects a candidate for the BIG job, President of Ireland. Last time out, one possibility for Labour was Fergus Finlay, the CEO of Bernardos and former spokesperson for the Party. A brilliant communicator and all round good guy, I personally think that Fergus would have made a fantastic president. As an admirer (from a distance) for many years, I’d even offered to help with his campaign. That was – if – he got the nomination. He didn’t. The Labour Party chose Michael D. Higgins who was subsequently elected. Michael D. was chosen for a very specific reason i.e. because he’d previously run for office. Just like Luke Flanagan, he was a member of a particular ‘club’ – those who’d been elected. You might be a brilliant advisor – you might have 3 ‘normal’ brains – but you have to be in the club to be considered. Not in? Then you can’t win. Them’s the rules.
Inner Circle: The exact same idea of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ circles, applies in many organisations. In some organisations, you have to be a Chartered Accountant, or a trader, a trial lawyer or something else to secure the CEO role. Beyond a certain point you can’t progress unless you hold that coveted degree. All of the other people in the organisation are the equivalent of the ‘help’ (usually called support staff or something equally derogatory). However, this ‘degree apartheid’ runs the risk of overlooking the best talent, the most powerful intellect, the leadership ability waiting to be released. But, don’t rock the system. Put a red line through that name because he or she took a different path when they were choosing a college course at 19 years of age. In organization development parlance there’s a technical name for this as follows: It’s insane!
The Lesson: Talent doesn’t come pre-packaged in a particular discipline. Human capability transcends formal qualifications. Look around you. There’s diamonds everywhere. Don’t just mine in the usual places.
PS Lighter Note: Pun Time! From Tony Mooney (my brother in Canada). This is the sort of warped early childhood I had (having to listen to a similar standard of jokes).
- Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The
ceremony wasn’t much, but the reception was excellent.
- A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’ll serve
you, but don’t start anything.”
- Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.
- A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and
says: “A beer please, and one for the road.”
- Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: “Does this taste funny to you?”
- Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to
Dolly, “I was artificially inseminated this morning.” “I don’t believe
you,” says Dolly. “It’s true, no bull!” exclaims Daisy.
- An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.
- A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. “But why,” they asked, as they moved off. “Because”, he said, “I can’t stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer.”
- Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him … A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.
- And finally, there was the person who sent different puns to his friends, with the hope that at least some would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.
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