Talk of the UK being a ‘broken society’ makes me angry.
A failure to put things in perspective may cost us dearly, economically, socially, emotionally – and creatively.
Prior to the recent ‘highly localised riots in three main English conurbations’ I wrote a blog about how, on an individual level, if you want to achieve anything in life, you need to draw inspiration from two former English footballers – Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle.
And I think the same lessons need to be adopted by our society.
I need to elaborate here.
The late, great football manager Sir Bobby Robson reckoned there were two types of players: there was a Chris Waddle, gifted, talented, but sometimes lazy or wasteful, leading to a failure to fulfil his potential. To motivate a Waddle, according to Sir Bobby, every so often you need to provide a good kick up the backside.
In contrast there is a Peter Beardsley; the worst thing you can do to this type of character is to lambaste them – or place your foot anywhere near their bottom. Instead, they need a supportive arm around the shoulder, a quite word of affirmative support, to restore and get them up and going again.
To suggest we have a ‘broken society’ is inaccurate, unhelpful, and will actually impede future progress.
No, I am not a positive thinking ‘all-the-world-is-wonderful’ person; in my innovation and creativity teachings I highlight how pessimism is good – in fact, it’s the creatives’ best friend.
Rather, we have precious resources: ourselves, our networks, and our wider society. And the best management of these dimensions is to regularly give ourselves a ‘Peter Beardsley’.
Analyse your self-talk, the voice in your head – and the self-talk of our society. More often than not, it is likely to be critical, negative or demeaning. Instead, be kind to ourselves. Identify the inherently good about us and our society, the positives we have achieved rather than dwell on any notional failures or shortcomings.
Nor am I being complacent. I am not suggesting in any we ignore, or make light of the recent isolated disturbances. There is valuable feedback and genuine responses which need to be made.
It is here our society ought to give itself a ‘Chris Waddle’; it is an almighty kick-start to get yourself sorted, stop moping, and go and attack your future with added relish and zeal.
It is not about punishing – it is about learning, and creatively doing better in the future.
It is about identifying the shortcomings and real lessons. It’s a feast on humble pie and we-must-learn-from-this gravy. Using this feedback we can do things different for the future.
Giving ourselves a ‘Chris Waddle’ is not to wantonly beat ourselves up. Rather it is identifying where we strayed from our core qualities and failed to address any fundamentals.
Giving ourselves a ‘Chris Waddle’ is not just about reframing a negative into a positive. It is about making use of the latent energy within us, the anger, the desire for revenge, and potential bitterness, to transform it into a positive energy to go forward.
Giving ourselves a ‘Chris Waddle’ is about rekindling your efforts to ‘get back to basics’ and work even harder but focussing our determination to rebuild a better ‘we’.
I would suggest 95% of the time we need to give ourselves ‘Peter Beardsley’s’ and maybe, no more than 5%, probably less, the occasional ‘Chris Waddle’.
Our society is not perfect. Yet, I remember a statistic about how the average Amazonian tribesman is 50% likely to have been involved in a murder. I suspect in earlier years our society would have been similar.
Contrast to modern-day living, where in nearly all instances you do something as trivial as inadvertently bumping into someone, which is usually met with a ‘sorry’ – even if it wasn’t their fault.
Just watch the BBC TV series ‘Who do you think you are?’ where celebrities trace their family trees. One frequent experience is the revelation of how hard a life and circumstances our ancestors had to endure. Maybe the words of another Tory Prime Minister – Harold Macmillan – might be more apt when he said: ‘We have never had it so good’.
Sure, current squeezes on household budgets create discomfort – apparently for most it takes us back to a level of ten years ago: I don’t remember being in the workhouse then – but in previous generations my ancestors were.
I am not an outright optimist: I am genuinely concerned about world peace with an emergent, powerfulChina; I am worried about inherent systemic failures in western economic systems; and the threat of environmental catastrophe truly does cloud our future.
Yet all these are even more reasons to savour the now, enjoy the present and pose one of the most beautiful questions in our armoury: ‘What can I do now to make the most of my situation?’
Let’s get things in perspective about our world here in the UKso that collectively we can make the most of our situation: it is not a broken society.
True, it is a ‘scarred society’, blemished by recent events.
It is in danger however, of being a ‘scared society’, failing to realize its true position and creatively make use of all its assets and potential.
I hope you are going to join me now and enjoy a ‘Peter Beardsley’ – while being mindful that you might, just occasionally, also need a ‘Chris Waddle’.