Monday, 30 April 2018


It’s the silliness but accuracy of human observation that still makes ‘Dad’s Army’ appealing. It has this ironic sense of human incompetence, despite itself, prevailing over catastrophe.

Today economic forecasts are worsening with growth figures stagnating to just + 0.1% in the first quarter, the worst figures for six years. Worse still the EU did rather well in the same quarter. Words like “collapse, slide and crisis” fill the papers. As Harold MacMillan once said when asked what Prime Minsters most feared: “Events, dear boy, events”

UK growth slows to brink of stagnation 

And this is an event. So is it time to panic? No. Is it time to tear up our aggressive growth plan? Maybe. Is it time to recalibrate our expectations? Absolutely. Panic is tremendously popular. It involves lots of action, noise and apparent leadership. Panic is essential in creating a crisis where seemingly strong people pretend they’re in charge. Steven Leacock the Canadian writer got this spot on when he wrote this:

“Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions”.

Steve Peters the famous Australian sports psychologist has a simple philosophy:

Life is unfair.

And they keep moving the goalposts.

But you can only try your best.

Yet we demand that leaders are proactive and that they get a grip. Matthew Parrish in Saturday’s Times describes the dilemma of a Secretary of State who inherits pockets of unpleasant history and is expected to have read, considered and interrogated every memo, e-mail or conversation relating to these specific issues. In particular our current Home Secretary seems not to have assimilated a six page memo on Windrush. Not surprising really. I hate six page memos and I’m in in good company. Winston Churchill in his famously short memo entitled “Brevity” says this at the start:

"To do our work, we all have to read a mass of papers. Nearly all of them are far too long. This wastes time, while energy has to be spent in looking for the essential points,"

What we need is patience not panic.

The urgency of social media has created panic via a tyranny which demands spontaneous as opposed to considered decisiveness. We are living in a crisis ridden present. We are having existential crises - moments at which individuals questions if their life has meaning, purpose, or value. Yes that’s May, Corbyn, Rudd and the rest in the weekend just past.

We all live in a world of optimistic targets, the missing of which is a criminal sin. But you can only do your best and only by recalibrating your growth trajectory can you return to a world of sanity, common sense free of that bastard panic.

Consider Monty Don, who presents ”Gardener’s World.” Impressively laid back like most gardeners he watches nature unfold every year and works with it. He doesn’t drive change management programmes. And he doesn’t panic  - he just seems rather sensible.

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