I quite recently attended my stepdaughter’s Speech day and Prize-giving at Taunton School, where the guest speaker was a very nice chap called Monty Halls. I have to confess to not having been familiar with Monty’s work as a TV Broadcaster, Travel Writer & Marine Biologist, but at least I can now bear testament to his abilities as an amusing and thought provoking public speaker.
The central theme of Monty’s extremely funny and self-deprecating speech (addressed unashamedly at the sixth form leavers), centred on the importance of strong personal values, as well as a developed sense of self-worth & self-belief when preparing for adult life in general, and the working world in particular. He also went on to point out that no amount of money, or indeed lack of it, should compromise our ability to be good people, good citizens, and/or good working professionals. Our core values centre us as human beings, and help to equip us to respond well to both future success and the occasional dismal failure.
Clearly, the very purpose of such a speech was to rally the spirits of the massed ranks of Sixth Form leavers, and launch them into the real world with a renewed sense of self belief. I won’t attempt to speak for the scores of demob-happy students, many of whom no doubt felt that the formalities of their Speech day were merely an aperitif to the main event of them celebrating their last day at school with their fellow class mates – but yours truly certainly left the marquee buoyed by Monty’s uplifting words and unusually frank insight.
However, upon leaving I couldn’t help but reflect on the seemingly vast chasm between the way that we as adults would like our young people to behave, and the way that we behave ourselves in our supposedly mature and grown up world. Like many people on both sides of last week’s referendum debate, I have been both saddened and dismayed by the behaviour of many of our most senior politicians, who still rather laughingly address each other as “Right Honourable”. As it would seem to me that some of the behaviour that has been witnessed within the past few days has been anything but honourable.
I digress, as I suppose the real question should be, whether we as a society still cherish the principles of honour, decency and integrity, in the same way that generations before us once did? Also, do well known old sayings like “My word is my bond” or “Let us seal the deal with a handshake” still have any place in the world as it is today? Or have we in business just benignly accepted that getting a deal done at ALL costs is now the accepted norm?
The point that I am endeavouring to make is simply this – in a contemporary world that worships financial success, is it really still important whether we act decently and with integrity in our dealings with one another? Or have such qualities become merely desirable, but in truth rather outdated given the pressures of today’s fast paced deal driven environment?
Well the truth is hard to quantify at this juncture, so I will let Sir Alan Sugar have the final word on this subject – As I distinctly remember an early episode of The Apprentice, where Sir Alan openly scolded one of his go-getting male contestants in the boardroom – when the contestant used the term “blagging it” when describing his attempts to sell a second hand car to a member of the public. Elaborating further, Sir Alan he went on to declare that during his extensive career, he had always seen repeat business with both his clients and suppliers as being fundamental to his long term success – even if on occasion, that meant short term sacrifice for long term gain, his closing words on the matter being “I was always brought up to believe that my word should mean something”.
Well, need I say more?
The author is Peter Nicholls, CEO of ideology consulting. For further information go to www.ideologyconsulting.co.uk .