Much ink has been spilt over the story of the SNCF (French national railway company) and its trains that were too wide for railway stations. But what struck me most of all about this story wasn’t the mistakes made at management level, but the SNCF’s statement: “no one is responsible”.
Denying responsibility has become rather fashionable lately.
These days if I fall off my bike because the pavement is uneven, I accuse the local council of negligence. If a child does something stupid in the playground, the supervisors are often called into question.
On the other hand, when an employee at an after-sales service counter deals with our problem as if it were his/her own company, we are surprised and delighted. We praise his/her commitment and the responsibility he/she is prepared to take for the problem.
What if we modelled ourselves on this employee, instead of blaming some authority or other?
Taking responsibility for something is first and foremost about being honest. I don’t lose face if I admit that I’ve failed, made a mistake or got something completely wrong.
What about you? Are you capable of being honest with yourself and taking responsibility for things?
Being an optimist is a state of mind. Seeing the glass as half full, an opportunity in a crisis or failure as a learning opportunity are some of the qualities that enable you to lead a better life… And live longer! It’s scientifically proven.
Knowing all this, a handful of die-hard optimists created the league of optimists in 2010. Will it change the world? Pessimists would say that the league is totally insignificant and meaningless.
The optimist in me sees it as the start of something big. The beginning of a huge snowball effect that has only just been set in motion. Imagine all the creativity, impetus and unbridled enthusiasm that a huge wave of optimism would generate.
Everyone has the gift of optimism, you just need to let it out! Are you going to join the movement to change the world around you where you live and right across Europe and the globe?
People who have had face lifts are easy to spot. Their skin is a little too smooth, a little too stretched but most of all it is out of sync with the age of their body.
Their new youthful face is not in harmony with their body, their life experiences, and what their eyes say about them.
Sometimes I resent the wrinkles that are starting to appear around my eyes and on my forehead. But every one of those fine lines is the result of a fit of the giggles, a minor irritation, smiles and other experiences that made me who I am today.
So even though I feel that my body is less “fresh”, it tells the story of my life, the good times and the bad, and of that I’m proud!
What about you? How do you approach all the signs of these life experiences on your body? Do they bother you or do you see them as shaping who you are today?
Somebody asked me recently who my favourite character is. I immediately replied: Mary Poppins. Explaining why was a bit more difficult.
Is it because her songs are catchy? Her teaching methods amusing? The hilarious penguins? A bit of all that, but most of all I love her way of seeing every challenge and obstacle as an opportunity, as something interesting and fun.
She suggests taking a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. Isn’t the bitter taste of a particular task often altered by the way it is presented or even by our own attitude?
After thinking about it, I know why Mary is my favourite character. I would like to give the world a spoonful of sugar to make it a bit sweeter!
What about you, who is your favourite character? Why are you inspired by him or her?
17 years ago we met a man called Charly, our tour guide in the United States. He was professional, patient and certainly knew his stuff, and we soon struck up a friendship with him.
Every 5 years or so, he sends me an email telling me he’s going to be in Paris. Each time he comes, we meet up for a meal or go for a walk together. The conversation always starts just where we left off 5 years earlier. I enjoy listening to him tell us about his latest travels and how patiently he deals with stressed-out clients.
He always comes across as very kind. He never sounds aggressive. His tone of voice is as gentle as his words. It’s very relaxing to listen to him telling his stories.
He is the epitome of a truly wonderful person. I’m sure you know some truly wonderful people too. But have you ever told them? I’m telling you about all this from inside a bubble of happiness – Charly would definitely be pretty embarrassed about it if he knew:)
What about you? How are you going to tell the truly wonderful people that you know just how lovely they are, and encourage them to continue making the world a gentler place?