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A Very Efficient Walk

I’m not long back from my annual leave. A well needed break after it felt like my business was running away with me! We took 2 weeks in North Wales and had a lovely time. I was utterly surprised by the number of things to do and the wonderful places to walk and visit. There were lots of walks, jumping off rocks into the sea and yummy meals we cooked or ate out. Between me and my partner we have three kids and we also invited one of their friends on holiday with us. Three girls and one boy in total…oh, and don’t forget the dog! While the girls all loved going on long walks, my son who is 6 years old and loves Lego, remote control cars and iPads, just can’t walk more than 250 yards without being fed. So, periodically I’d look back and see him trailing behind, dragging his feet and looking like he’s wading through mud. “I need energy” or “my batteries are running out” were the responses to my calls of motivation. So, I had to go back and coax him forward with a couple of chocolate buttons or a biscuit. This was all very well and good until I ran out of snacks!

I took it upon myself, while on holiday, to try and educate the kids too. I did this by creating little stories that had some sort of moral, but I spun it in a way they’d be interested in. I managed to tell them the story of how Henry Ford paid all his staff enough money to buy one of his cars. This didn’t just mean that his staff were happy, but it also fed his production line and helped to make him one of the most successful men of the last century. I told them about Elon Musk and how his “moon shoot” thinking was a way of inspiring others to help him achieve his noble ambition to save us all from the dwindling resources we have on our planet.

It was during this walk, when we’d ran out of chocolate and biscuits and my little boy’s batteries were running frustratingly low, that I remembered about “Herbie”. There was a book that I read during my M.Sc studies. It is called “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt. There are lots of things you can take from reading this book and then apply them to help you improve your business, but on this day, it was “Herbie” that sprung to mind. Herbie was a character in the book. He was a child in a scout troop who walked slower than everyone else on a day out walking up a mountain. In the end, after seeing the line spread out into fragments and losing control of the group, the guy leading the scout troop decided to put Herbie at the front.

Nobody could go past Herbie. This stopped the whole troop breaking apart from each other. The leader of the group got control back and they all got to the top of the mountain quicker than they would have otherwise done, all as one single group.

So, Herbie sprang to mind as we took our lovely walk with my little boy straggling behind so much. I sat everyone down on the nearest rock and explained that nobody was to pass my son, we all walked behind him. We are only as quick as our slowest – as strong as our weakest link. Well, I’m pleased to inform you that Mr. Goldratt’s advice was a very welcome memory. It worked! We all walked, stuck together as a group, we talked and laughed and giggled…all the way to the pub. Well, there must be a good pub at the end of a walk!

This wonderful walk reminded me of all the things I’ve learned over the years. It reminded me of how there are some theoretical concepts that can have a huge impact in life and on business, if understood and applied properly. I came back to work after that holiday fully charged and with a fresh outlook on my business. There are always things that we learn, things that we forget. After years of learning and forgetting, it was when I was on holiday with my family that I realised that just taking a step back, living and loving the ones you care about is the best place to look for enlightenment. I won’t forget that!

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