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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Personal Note

I very rarely go into a personal blog but I think that readers may indulge me on this occasion.

I had a phone call last night 16th April from my father who advised me that my grandfather Arthur passed away quietly in his sleep at the age of 100.

I reflected last night on his life and will probably reflect some more on it over the next few weeks and imagined what he had seen over 100 years of life from when he was born Edward the 7th was King and Herbert Asquith of a dominant Liberal party had just become the Prime Minister in the Liberal landslide of 1906.

He worked in one job throughout his life - working for Dunlop based in Liverpool and was their chief accountant.

He retired from Dunlop in 1968 and came out to South Africa on a holiday and stayed for 18 months working for my father. He had a pension that he drew from 1968 to 2007 longer than he had worked for the company.

He was a lifelong supporter of Liverpool FC even in their days in the old Second division and although he was in a care home in Manchester, my parents had the Liverpool Daily Post delivered to him and the nurses in the last year as his eye sight deteriorated read to him the articles relating to Liverpool win lose or draw.

He also taught me lessons in employment that belonged to his generation but they weren’t the worst outlook in life.

Accept the fact that the world changes and enjoy the ride.

He was a cautious man but recognised that human beings must progress and that our history was born of that desire. He understood that organisations had moved from being ones where machines ruled to ones where knowledge workers would drive the future organisation.

He was very proud of my thesis regarding knowledge management which he read at the age of 97 and I was very proud that he was able to comprehend how the world of work had changed.

He felt that our generation was fortunate as we had never had to know the full horror of a conventional war in Europe or had had to be conscripted.

He felt that it was your duty as an employee to give 100% to them but to go home at the end of the day and give that same level of intensity to your family.

He also felt that there was a social contract between employer and employee but recognised that the job for life could be a curse as well as a blessing.

He did not feel that managers had a monopoly of wisdom and that it was a wise manager who listened to his subordinates views and then make the decision.

He respected other peoples professionalism but expected them to respect his also once a managerial decision had been made.

The most important lessons in life he taught me were:-

‘Treat people the way you would want them to treat you’

‘Always look in the mirror when shaving and ask what you can do in your work today to make a difference. When you brush your teeth at night ask yourself whether you succeeded or where you needed to improve.

‘Continuously read and listen to things you don’t normally do - the brain is like a muscle and needs to be exercised in different ways to avoid a lopsided brain.’

Anyway, thank you for indulging me with this blog post - normal service will be resumed in a few days.

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