About 6 years ago, a good friend of mine, Alan Jenkins went home to the UK for a holiday with his family. Alan’s English, but has lived in Australia for a long time. His kids are Australian and have not been brought up in the quirky ways of English seaside towns. So when they visited Scarborough and walked along the promenade, the sights that welcomed them were from another world. The “Kiss Me Quick” hats, the candy floss, the rude cartoon post cards and the numerous video games and slot machine arcades blew their minds. The boys, Cameron, 11 and Ryan, 9 looked up at their dad and said “Dad, what’s this place called?” Alan replied “Scarborough”. With massive grins they just said. “This place is brilliant, it should be called #Awesomeland!!!”
Now if you’ve ever been to Scarborough, you’ll know it’s a great northern seaside town but #Awesomeland is probably not a word you would use to describe it. For some reason though, that story has always stuck with me. Since then I’ve become a massive fan of the word #Awesomeland, even though it’s not actually a real word! I think the reason is that the story just reminded me of how much wonder we are actually surrounded by, but that we so rarely notice it because we take so much for granted.
In our everyday lives, and especially in the business world, we hear so many people complaining about 1st world issues. The coffee is too expensive, the internet is too slow, traffic is terrible, my laptop takes ages to boot up and the wi-fi is shocking today!! So few of us take the time to think about what we are saying and to actually consider what we are complaining about. If we took a moment to stop and actually see the wonder in everything around us, would we be happier?
I entered the work force in a small office as a trainee quantity surveyor back in 1987. In those days the mobile phone had been invented but it was the size of a brick with a car battery to run it and in my world, no-one had ever seen one. We shared a few desktop computers between the whole team and there was no World Wide Web or email. A fax was about as good as it got and that used those rolls of very thin paper, that just irritatingly rolled on the floor when it came out of the fax. Nowadays, we cannot imagine a world without computers, email and mobile phones and yet all we do is moan about them. Obviously these have brought their own issues, with 24 hours connectivity and added stress to managing deadlines with information overload, but this technology and these devices are awesome. The question is, do we ever stop and think about their value and just how marvellous these things are?
I remember being in New York and Apple had just released their latest iPod. The wheel version had been replaced by the new touch screen version and could play videos. The assistant gave me a demo and I remember watching the ‘Fix You’ music video by Cold Play on this tiny device. The hairs on my neck stood up and I almost became emotional with excitement just watching in absolute awe. If I’d come across the word back then I would have said to the apple genius “This is just #Awesomeland!!!” Now I complain when a YouTube video won’t stream or the resolution isn’t up to the standards that I expect.
So when do we go from #Awesomeland amazement to run of the mill blasé? How does it affect how we feel, our level of happiness and how we perform at work?
I truly believe that if we could take the time to stop, just once every day and take a moment to understand the wonders we are surrounded by, it could change how we feel. Stuff we take for granted, stuff as simple as the lifts we take, trams we catch and even flushing toilets, to the marvels of modern medicine. Things that just make life easier which too often we all take for granted. There is so much real unhappiness in the world and so much still to do in finding answers to real issues like famine, war and homelessness, to name just a few. If we all just stopped and took a moment, to take in and appreciate the wonder for a few minutes every day, what we’ve personally achieved, the advancements in technology and the ease that we live our lives in today’s society, surely this would jolt us into a better frame of mind. To be more mindful, more inquisitive and perhaps even drive us to develop thinking to do greater things that others will think is #Awesomeland.
As a business leader I’m always trying to find the #Awesomeland in as many things and situations as possible. I’ve found over the years that if you can find excitement in all that we do, engagement levels within a team can go through the roof. I understand we all have mundane tasks that we have to do, but if we can find the fun in them in some small way, they become more enjoyable. My challenge to industry and its leaders, is to find the wonder in what we do every day and make sure that we all stop, recognise and appreciate it.
I’ve become passionate about finding the excitement and #Awesomeland for Melbourne, so a few of us have undertaken a research programme, whose mission is “To put the smile on Melbourne’s face”. It’s a fascinating idea and I’ll be posting updates of how we are progressing with this research programme over the coming months.
Let me know how you are rediscovering the wonder in your everyday life and if it has improved your outlook. Let’s all try and find our #Awesomeland, our Scarborough, at least a few times a week, and start a trend for #Awesomeland.