When I was a student I used to work security be it pubs, concerts or private functions. It paid reasonably well and suited the lifestyle of a full-time student who was also training with state teams. A good night was simply watching girls with big hair dancing around their handbags to Bananarama at the 21st Century Dance Club at the Pier Hotel in Frankston (a place that remains a shithole). Followed by a few hours sleep and then off to team training and then off to uni to find a quiet place to have another sleep. On a weekend I could find myself wandering around a concert I got into for free simply telling people not toss one another into the air on blankets because gravity always wins an argument.
On a bad night I occasionally ran into the hard edge of human stupidity and ordinariness. As a keen observer of people, it was fascinating to watch how people ran their lives and it was during this time that I formulated my view that people who are unsuccessful be it financially, emotionally, psychologically or physically don’t just made one bad decision – they tend to make several. Some are big, and some are small, but they are cumulative, and this gradual accretion of errors takes a toll.
The issue is that success and failure leave a trail behind the individual that is generally of their own making. Baring the occasional random catastrophic misfortune that sometimes befalls people most people are were they are because of the people they are and the choices they have made. A lot of life comes down to a terribly ruthless calculus that balances your good decisions against your bad decisions and the decisions you make are a function of who you are. Granted none of our decisions can ever be perfect because we are limited in the time we have to make a decision, the quality of the information we have and our own capacity to process and understand information.
What got me reminiscing of my time working security is that LB and I have been doing a few seminars of late and you get out of practice dealing with large groups and their associated quirks. It is not that the seminars contained a lot of big hair, shoulder pads and 80s synth pop but rather that groups have characteristics that are common to them all. Most are decent and well behaved which was my experience in pubs but as they say there is always one. At the end of our functions we generate feedback forms this always gives us an idea of what can be improved and what topics people might be interested in and it is here that you can always find that one and there is always one.
What is intriguing is that the feedback is often representative of the city you have visited. The Gold Coast is happy and generally cheery because it’s the Gold Coast and they get too much sun over the winter. In Perth they just seem to be grateful that someone has taken the time to visit them. Post the mining boom they don’t seem to get many visitors. In Melbourne we had feedback from someone that they already knew everything in the presentation. The problem was they had left their name on it and we know that they have never placed a trade. It is not unusual for us Melbournians to talk a big game, after all we do crap on relentlessly about being the world’s most liveable city. Which to me simply means we have far too many hipster wankers prowling the streets with stupid Ned Kelly beards, man buns, waistcoats and hats that should have disappeared in the 1950’s.
In Sydney we had a minor problem in that LB had picked up a nasty infection whilst we were in Perth and the consequence of this was that she had totally lost her voice and was communicating via a series of notes and signs. Laryngitis is a condition that is hardly conducive to giving a good presentation, so it was decided that instead of cancelling the function I would simply do the entire day. The feedback from one individual was the LB had been totally unprofessional by not presenting. They had seemed to miss that point that she couldn’t speak at all and the alternative was simply cancelling.
Feedback is not the issue in fact it is largely an irrelevancy in this context. What is relevant is how revealing it is about the individual that delivers it. As I said success leave clues and one of the clues is how others position their own lives in the context of others. Incumbent within this for these sorts of individuals is to position their own inadequacies as part of an impost generated by others. The most useful and positive feedback we receive comes from the most successful people within our trading groups. The least successful cant seem to understand that they are the drivers of their own lives. For them a mirror is something that reflects all the misfortunes that they perceive have been foisted upon them because of the actions of others. In no way does it show the consequences of their own actions.
And we come back to my universe law – there is always one and the trick is not to be that one.