I was 4 years old when I attended my first business meeting. I wasn’t invited and had no formal part in the agenda, but I made a pretty memorable contribution, if I remember correctly.
My dad often met with work colleagues in our home. Sometimes this was informal, though on this day, I remember everyone was in suits and ties. Surely they must want some juice, poured from my tea set kettle, in to my tiny cups and saucers? Yes, good idea – I’ll just go in, and start the afternoon tea.
Now that I inhabit the corporate business world, I can only imagine what I may have been interrupting. It would have been easier and entirely appropriate, to be ushered out of the room to play somewhere else. But, I remember only that we had a lovely tea party, and everyone enjoyed their juice and thanked me very much.
On a completely mammoth scale, who can forget the BBC World Skype interview when a business journalist was classically ambushed by his two kids bursting into his office…followed by his horrified wife dragging the kids out again. Not a welcome interruption for him at the time, but the world empathized, and despite his fears about his career going down the toilet, quite the opposite is true. There’s even a cartoon series in development!
On a not so significant scale, I had my own Skype video moment recently when working from home, and Darragh decided to make an appearance during a conference call on his return from nursery. Luckily, it wasn’t BBC World on the line, but a team meeting with colleagues in Chicago.
At last, some sense from the Nixon home: his marketing skills are top notch, and gave us food for thought following his 2 hours in the sand and water tray. He soon got tired and went back on the hunt for any screen showing Paw Patrol, and the meeting continued as normal.
Interruptions like this (they don’t all have to feature cute kids) make us react in panic because we have a plan and an agenda, and we want to get from point A to point B unscathed, and in control. But when you think about it, isn’t everything in life just one interruption after another?
I’m not suggesting we don’t make plans or set a direction for what we want to achieve – but how we react to change along the way, and adapt to what’s in front of us, says a lot about the impact we make on others. I know my dad didn’t come up with this quote, but he said it often and it is one that he truly lived by:
People will forget what you said, and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
If I had been told to leave my dad and the businessmen alone to talk, I would have brushed it off and wouldn’t have remembered anything about it. Instead, the impromptu tea party was welcomed with open arms and it turned out to be one of my earliest memories, of a very happy and important day for that girl of 4 years old.