11 November 2013

Last week, two ideas combined seamlessly, almost serendipitously, merging the creative with the technical to create a truly magical occasion at UKFast.

I’ve been thinking about it over the weekend and it dawned on me that this incredible occasion was the natural result of people coming together to support each other.

We were due to have Manchester Camerata in to rehearse in our new auditorium (we’ll share some photos soon – watch this space). I’m lucky enough to be on their board of directors and I knew that rehearsal time was their biggest challenge; getting the right space without completely blowing the budget. It got me thinking, why don’t we create an auditorium that everyone can use? We’ve got this huge space to transform into something great; why not?

By involving the Camerata in this process, we’ve got a better result than we would have done. We’ve jointly created this incredible space. They specified polished concrete so now the sound of music resonating in that room is extraordinary. We’ve created something magical by accident!

Earlier this year, I’d also been asked by Diane Modahl to coach a group of the young athletes taking part in programmes set up by her sports foundation. I realized that the experiences that we all have – in music, sport and business – aren’t too dissimilar. To become an incredible violinist or an incredible cellist, it’s the same sort of discipline that we need. It’s the same sorts of energy and passion that you need to get to the top of your game no matter what your discipline is, whether it’s the violin, running or business.

I thought it would be really nice to amalgamate the two ideas that we’d had. So we did! After the Camerata finished rehearsing, they came over and the two Giovanni’s – the cellist and violinist – played something for us all. It was breath taking.

So, what did a group of young people from Manchester take from listening to a piece of classical music? More than you might think. Looking around, I could see the emotion on the kids’ faces and see them really responding. They were looking at these musicians – and classical music itself – from a different viewpoint; being inches away and feeling the energy and – quite literally – the vibrations from the instruments. It was a wonderful cultural experience.

To have created this by accident was amazing. It’s an understatement to say that I felt honoured to have something like this happening in the office. It’s hard to describe. It was definitely one of those tear-in-your-eye moments. There were a couple of times where I had to take myself aside and just gather my thoughts.

Talking to the young athletes about the power of belief – and the negative power of limiting belief – really intensified that huge sense of creative energy. I would love to help some of them get on the podium at the Olympics.

A lot of the philosophies that can take you to the top in business are the same as those that take you to the top in sport. I’m not saying that I’m at the top of business yet but I’m on the journey. It’s a journey that I’m sure will continue to challenge me but I’ve got a pretty good idea of how to get where I want to be and of the attitude and focus needed along the way.

If I can transfer that to some of these young people’s minds then why wouldn’t I? That’s the only real way to inspire the next generation and generations after that – to pass on knowledge and equip them with the right tools to get to the top, to compete at the highest levels but also to deal with expectations. How can we get them focused and driven without making them unhappy?

I have lots of daft ideas. I’m sure Gail would confirm that if you asked. Very few of them work but if the ones that do, work as well as they did yesterday then could I really ask for much more?



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