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No, I am…


 Gladiators, television and a killer question - this week's blog has it all!

Having spent many years teaching time management, I’d love to be able to say that my every waking hour is full of productive activity and that no spare moment goes wasted.  The truth, however, is that – like everyone, I suppose – sometimes I enjoy a bit of “down time” and that includes indulging in a bit of trash-TV once in a while.

Oh, I could try to justify it or dress it up in some deep-seated psychological mumbo-jumbo or pass it off as “sharpening my saw” but the truth is, I just enjoy switching my brain off and watching something mindlessly entertaining for a while.  Previous guilty pleasures have included Celebrity Big Brother and America’s Next Top Model (I know, I know – don’t judge me) but my current obsession is with Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which I’m now watching for the second time.

If you haven’t seen it, I won’t attempt to describe it in too much detail because it is all but indescribable and I’m fairly sure I won’t do it justice.  Imagine the film 300 but turned up to 11 (311?) and you’re getting somewhere close. It’s the story of a Roman gladiator (bear with me here) but it’s so much more than that and somehow manages to be, at the same time, the single most violent and most camp programme I’ve ever seen.  All of the actors are terribly good looking and buff, and look exceptionally good in their togas or little leather pants. As if that wasn’t enough, in a further attempt to add some sense of time/place, the dialogue is written in a slightly arcane fashion designed, I suspect, to mimic Latin.  It throws up some interesting insults (which are NSFW, so I’ll spare you) but also one phrase that recurs a lot and to which I’m becoming increasingly attached.

It’s a simple phrase but it’s one that doesn’t get asked often enough, in what delegates on my workshops like to call “the real world,” which I take to mean anything that happens outside of the training room. I see many delegates, many managers, many team members who would benefit from asking this question more often.  The question is, “To what end?” Or, put more simply, “What are you trying to achieve?”

I don’t think we ask this question anything like often enough; trying to understand whyyou’re being asked to do something can only benefit you and make that thing more meaningful.  It can also only make it more likely that you’ll do a good job.  You might even find out, early on in the process, that the person asking you to do it has absolutely no clear idea of what they’re trying to achieve.

So the next time you’re asked to do something but you’re not entirely sure why; the next time you decide to do something but you’re not entirely clear of the purpose, take a tip from a trashy TV programme.  Think of yourself as a business gladiator.  Pull on your wing tip sandals, gird your pin-striped loins and ask: “to what end?” It will make all the difference…

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