I’ve been using this story recently, especially in relation to the skills audit. We haven’t had too much success with getting this off the ground for one reason or another but I am reminded about the story of Gillian Lynne. I don’t remember when I came across it but it popped up again in ‘Talk like TED’ by Carmine Gallo. Every time I come across it I end up with moist eyes and a lump in my throat.
You can find it in the internet but I have paraphrased it as follows. When Gillian was a young girl, she struggled in school. She had a hard time focusing and fidgeted a lot. We would probably now say she had ADHD. She was so disruptive that her mother took her to a psychologist to get help. The psychologist asked Gillian’s mother lots of questions but all the time was carefully watching Gillian. Eventually, Gillian’s mother and the psychologist stopped talking. The man rose from his desk, walked to the sofa, and sat next to the little girl.
‘Gillian, you’ve been very patient’ he said. ‘I’m afraid you’ll have to be patient for a little longer. I need to speak to your mother in private now. We’re going to go out of the room for a few minutes but don’t worry, we won’t be very long.’ The two adults left Gillian sitting there on her own. As he was leaving the room, the psychologist leaned across his desk and turned on the radio to a music channel.
As soon as they were in the corridor outside the room, the doctor said to Gillian’s mother, ‘Just stand here for a moment, and watch what she does.’ There was a window into the room, and they stood to one side of it, where Gillian couldn’t see them. Nearly immediately, Gillian was on her feet, moving around the room to the music. They stood watching her for a few minutes, transfixed by what she was doing. Eventually the psychologist turned to Gillian’s mother and said, ‘You know, Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick. She’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.’
Gillian Lynne went on to be a very successful ballet dancer with some of the world’s finest companies.
Now what is it about this story that gets me every time? Well, this is the essence of our skills audit. I doubt if we have many ballet dancers amongst my team but we all have beauty inside us and I know we have many skills and talents that go unseen. I want a self-organised work force where those that can are allowed to do. This takes people to recognise the skills that exist in both themselves and others. So this is my interest in and hence the link to the story.
It is my sincerely held view that people are good at what they enjoy doing and people enjoy doing what they are good at. It is a virtuous circle yet sometimes it takes others to see the talents and skills we possess.
I’ve asked Steve to carry on with the skills audit.