I am sitting at the canteen with a friend (who also happens to be a senior leader) sipping some filter coffee when a young colleague comes in looking dazed and badly in need of some super strong coffee.
We procure one for him and let him take a few sips of the strong, hot, relaxing brew and ask him what happened.
“Ran into a ghost or something?” we ask helpfully.
“Man, how do you senior guys pick goals for us?.” The lament has officially begun. “My boss started off talking about the need for upskilling, deep-learning and endless curiosity, almost requiring me to become like Richard Feynman!”
“See – we seniors help turn you into a genius!” the two of us say in unison.
“Guess that’s where I made my blooper” says he in a lower and more aggrieved tone.”At that point, I wise cracked that I understood why Feynman would come in handy to my boss – he had the knack of explaining complex stuff to even a 5 year-old child!”.
“And..”, we ask expecting the discussion to now be peppered with fireworks.
“Well, the guy just started reading out the next section of my goals – now requiring me to be a showman who could wow clients, take risks (but always succeed!), diversify the business..”
“Did he also mention about sporting a cool hairstyle?” asks my friend.
“Nope, but he did say something about standing apart from the crowd”, says our young friend looking perplexed.
“He was just asking you to channel your inner Richard Branson. Check the goal sheet – as a stretch goal he may require you to secure a Knighthood for yourself”.
“Give me a break – I need a tomato juice” says our young friend and moves to the counter.
Now it’s our turn to be surprised. Tomato juice following filter coffee is not something we see often.
Our friend returns from the juice bar, plonks down his beverage and breaks into a beatific smile.
“Just when I thought my boss was all done, he asks me to deal compassionately with my team, be inclusive and diverse, do mind-fullness meditation exercises and never show anger”.
“Eh?” we sputter. This is novel. “Did he have a role model for this – ahem – perfect citizen behaviour”.
“He did. He asked me to follow the writings of Matthieu Richard – who apparently is the happiest man in the world. He even suggested I try attending one of his retreats – he recommended choosing Sunday, since we occasionally worked Saturdays”.
We were impressed. This boss guy and his 3 Richard system was something else altogether. We wondered how the session ended.
Our young friend now smiled his first happy smile. “But I ended on a high and had the last laugh – I told him that I would give these Richard-behaviours a shot and return in a year – but if he then asked me to become yet another Richard – no matter who – I would turn into Richard the Terrible. The expression my boss sported on hearing this made up for all the grades in the world. Thank god, the guy at least reads Shakesphere!”