11 Feb What We In Business, and Around the World, Can Learn from ANZAC Day
The alarm buzzed at 5.00am, our daughter knocked on our front door at 5.45am and by 6.00am we were standing in the drizzling rain, in the dark, beside a fire-pit, in our local town of Sunbury, Victoria as a growing crowd gathered to commemorate the 101st Anzac Day.
Standing beside us was Sergeant Danielle McClelland, a ten-year veteran of the Royal Australian Air Force, having served in the Middle East, jacket emblazoned with medals she had so aptly earned. Sergeant McClelland is our daughter and this was the first time we had spent Anzac Day together.
As we were having breakfast, the topic of different medals came up and I mentioned something about someone winning the Victoria Cross for Australia (VC), the highest medal for bravery. In an instant, my daughter and her friend, quickly corrected me on the fact that you don’t ‘win’ medals!
‘It is not like a raffle, Mum’, she said, ‘You don’t win medals, you earn them’.
And that got me thinking.
When are those moments we assume we deserve to win something?
In fact, how often do we assume we are worthy of anything – respect, love, appreciation, business?
And yet we haven’t even earned the right.
How often do we ‘put in’, or serve over and above?
In business, we are not expected to put our whole life on the line as those in the Defence Force accept may happen to them, but how often do we put parts of our life on hold to do more than the average, to put in the extra 1%, to ask the extra question, make the extra call, meet the extra person, so that we are worthy of earning the right to do good business?
Because, we too, belong to a Force – a Sales Force!
So, how might we compare our mental readiness, our personal leadership, our bravery, our agility, our motivation, our raison d’etre, or our executive presence in comparison to someone who is on another front line, in a competitive environment and ready to win at any cost?
Food for thought!
ANZAC Day morning, whilst a sombre moment, is also filled with great camaraderie, pride, fun, reflection and respect – and a morning for 2-Up and a drink. And not just for those who have previously served to protect us or those who are currently in places we would rather not be, but representative of those shared values many of us have in common.
There is always so much to take away from moments such as these and here are some of my thoughts, and those shared values, overlaid into the world of business:
Community: The crowds are growing year on year across our country regardless of age, gender and culture, in an effort that commemorates, not celebrates, ANZAC Day – one remembers, and one parties, and to know the difference is important. That couldn’t have been demonstrated more beautifully than when our daughter was chosen to represent ANZAC Day across our greater community. Her story of service at home and abroad and the meaning behind her story was printed and delivered to thousands of letterboxes in our region. It was not only a wonderful moment as a parent but for her as a role model to the community. We can all be a role model and contribute to any community we belong to, whether it be in the office or at home. What do you do to contribute and where do you show up to do that?
Commitment: I’d love a dollar for every salesperson I heard say their #1 Value was ‘SUCCESS”. I’d love another dollar for every salesperson that said those words yet wasn’t prepared to do what it took to be successful. Seeing the catafalque party, four members of an armed guard who stand, heads bowed and their arms (weapon) reversed, facing outward approximately one metre from the corner of the memorial symbolising respect for those who have fallen, can sometimes find themselves in a situation where they physically falter and fall – whether that be from physical exhaustion or mental exhaustion. Seeing a young cadet this morning falter and then continue to take his stand showed that commitment. Hearing the bagpipe player begin his tune and falter because he was way off key, and then to hear him pick himself up again and continue regardless, showed that commitment. How often do we give up the ghost, blame others, walk away or give in when we, ourselves, falter or fall? Staying the distance and doing whatever it takes is what it means to play the long game. We need to learn the long game, especially when our back is against the wall, if we want true success.
Respect: Having a personal tour by the President of the RSL saw us wander through the memorabilia hall, seeing artifacts, uniforms, beer bottles, love letters, photos, artillery, death certificates and stories of kids who went to war, served their country, fought on the front line doing what they had to do to get the job done, yet not come home. We heard stories of leaders and chaplains who were ordered to stay away from the front line and instead perform their duty of ‘command and control’, yet broke the rules to fight beside their men – a sign of true equality and respect for their people. The sooner a leader realises that coming down from their pedestal, demonstrating vulnerability and truly connecting with their people is how they earn true respect, then business will be stronger.
Values: As the President of our RSL stated, “ANZAC Day is not about evangelism or anzac-tising, it is about shared values”. Once your values are aligned with what you are doing, you have purpose and will do more than is ever asked of you. When a business understands the personal values of its people, or a leader understands the personal values of its team members, or a salesperson identifies the personal values of a buyer and aligns those values with the business, then there is purpose, decisions are made, competitive lines are crossed and sacrifices are worth it.
Lastly: is having fun!
We all know how to have fun, to laugh, to smile, to be enthused and to be inspired – and some of us need to remind ourselves to break rank, stand down and take leave more often than we do, so we can have more fun and connect more fully with others.
This post is one of pride, awe and admiration for our daughter
For the 19 year old kid fresh out of school who ‘signed up’ (and stood up here), for the years she spent wearing ‘cams’ every day instead of makeup, heels and a skirt, for being on exercise for weeks at a time in the bush with no luxuries let alone ‘basics’, for being a sole woman in a most often times 100% male environment, for not being able to pop home for a cuppa for close to ten years, for having to relocate whenever she was told, for not having the flexibility of going outside her chain of command, for making Sergeant in under ten years, for spending nearly a year in a war zone.
Lest We Forget!
And in the spirit of Anzac Day, this is not my ‘Last Post’ 🙂
Be Bold and Brilliant,
Bernadette McClelland is a Keynote and Sales Kick-Off Speaker, Executive Sales Leadership Coach, and published author. CEO of 3 Red Folders she ensures her clients create double digit, sustainable sales growth and marketplace differentiation through unique programs based on ‘The NeuroScience of Sales Leadership and Sales Process’
Image courtesy of my camera: A woman leading an army of men