Turning Brexit Into Something Genuinely Positive…For You

I’ve been inspired by Brexit. Now that’s a combination of words you don’t see very often!

Perhaps I should be clearer. I’ve been inspired by the whole mind-numbingly depressing and seemingly interminable Brexit saga to do something. And when I say ‘inspired’ what I really mean is ‘frustrated beyond measure’. And ‘worried sleepless (is that the right word?) for the future of our country’.

[Note – please feel free to skip the next few paragraphs and restart from the sub-heading ‘Temporary Problem – A Temporary Solution’ to discover some good news from Illumine Training…]

It seems to me that as we creep towards March 29 some politicians are experiencing an increased frisson of excitement; as if this is somehow their moment. They all want to be ‘the one’; the hero who somehow finds a way through the seemingly unfathomable conundrums.

Fantasy Politics

The fantasy seems to be that as their big idea is unveiled, everyone will turn to each other, shaking their heads in disbelief that the idea was there all along – it just needed them to reveal it. Blue will embrace red, Remainers will warmly shake the hands of Leavers, Hard Brexiteers will enthusiastically hug the Soft Brexiteers and both will join hands with the Norway and Norway Plus folk. Politicians from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will chuckle happily about how fortunate they are to be a part of such a wonderfully inclusive and supportive union. Everyone will happily accept that although they didn’t get exactly what they wanted, the solution reached is so obviously the right way forward that it no longer seems to matter. The country wins. Hooray!

Of course, each of these brilliant politicians has also realised that the way to fulfil this fantasy – to have his or her moment in the sun – is to not be distracted by anything so stupid as listening to other people. Really, the only way to get them – everyone else – to understand, is to keep talking until they ‘get’ it. And if the way they explained it yesterday and today didn’t work, there is always tomorrow…

But our tomorrows keep becoming our todays and for many of us, our todays are becomingย  – have become – a nightmare. A nightmare that is destroying business confidence, tearing families and communities apart and obliterating our confidence in those we elected to govern this great country of ours.

It’s All About People

I am writing on the blog of a people development company – the training company that I run – Illumine Training. So perhaps I should focus on that. I’ve dedicated the last twenty-something years of my life to helping people to develop their skills and capabilities – to become better versions of themselves; more skilled, more able, more confident, more effective, more brilliant, more resilient, more creative, more fulfilled. If I were starting the business again today, I would probably call it ‘More’!

But right now instead of more there is less, much, much less…

  • growth prospects are at their lowest level for a decade
  • investment levels (including investment in people) are dramatically down
  • business and consumer confidence are plummeting

We talk to companies from a wide range of sectors every day and what we are hearing is consistent. Companies are reducing their commitment to people development activities. They are cutting costs and holding onto cash. Many are spending less on training and development. Organisations are uncertain and many are plain scared about what the future holds. Right now the situation is worse than during the 2008 financial crisis.

And our politicians keep alive their fantasies. They keep playing their games – games of brinkmanship that have frightening potential consequences. They really don’t understand or seem to care that people are genuinely terrified. Not of Brexit – although there are plenty of us scared enough about that – but of a no-deal scenario or continuing stalemate that will destroy livelihoods and communities and consign many many companies to the scrapheap.

A Temporary Problem – A Temporary Solution

Well of course it is a considerable act of faith – of optimism – to describe this situation as a ‘temporary problem’. But let’s do that. Because deciding to treat it as a temporary problem makes it easier to look for temporary solutions. And to take action. I used to have a big Greenpeace poster on a wall at home that stated that, “The optimism of the action is more valuable than the pessimism of the thought”. That sounds like a way forward.

So we realise that we can’t do much. But that is very different to not doing anything. So we are addressing one small aspect of all of this. We are doing what we can to stimulate investment in people. Until Brexit is resolved (whatever that means), we are reducing the price of our new in-house training by a massive 25%. That is akin to what we do for charities and it seems appropriate somehow as, to be honest, we all need a little charity right now. A little charity, some humility and a lot of kindness.

And who knpigs may flyows, perhaps our politicians will listen too.

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