My fellow colleagues, across our amazing Group.
We’ve got to the end of 2020!
Merry Christmas everybody! And congratulations for your contribution to another enormous year!
Who’d have thought it would be such a roller coaster, with so many unexpected demands and changes for all of us, both as individuals and as a collective – and not just us, but staff and providers right across our industry, right across our Country, and even more so abroad.
This year we’ve been under pressure because of the pandemic, because of increased demand on our services, because of increasing demands for quality and high performance from clients and from the Department, because of increase demand on our finances, and because of more and more changes and new requirements – the list goes on.
At the same time, we’ve seen staff across the board adapting and rising to the bar; taking on more and remaining agile; learning and growing and developing professionally; stepping out and trying new ways of working; staying the course and taking the long term view.
We’ve seen Care Forward take on huge amounts of Emergency CHSP Funding to address the COVID crisis, and huge amounts of new Home Care Packages. Beyond all expectations this year Care Forward reached and exceeded the milestone of 400 aged care packages, and at this trajectory will reach 500 much sooner than we had ever anticipated. And before this year is out, we’ll hear the outcome of a major Transitional Care Packages application for the North West that we have submitted, to hopefully expand further into post hospital restorative care.
We’ve seen Care Consultancy managing a major influx of new staff and subcontractors, battling an incredibly tight budget, adjusting to enormous pressure from the Department around our KPIs, having to manoeuvre to increase our outputs, increase our efficiency, and do more with less. Beyond all forecasts, Care Consultancy’s existing management and admin staff have wrangled a level of organisational complexity and sophistication that far exceeds what any of us could have been prepared for, in what is still a Small to Medium Enterprise.
2020 was a year that I remembered a classic book by Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan from The Impossible Institute, that I was originally to fearful and lazy to read back in 2015, when we first needed to establish Care Forward, Care Consultancy and Care Assess as separate operations: the title of the book is called “Selfish, Scared, and Stupid” and as the name suggests it is a book about human nature and behavioural psychology, and how individuals and organisations can actually do much better by stopping the fight against our natural tendencies and predispositions, but instead work with and use our innate instincts of selfishness, fear and laziness to actually increase our performance, our effectiveness and efficiency.
It is an incredibly insightful and remarkable book that turns on its head the guilt trip we often give ourselves about our lack of altruism, self-confidence and work ethic, which is often so counterproductive.
None of us will probably ever forget the toilet paper panic buying and stock piling that we all as a society took part in earlier this year, and it so vividly reminded me of the basic premise of the book: it is actually useless to try not to or expect others not to act from the basic instincts of ‘selfish, scared and stupid’ – this is actually impossible. It is just how we are wired; it’s the only way we survive as creatures on this planet – it is the only reason why we are all still here.
Instead, what we need to do is work out how we can work with it and re-frame the way in which we all simply have to think and act as human beings who are “90% chimp and 10% honeybee” (to quote Jonathan Haidt).
‘Selfish’, ‘Scared’, and ‘Stupid’ are just labels and code terms (so forgive the alliteration); they’re labels for our ‘what’s in it for me?’ nature, our ‘fright or flight’ responses, and our ‘I can’t be bothered?’ mindset.
In other words, our tendencies to put number one first, and secondly, to look after number one, and thirdly, to be lazy.
The reality is that it is not wrong and bad that we are selfish, it is good and right. In nature, utter selflessness leads to extinction; it is only the selfish that survive through competition, adaptation, by successfully reproducing, which is what evolution by natural selection is all about.
It is not wrong and bad to be scared, it is good and right. In reality, it is not the fearful, the cautious, the conscientious, the risk adverse who end up dying young – it is the beastly careless, the indifferent, it is the ‘she’ll be right mate’ individuals that end up much worse for wear and even on the scrap heap.
It is also not wrong and bad to be stupid (which is really a label for ‘lazy’): it is more often an advantage. In society, it is not the complicated and sophisticated and difficult and impossible things that only a genius can master that ‘survive’ and ‘thrive’, that succeed and grow – actually, it is usually the super simple, the user friendly, the easy things that even a ‘dummy’ can do, that are hard not to do, that proliferate and go viral and eventually become house-hold things and become part of the basic fabric of our culture.
So, in other words, we need to go ‘easy’ on ourselves as a Group, and ‘easy’ on ourselves as individuals. And we need to do this by actually addressing the basic human and organisational needs that we have from the selfish and scared perspectives that are the DNA of what causes us to survive and evolve.
Rather than pointing the finger and fighting against the reality of how the world works, how Companies just have to work, and what we as individuals just need, we would rather do better by accepting and really embracing reality and work out how to work with things as they are, and ourselves as we are:
We may be selfish – but why would we do things that aren’t actually in our interests or for our benefit? The big question, rather, is how can we as individuals and how can we as a Group maximise what is in our greatest self-interest; what is for our greatest benefit?
Because when we really focus on what will be best for us, and strive to achieve what is of the greatest good for us, we may realise that it is actually far better for us, just as it is way better for our Group, more often than not, that we serve the interests of others, and that we serve the interests of the Group: that we work together, that we put our heads down, that we bed down and batten down the hatches, that we dig our heels in together and pull out all stops to battle the odds, and fight to win, and overcome and rise up to meet the challenges as individuals and in collaboration as a team – THAT is the best thing for us, if we want to be really selfish; that is what leads to our greatest good.
Selfishness, if we harness it, keeps us connected to what truly matters, it keeps us from spiralling down into what would actually disadvantage us or be to our detriment, and instead drives us to achieve personal success.
We may be scared – but why wouldn’t we have a fear of loss, or be careful to avoid risks and dangers and traps? The big question, rather, is how can we and how can we as a Group maximise what will give us the greatest security and safety?
Because when we really focus on what will be safe, and strive to achieve what is for our greatest security, we may realise that it is actually far safer and more certain for us, just as it is way safer and secure for the Group, more often than not, that we look after one another, and that we look after the Group: that we stick together, that we defend one another, that we back one another up, that we support one another, that we go with the flow, that we roll with the punches. Sometimes it will mean that we suck it up, that we overlook frustrations, that we give the benefit of the doubt, and assume the best of others, and even speak up to protect our culture, even stand up against things that undermine the performance or quality of our work or of the performance and quality of the Group – THAT is the safest thing for us, if we want to truly minimise danger; that is what leads to our least risk.
Scared, if we harness it, keeps us wary and savvy, and helps us to assert quality control and manage the risks of our work, and prevent our Group losing its edge, in a world where out-of-control is actually the norm.
We may be stupid (or ‘lazy’) – but why wouldn’t we want an easier road, avoiding the path of greatest effort? The big question, rather, is how can we and how can we as a Group minimise our effort and the difficulties, and find the simplest, most straightforward path ahead?
Because when we really focus on what will be easier, and seek to find the pathway that is of least resistance for ourselves, we may realise that it is actually far simpler and much easier for us, just as it is way less difficult for the whole Group, more often than not, that we align with one another and we align ourselves to what the Group requires: that we coordinate with one another, that we fall into line, that we synchronise, that we sing in tune with one another, that we keep the beat, that we harmonise, that we synergise, that we relate to one another symbiotically, that we get with the program, that we get in the rhythm, that we stay on the same page with one another, that we play by the same playbook – THAT is the easier path, if we want to be truly lazy; that is what leads to the least difficulties for us.
Stupid (i.e., lazy), if we harness it, fuels our creativity, makes us resourceful and drives our systems and processes to become simpler, easier, more efficient, more productive, more effective, and ultimately foolproof.
It was Socrates that told us “Know thyself”. And it is Gregory & Flanagan’s Book “Selfish, Scared and Stupid” that tells us that we also need to “Know one another”.
In fact, Carl Sagan reminded us “Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.”
We’ve often said as a Group that we don’t want to just survive, we want to thrive.
But the reality is that we need to go easy on ourselves. We are doing exceptionally well in incredibly challenging circumstances. We are doing exceptionally well still just being here, through everything we’ve come through. And we will be doing exceptionally well to stay the course, take the long view, and last the test of time.
Because times, they are a changing, constantly, relentlessly. And we are battling against the odds, every day, all of us.
So, let’s go easy on ourselves. Let’s not make it worse for ourselves, and riskier for ourselves, and harder for ourselves by fighting against, or running from, or hiding from the realities of who and what we are as people and as a Group.
Rather, let’s go into 2021 with a new resolve to reward ourselves by truly achieving what really is in our best interests: and that is, when every one of us pulls out all stops to do the very best we can at what we do.
And let’s flip the fear by remembering we’re not alone and that our future prospects are much, much brighter if we do this, than if we fail to put in these hard yards – that would actually be much, much scarier. As the old adage goes, ‘pay now, play later.’
And this is also the simpler, easier road: It would actually be much, much harder for us in the future if we didn’t keep adapting to the changes, if we didn’t stay agile, and if each and every one of us didn’t keep evolving to meet the demands of our rapidly shifting roles within a rapidly shifting industry, in which we work in a rapidly changing world.
So, well done – one and all.
Keep up the good work.
And thank you.
Thanks to each and every one of you.
Thanks for keeping calm and carrying on. Thanks for putting up with everything and taking the long view. Thanks for seeing the good in everything, giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming the best.
To borrow a line from Former US President Barack Obama, “Yes, we can!”
So, in the spirit of what I have just shared from the people at The Impossible Institute:
Number 1 - Look after yourselves! Number 2 - Stay safe! And thirdly - Take it easy!
Merry Christmas and see you in 2021.