From Why To Why Not


From Why To Why Not

If you’ve been out walking around Titanic Quarter you will have noticed a tourist attraction called the SS Nomadic. Recently repainted, it was a ‘tender’ ship with an illustrious history, it’s also the last surviving vessel of the famed White Star Line.

It was nicknamed ‘Titanic’s Little Sister’ and apart from servicing the Titanic itself in 1912, it has also carried some very famous characters like Richard Burton and Marie Curie among many others. It has also been a mine sweeper, a restaurant and even a party ship as it languished in its latter days in France.
The Nomadic was brought back to its Belfast home in July 2006 to begin its final function as a tourist attraction for local and foreign visitors to the dock where it now rests.

The more I’ve observed it from a nearby coffee shop, the more I’ve been struck by the irony of its name. The Nomadic, meaning wanderer, wayfarer, rambler and roamer, now surrounded on all sides with nowhere to go. A relic and a static version of its former self. Titanic’s little sister is now stuck in time.

It got me thinking (and I know I’m stretching the metaphor) that this could be a picture of what can happen to many people along the way…..getting stuck in time. Possibly even a metaphor for the political situation we find ourselves in. The House on the hill being more of a visitor attraction for hop-on, hop-off buses than a place of flexibility, decision-making and responsible leadership. At the time of writing, it’s still empty and static as civil society craves initiative and action to address the increasingly depressing challenges we face.

It looks the part though!

Some boundaries are forced upon us, some cannot be avoided, but others are self-imposed or self-inflicted, maybe the result of past failure or disappointment or perhaps the result of a fixed mindset or misinterpreted social conditioning.
Whether restrictions are the consequence of internal or external factors, perhaps there is an opportunity to shake them off and face into the undeniable strong economic headwinds of 2023 with renewed vigour, faith and optimism.
Taking a leaf from the great man, HG Wells, maybe we can also decide to dream. “Some people see things as they are and say ‘why’”, he said, “but I see things as they never were and say, ‘why not’”!

Sometimes events and circumstances can be the catalyst for new, brave thinking, an opportunity to reinvent and reposition ourselves. An opportunity to be a better, more authentic version of ourselves.

You may remember the emergency landing on The Hudson River of US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15th 2009. Or maybe you watched the movie ‘Sully’ with Tom Hanks playing the flight’s captain Chesley Sullenberger. An incredible true story of courage, conviction and skill. Well, imagine you were sitting in seat 1D as the engines stopped and the aircraft headed downwards.

The guy who was sitting in 1D is called Ric Elias and he very eloquently recounted his experience on a TED talk in 2011. It’s a great example of the choices we can make when faced with extreme and on the face of it, hopeless, impossible external pressures.

Ric made a number of life-changing decisions on the 15th January 2009. I’ve replayed this many times and shown it to hundreds of participants on our leadership programs around the world. The power of his decisions is captured by their simplicity.

1. Don’t postpone anything, put nothing off. Do what has to be done. Now!
2. Spend less time trying to prove yourself right and more time choosing to be happy
3. Be the best father (or parent) you can be

So simple, yet so propound.

Many of us can find ourselves restricted by procrastination or fear of failure but we also have the option to grasp opportunities when they present themselves, there may not be a better or even another time. Don’t postpone anything.
We know full-well, the paralysis that comes from the obsession of being ‘right’. Look no further than the chaotic yet static local political landscape. The ‘I’m right’, ‘You’re wrong’ dialogue is dead in the water. It guarantees frustration and stagnation.

For those of us who are parents, there is perhaps a stark reminder of what really matters in life. Work is work, that’s all it is. Our health, our families and our relationships will always matter more.
Why not make this year a year of making choices, decisions and changes. Moving beyond the risk of settling for less and becoming an even better version of ourselves rather than a static one, looking the part but going nowhere fast.

Bill Roy
December 2022

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