I am a notorious hurler of playthings. It has often been said, both to me and about me, that I have “thrown my toys out of the pram”.
I have walked away from lucrative, prestigious and, yes, even interesting work for reasons that may seem strange, obscure or eccentric. Because of this I have been described as stubborn, unpredictable and, yes, that scary female thing, “hysterical”.
I admit that there have been times that I have walked away from relationships because I have let my ego prevail, and taken offence at some real or imagined slight. More often, though, my toy-throwing happens when I realise that I represent nothing more than a box that needs to be ticked. It happens when I suspect that I’m part of what I call a “seen to be” exercise, where those who are paying for my contribution have no intention of acting on the ideas that we generate or of solving the problems that surface.
Like a baby presented every day with the same toy, I get frustrated when nothing changes as a result of the work I do. Of course, I question my own contribution first, but then I begin to question the motives and values of the people I’m working with.
After more than 40 years in the business world, I should, perhaps, know better than to lose my shit over these things. The opposite is true. At 64, I’m more impatient than ever. I don’t have time for compromise or an appetite for doing the same thing in the hope of getting a different result. I am determined to raise the bar for the people I work with, not lower it.
So, to all those who have said of me that my behaviour is irrational and immature, and equally for those who secretly want to join me in my irrational immaturity, here are a few lines from this notorious toy-thrower to the toy-bringers:
(If you struggle with metaphors and analogies, you should probably stop reading now.)
– I’m throwing the toys out of the pram because they are taking up space. My toy-throwing makes space in my pram for new toys, and creates space into which I can grow.
– The toys that I throw out of my pram were never really MY toys, they were the toys that you wanted me to play with. At best, they were the toys that you thought that I wanted.
– I’ll be honest, I have thrown out your toys for my own amusement; to hear the sounds that the toys make as they hit the ground, to see what new toys I can create from the fragments of the old ones, to observe how the bringers of the toys will react to my rejecting their offerings….
– Playing with the same toys over and over again is not aiding my development, and I urgently need to learn new stuff. It certainly isn’t doing anything for you.
To those clients and collaborators that I’m working with today; thank you so much for constantly bringing new toys for me to play with, and a bigger pram to play in!
*For those of you not familiar with the expression, the online definition that I like the best is, “Behaving in a childish and petulant way; having a tantrum”.