Tag Archives: purple

Nail Varnish : Change is Hard

While visiting Manchester recently to take part in the 2015 CIPD conference, I had my nails done. I wasn’t driven by anything in particular, beyond the simple curiosity of trying something different, so I booked myself in for a manicure and off I went. The woman who painted my nails did an excellent job (sorry I cannot remember her name but here’s a link to the salon), and as she worked we talked, and I learned that although plenty of men come in for a nail clean up – I was the first in 18 months who had asked for their nails to be painted. Job done – I left and almost immediately ruined one of my new nails. Looking after these bad boys is hard work! I dashed back and after a quick repair I went on my way again.

Purple Nails

Matching nails and conference bag – on brand 😉

As I headed back to the conference I began to feel extremely conscious of my new fashion accessories and I became aware I was hiding them from view. I checked myself and tried to act naturally, at least as naturally as the first client in 18 months to have a nail makeover can.

As people spotted my nails, I began to receive feedback. The first person who saw them looked straight down their nose, blasting me with a first class Paddington Bear stare, before exclaiming ‘What on earth did you do that for?!’ I fumbled some kind of embarrassed response and excused myself. Others told me I was ‘brave’, and some folk told me they thought my nails looked great.

I kept my nails on for a few days (well I had invested £15 in them) and I was really interested in how I, and others, continued to react. My own prejudices surfaced a few times when I hid my nails from view as, with no evidence, I judged how some people might respond, based on nothing more than a split second analysis.

Nail Varnish

Sunday breakfast – shortly before the demise.

My nails were returned to their former unglory a few days later – this photo above is their final outing. For me – what started as a bit of curious fun, turned into an observation of how we respond to change, and to difference.

My experience reminded me of this excellent story by Bob Marshall, A Difficult Message to Hear. His poignant tale is of his own Mum, who when faced with a need to change her lifestyle for health reasons, chose not to. Marshall uses this powerful example to illustrate just how hard change is, and yet we have come to expect, and demand change from people in an organisational context, almost as if it were as simple as flicking a switch, or turning a tap.

My own ‘lifestyle change’ was simple to apply and simple to remove, and as far as I know, has had no lasting affect on my health. The experience has had a lasting affect on my learning though, through the simplicity of a manicure I’m reminded:

We often rush to judgment
We often react suspiciously to difference
We often find change hard

Fragments of The Soul

A post about working out loud, iteration and abundance.

The original of this abstract work of art which you can see above, now resides in the USA. I created it as part of a one-off printing process using acrylic paint. Mixing paints, pressing sheets of paper together and pulling them apart again. There are bumps, ridges and an almost feather like quality in parts of the pictures – a result of the separation of the pieces of paper. You can see that more clearly in another piece of the work I have photographed here.

Fragments of the Soul

After I’d finished the work I was left with more art than I’d originally bargained for – as the separated sheets each formed their own image. What to do with this abundance? I photographed a piece of the work and the image has become the introduction to my current talk, The Art and Soul of Better Work.

The Art and Soul of Better Work

The talk itself has undergone several iterations since I first started writing it way back when. It has even shifted, ebbed and flowed over the last showings in Lisbon and Barcelona, and I’m now heading to Madrid to close this wonderful Spring European tour with another, slightly different version of the talk. Working out loud, getting feedback. Iterating all the time.

I will post the latest version of the slides after the talk, and a question I want to answer now is – what to do with the remaining pieces of the art?

Smaller Fragments

As you can see – they are now mounted, I’m taking them with me to Madrid and I am mindful to give them away. This work, this art, this stuff – it feels like it has become part of my life, fragments of the soul, maybe I should hold onto a piece, for now at least.