Great oaks from little acorns grow… gradually

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It isn’t always obvious in this post X-Factor world, where quick fixes and Insta-gratification are the measure of success that, for better or worse, most meaningful change takes a long time to achieve. It’s not because of inertia (although that certainly exists) but because all seeds take time to grow and mature.


As with anything, anyone entering a role that serves a community hopes to have some immediate triumphs. Celebrating small wins on a long road are important motivational and benchmarking factors for everyone involved. However, as with most worthwhile things, the headline making details are really not the reasons to get involved and they are certainly not the true rewards of the job. 

Public service is about working to make consistent, meaningful differences that from one day to the next may not look all that glamorous. However, in the long-term those actions have a significant, cumulative and positive impact. Indeed, the real result of these actions might not fully come to fruition until beyond your own lifetime, and that’s a reality it is important to face, even when it’s deeply frustrating.

Thus, public service offers a very specific type of personal gratification. One that hinges on deliberately doing something you hope will, over time, benefit others and not oneself. As the saying goes: 

A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” 

Clickbait culture and social consciences

In recent weeks we saw the enforced resignation of Dame Cressida Dick as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Everyone will have a different opinion on this matter - it’s a highly divisive topic and most importantly a complex one. To many it seems rash and ill considered. It certainly raises important questions over what we expect from our leaders and what our role is in supporting them in doing their jobs.

Today we are facing some big issues in lots of areas of business, culture and the community. Our leaders must bring clarity and a sense of realism to these hugely complex matters. If we elect leaders who are over anxious about achieving popularist short-term headlines we surely run the risk of never really achieving meaningful change?

In a democratic society, all meaningful change must have the support of the majority. Leaders must persuade those who have given them a mandate to act, by explaining the voracity of their intentions and proposed strategies, informed by fact. They need to make their case to the public honestly, without lecturing or manipulating those facts for personal advantage. 

The media certainly has a role to play in keeping us all informed and engaged, even when progress is slow. At the moment, there’s an inherent conflict between a clickbait hungry media world - a controversy based approach, and the setting of a true context to strategic longer-term needs which carry greater benefit. Caveat emptor.

Looking 100 years ahead in the City of London 

In the City of London we are in a state of transition because the world is in transition. We too need to take a view beyond our own individual short-term wants and needs and think about the next 100 years. What actions are we going to take now that will give it the best chance of being a thriving and exciting place in 2125?

We are interested in the development of genuine green investment opportunities, in addressing the wellbeing of the community, in looking at our position on the world stage post-Brexit and in creating a working environment following Covid that’s intentional, productive and inviting. This will take time and care.

In the words of the author Robert Collier: 

“Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out.”

We certainly do need to get better at communicating how we are making those changes. The daily grind through which progress is made might not be all that riveting. However, in a world of enormous communication opportunities surely we can take everyone along for the ride, showcasing informed actions rather than loud opinions and, together, make a difference that goes well beyond self-service?

This month I announced my candidacy for Non-Aldermanic Sheriff 2022-23. If you would like to register your support, please follow the link below. Or if you would like to ask me a question, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.