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Dare to Dream

adaptablility courage dream engagement fear fulfilment leadership vision Apr 08, 2021

This insight is not only a family story, but also a lesson in life. As well as being a fantastic example of getting the best out of life and dealing with economical turbulence, it is also a reminder to us all that it is imperative to create a positive environment if you want to support the growth of others.

Mum had worked all her life as a teacher and was working with children who had special educational needs, whilst Dad managed artist relations in the Christian music industry. However, beyond their '9-to-5' jobs, they shared a dream. A dream to work for themselves running a coffee shop. In 2007 my Mum and Dad made the bold decision to give up everything they knew and to venture into the unknown. With my brother and I no longer at home, they sold the family home, gave up their jobs and bought a property in the middle of the Ross-on-Wye High Street, some 120 miles away.

As well as fulfilling their own dreams and overall enjoying much happier lives, Mum and Dad were also the best role models that me and my brother could have asked for. Their story is a strong reminder that if you want to help someone develop particular characteristics, you are well advised to role-model them yourself first. Mum and Dad taught me the following:

To Show Courage

Many people who are underwhelmed at work, have a dream to leave their job, but most people do not act on these desires. Instead they carry on with a role that they do not find fulfilling. Not only this, but putting any fear aside, leaving an area where you have lived for over two decades, selling the home where you brought up your children and moving from the town where many of your friends live, makes the choices that Mum and Dad made even more courageous.

To Work Hard

Numbers illustrate this point better than words ever can. During their 13 years running Pots & Pieces, Mum, Dad and their team served:

  • 170,000 cups of tea
  • 170,000 cups of coffee
  • 156,000 cold drinks
  • 133,000 slices of cake
  • along with many other items from their delicious menu!

During this time, Mum worked tirelessly, making:

  • 37,000 scones
  • 11,000 cakes - YES, 11 thousand whole cakes! - Huge ones too!

Additionally, they did this whilst maintaining a 5 star food hygiene rating for 13 consecutive years and delivering customer service that resulted in an overall Trip Advisor rating of 4.5 out of 5!

To Be Adaptable

Mum and Dad showed adaptability when they switched their 'life-long' jobs for a 200 year old building in need of structural and aesthetic renovation, along with the task of developing and running a successful local coffee shop.

Mum and Dad clearly understood each other's strengths and showed exceptional teamwork to ensure that these strengths were utilised. To succeed, they personally learnt new skills, or attracted people who could perform more specialist roles that they could not. They then created a 'blueprint' for how they wanted their business to run and systematically trained each and every staff member to fulfil their role in line with their expectations.

During the course of their tenure, they continually tracked their sales figures and adjusted the type of giftware they were stocking in order to reflect the latest trends and the most in demand price points at any given point time time.

Further, they were also impressively quick to react when the guidelines fo COVID secure hospitality establishments were announced. Realising that they would need more floor space, in which to space their visitors, as well as sensing that they may be closer to finding a buyer for their business, they quickly launched a giftware flash sale. This sale, enabled them to clear their remaining stock down and enabled the removal of all display units, resulting in extra space and only a very negligible reduction in their allowable seating capacity.

So now, as Mum and Dad settle into retirement, I am left with very little doubt as to how they will adapt. They will, they always do! All is left for me to say to them is we are immensely proud of you, the decisions you have taken and what you have achieved. Enjoy what we hope will be a long and happy retirement!

Leadership Implications

Whilst my parents have given me so much, the examples above have highlighted the following learnings that we can all benefit from.

Lead from the front - Role model the attitudes and behaviours that you want from your teams. By showing others the standards you expect, you are more likely to see what you want from others. It also enables others to learn directly from you.

Showcase your flexibility - More now than ever before, it is important that leaders demonstrate their ability to be adaptable. Some people's personalities lend themselves to being flexible, but for others this may be more challenging. The reality is, in a rapidly changing world, those who change when required to do so are more likely to succeed and in some cases, more likely to survive. Approach topics with an open mind, and soften any assumptions you have until you have had an opportunity to review the facts.

Live courageously - As a leader sometimes decisions need to be made. Often, the right decision is also the toughest option. To support your progress, ensure that your vision is clear, understand the outcomes you are striving for and move forwards into the unknown with courage.


Sam Bruce, Business Psychologist & High Performance Coach