Just because you find that life’s not fair it
Doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
Nothing will change
Even if you’re little you can do a lot you
Mustn’t let a little thing like little stop you
If you sit around and let them get on top you
Might as well be saying you think that it’s okay
And that’s not right
And if it’s not right
You have to put it right
The words above are taken from the song Naughty, written by the brilliant Tim Minchin for Matilda the Musical. The song is sung by the title character, and is used to early in the musical to signify how Matilda feels she needs to take her life into her own hands and stand up to the unkindness she faces from her parents. During the song she expresses her frustrations at classic tales like Jack and Jill and Romeo and Juliet, where tragic fates befall the main characters through poor decision making, failing to be bold about what they believe in, and simply by following the story that was written for them.
While the messaging from the song is particularly apt for the ridiculous scenarios Roald Dahl crafted for Matilda to face, I feel it’s something that we should all consider as we reach the midpoint of the calendar year. Whatever we do, and wherever we work, I’m sure we have all faced the feeling of being little and insignificant. This is amplified by the uncertain covid-related environment we currently live in, where change sometimes needs to be triggered at the drop of a pin in reaction to changing government advice.
Sometimes we notice things that don’t seem right. This might be the decisions that are made that we disagree with. A process may be stale or designed for some legacy reason. The technologies we use could be outdated, or inappropriate for the situation they’re being used for. We may feel little, but each one of us has not just a right but a responsibility to challenge and speak out on what we feel should be done.
When looking back and reflecting on what you have achieved through the first half of the year, I encourage you to think about the difference you have made. When did you challenge a plan or suggestion, resulting in a change that made your world a better place? Where did you stand up and put yourself in the spotlight to add value to our products? On the other hand, what situations can you identify where you didn’t back your values, and speak out for what you believe in?
This is also a great time to look ahead to what we want to achieve by the end of the year. Where can we stand up more often, embody our values, and make a difference? Furthermore, each of us is responsible for our own careers. What do you want to have learnt by the end of 2021? How can you push forward, and take that next step?
Sometimes, boldness and bravery is needed to make a difference. We need the courage to challenge what’s seen as normal, to experiment, and to reflect on what happens. Often we need to do this without permission, even if we only feel like a small part of where we work or even the world in general. Some of these changes may be against what’s expected, but progression and improvement often means being different to everyone else. Live for what you believe in, and make a difference. In the words of Matilda:
But nobody else is gonna put it right for me
Nobody but me is gonna change my story
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty