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Stop, look and listen

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

If you are a child of the 70's, as I am, and recall how you learned your road safety then you perhaps might recognise the words 'stop, look and listen'. Anyone? Or am I the only one who remembers going to Tufty Club at the library and hearing about Tufty and his friends doing naughty things like running out in front of ice cream vans whilst chasing a football? No? Well, perhaps it was just me then!

Anyway, in a changing world of learning, whatever method was used back in those library days, it worked. I still remember the mantra of 'stop, look and listen' before you cross the road, and in fact find myself using it with my young nieces as we head off on adventures, dog walks and sneaky trips to the shop to buy sweets and chocolate.

Over the festive period I found myself with more time on my hands than usual, thanks to an unwanted visit from the pesky flu bug doing the rounds. After a couple of days in bed, my husband and I were in desperate need of fresh air and the outdoors, but with little energy to do the usual running, mountain biking or skiing, we had to settle for slow, steady walking. Anything more energetic resulted in an inability to speak and a lengthy fit of coughing. So slow and steady it was...with several pauses to regather breath.

And it was during one of those pauses that I recalled the Tufty Club and the 'stop, look and listen' mantra, without a road in sight. It is amazing the things that you notice when you take time to look. To stop and to really look at what is around you. Tiny things that might ordinarily pass you by if going at the usual fast pace. Amazing ice structures on dead branches, pancake ice in the river, a robin following us along, two deer staring at us whilst munching on some unfrozen grass, bird song, silence, cloud shapes, the sound of chain saws in the distance, tiny trees just beginning to grow...amazing beauty in nature that mostly I now take for granted.

But so what? Well, apart from the fact that, actually, sometimes a pause is good for mind, body and got me thinking about all the other things that we might miss because we are too busy rushing around doing our everyday 'stuff'. Do we really see what is in front of us in our environments? Do we really hear what people are saying? Do we really know what is going on with our friends, our family, our colleagues? Do we really understand the problem that we need to solve? Or do we rush on through what is familiar because it has become so known and perhaps taken for granted?

Culture, for me, is simply 'the way we do things round here', so when people and organisations talk about the need for culture 'change', all they really want to do is change the way that 'things' get done; the way that people treat each other; the way that their world works on a daily basis. There is a quote that I stumbled across in an article by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg that says 'we tend to fall in love with solutions before we really understand the problem'; and I love these words and what they imply. It suggests that, by default, we turn to the obvious rather than taking time to look for the meaningful. There is a whole lot more to this, and a whole host of theories that underpin, support and challenge this discuss and debate over coffee perhaps...?

But perhaps the simplest mantra to take forward in a quest for greater awareness comes courtesy of my little furry friend, Tufty, from all those years ago. Just remember to 'stop, look and never know what you might see, hear or learn'.

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