Mind over matter

I’m a big fan of the BBC programme ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – it’s one of my guilty pleasures! Actually, I don’t feel at all guilty about it: seeing people work hard to create something amazing on a dance floor is pure pleasure in the midst of news stories about the Euro crisis or political unrest.

Anyway, there’s a move in the samba where the male dancer ‘fluffs up’ the female dancer’s very short, very flamboyant skirt. He’s drawing attention to her, showing her off to her best advantage, making sure that we notice her. He’s a great dancer too but for these few beats, she’s the one who matters.

All of us mind if we feel we don’t matter.


In an effective environment, we build each other up with the end result that we all feel confident of our contribution and role. In a less well-functioning environment, people run around justifying and validating themselves at the expense of others.

How can we help people feel that they matter? Perhaps first of all we need to believe that we matter. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner write

‘Everything you will ever do as a leader is based on one audacious assumption. It’s the assumption that you matter. Before you can lead others you have to lead yourself and believe that you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe that your words can inspire and your actions can move others. You have to believe that what you do counts for something. If you don’t, you won’t even try. Leadership begins with you.’

You might be reading this and thinking ‘but I’m not a leader’. I would disagree with you. Like Kouzes and Posner, I don’t believe that leadership is about your position in an organisation, community or family. I believe it’s about knowing what you stand for and being committed to it. Whether you’re a bus driver or a prime minister, you can be a leader.

So once we’ve established that we matter, how do we show others that they matter?

Here are some thoughts that have cropped up whilst discussing this with my coaching clients:

Allow them to do their job, to fulfil their function: You employed him because you believed he was the right person for the job: once he’s settled into the role, let him get on with it. How can you grant him the authority that goes with the responsibility?

Help people to understand the purpose of their role: Sometimes it feels like we work in a vacuum: would it help for us to meet the consumers of our product or the users of our service? If you work in the marketing team of a big retailer, can your team spend a day on the shop floor meeting the customers? If you and your family are entering a fun run to raise money for a homeless shelter, can you go along to see how the shelter runs? When we see the difference our actions make, we realise we matter.

Encourage personal development: If we invest in encouraging those around us to develop themselves whether that’s through sending them on a course, providing them with a coaching programme or arranging a secondment to another team, we are telling them that they matter.

Today’s pebble for your thoughts: how can you show others that they matter? How has someone shown you that you matter?

What do you think?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?

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