Monday, 13th November 2023. Autodesk University 2023, Las Vegas.
I was sitting in the main keynote, and my phone started buzzing. And it kept buzzing. After leaving the keynote, I saw a missed call from one of my father’s friends back home in the UK. Upon checking messages, I learned my 82-year-old father had had a “knock” in his car. I immediately phoned my wife, Michelle, to ask if my Dad had called her for assistance. Nope. My sister was away on a second honeymoon in the Cape Verde Islands, so I knew she wasn’t contactable. I checked the Find My app on my iPhone. My Dad (and his iPhone) was in the emergency room at the main hospital. At this point, my brain went into a bit of freefall. I was over 5,000 miles away. As my remaining parent (my Mum died in 2019) and also my neighbour (we had moved to be closer to him), I feared the worst. I was right. Fifteen broken ribs, a fractured sternum, and some damaged vertebrae. At the age of 82, the prognosis wasn’t good. We then found out that he had possibly fallen asleep at the wheel and gone into the back of a Porsche SUV at approximately 60 mph. It was a large “knock’’, so thank goodness for Honda airbag technology.
I won’t bore you with all the medical and domestic details. Suffice it to say that life has been an emotional and logistical rollercoaster ever since, and I have had to take a step back from work, business, and social media. I am slowly getting back into the groove, and this is my first post of 2024. If you were expecting communication from me, and I seemed to have disappeared off the grid, this is why. Please accept my apologies.
I struggled to find a word I wanted to use for this post, but a member of the medical team looking after my Dad summed it up. Due to his injuries, my Dad was intubated and put into an induced coma, and we were told TWICE that we might need to prepare for the worst. My Dad came back from the brink and is now conscious and communicating. As the medical team member said, my Dad has demonstrated incredible RESILIENCE. It is the perfect word to describe how he has got to where he is. In fact, my whole family has shown amazing resilience under the current circumstances. They were all with us over Christmas, and as a unit, we were united, hoping that Dad would pull through.
Some might think putting so much personal detail in a business-related post isn’t right. Well, here’s the weird bit that made me realise I needed to. One of my Autodesk University classes at AU2023 was about keeping your AutoCAD drawings ‘shipshape’. I learnt the word ‘shipshape’ from my Dad, a Royal Navy veteran, and it was the focus of the class, with me paying tribute to him for teaching me such important life skills as I grew up. I even showed a slide at AU2023 with a couple of pictures of my Dad in his Navy uniform back in the late 1950s.
You can find the AU2023 class mentioned here on the Autodesk University website: –
It was the first time I had mentioned my Dad in any work-related presentation. I felt this post needed to be written based on such personal circumstances. All of you who know me know how important family is to me, and I simply felt that, right now, the resilience demonstrated by my whole family needed to be celebrated the only way I know how, and that’s through a blog post.
The Oxford Dictionary lists one definition of resilience as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, demonstrating toughness. I think that sums up my current situation.
So, how can we relate my personal experience and apply that resilience to what we do daily? This is where Steve Blum (Autodesk) summed up one of my thought processes over the last few months since my Dad’s accident. At Autodesk University, Steve Blum talked about being a #changemaker.
It doesn’t matter what you do, where, when, or how. Making change is something we ALL need to do. After my Dad’s accident, my work/life balance HAD to change. I did not have a choice. Those changes made were to be there 100% for my family. Work had to take a back seat, and I pivoted from one direction to another. Home and family became my primary concern, and work kept ticking over, waiting for me to return to my ‘groove’.
You can relate this to any process or workflow, whether business or personal. If you don’t make a change, there will be no new outcome. There will be no challenges, and you will not grow as a person. You have to face challenges to make things work. Sitting in the same old rut will not provide improvement. When consulting and training, I often hear, “We’ve always done it this way”.
That may be the case, but is it the RIGHT way? Is it the most EFFECTIVE way? You won’t know unless you CHANGE it and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, you face that challenge and change again until your change builds improvement. Going through those changes is where the resilience builds. As resilience builds, you become more adept at embracing and working with change. You become a #changemaker, and change becomes your new normal.
Personal circumstances aside, change is good. Change allows you to learn and grow. It makes you more capable and more robust, and with that, you see things differently and realise that nothing is too hard to face.
As you make those changes, don’t make them on your own. You need a good team around you who also embrace change. My team (in this case) were my incredible wife and family, who all rallied around in a time of massive upheaval and change that is still ongoing. You cannot make effective change alone. Work together to make the change effective, delegating and managing each iteration until the change becomes the default workflow/process.
Some of you may read this post and think I am taking advantage of my situation to promote a specific business-related post. I am not. I am simply relating how our REAL lives (personal or otherwise) can help us make decisions that make us stronger and allow us to develop the RESILIENCE we need to be the best we can be at any given time. That could be my personal situation or any other situation you may wish to apply it to.
Some typical examples are in Autodesk’s State of Design & Make report: –
- 52% of respondents changed their day-to-day workflows to offset the impact of COVID-19
- 79% of future growth depends on digital tools
- Digitally mature companies are more prepared to handle change
- 72% of the workforce has evolved in the last three years compared to the last 25 years
The above requires CHANGE and RESILIENCE to implement and adapt to those changes. I cannot stress enough how change will build you and your team and allow you to adapt to subsequent changes. Make it your mantra going forward, and remember, as well, to #alwaysbelearning.
You can read the Autodesk report by using the link below: –
On a much more positive note, I would like to thank those in the Autodesk Community team. I received a Special Recognition award for my Autodesk Expert Elite Member work in 2023. I am honoured to receive such an award from an incredible Autodesk team whose members are fantastic colleagues and great friends.
They say that finding a job where you do what you love to do is the best job there is. Receiving an award like this, especially after what my family and I have been through in the last few months, makes me realise that MY resilience is a part of me that allows me to make the necessary changes in my life when circumstances require me to, personally and professionally.
My personal circumstances don’t necessarily relate to everyone reading this, but I ask you this.
Have you made any changes recently? Have you become a #changemaker? The changes do not have to be huge. They do not need to be paradigm shifts that have massive effects. Those changes can make all the difference.
Try it and see. Be that #changemaker. You can thank me later.
A belated Happy New Year to all of you, and love the ones closest to you. It can all change in a heartbeat.