I made three separate trips to London last week. I was in the UK all week and each of my journeys was by train. I do a lot of driving and flying so travelling by train is a pleasant change. Well a change at least.
In my car I am in charge of my own density. I can chose who I sit next to, where I go, and what I listen to. I can enjoy silence and consider things…I can listen to music and sing badly (but privately), or I can talk to almost whoever I chose.
Planes tend to be noisier. More people more close; more control on what I can do, when, who and where; more restriction on where and when I can walk; who sits next to me, when I can eat, and even when I can try to sleep.
Trains seem like a good middle ground – much more freedom than a plane, but much less personal control than a car. I find myself thinking that trains would be great if it wasn’t for all those other people – people I don’t know who decide to talk or sing along or listen loudly or just chose to sit next to me. But then I smile when I realise that most everyone else is probably thinking the exact same thing about me.
I met and spoke with friends, colleagues, friends who are colleagues, colleagues who are friends, clients, clients who are friends, potential clients, partners and potential partners. Just not on my train journeys. All of my value – and fun – happened once I was off my trains.
In many ways and on most days it felt like a nebulous week. But then I thought about what I had learned, and what opportunities I had heard about and had explained to me. At which point it felt much more like a successful week.
In no particular order, I discussed companion and complementary diagnostics; biomarkers and oncology; the pharmaceutical industry and its future; opportunity and careers; consultants and consultancy; Captain America and Leicester City; recruitment and development; sales and relationships; budgets and silos; leaders and leadership; INDs, POCs and NDAs; amongst other things.
I was once asked (at a team question and answer session) whether my working days were like NATO. I was flattered…and smiled; and then my questioner explained – No Action, Talk Only. He wasn’t making a political point…he was asking a personal question. I was engaged…and laughed.
I thought for a moment before answering. ‘Definitely lots of talk’, was my start. It’s true, I spend most of my day talking to people – apart from when I am on trains – on the phone, in person, by video, via instant messaging…
Action though? That was the real question. Before I answered, I explained how much value I put on every conversation or discussion. I listen and consider; I seek opportunity to modify how I think, and look at topics from a different viewpoint. I know what I think…I want to learn from what others believe.
But what about action? That’s easier to answer but harder to see, mainly because I assign the vast majority of actions from any of my discussions to the same person. To me.
The learnings are mine. It’s my view that has been expanded or adjusted. They are my beliefs that have been challenged or altered. So it is my subsequent actions that I have to consider or change.
Most of my actions then, from my week, are underway. Above all I want the results – big or small – to be positive. I want to make a difference.