"This works. I was on a new high because I thought if we can do this consistently, this is shaking the tree"
This is a photo of my father and my daughter. There is so much more to the story than is evident, but the fact that they enjoy each other's company and were able to have beers together this January is one of the greatest gifts of our family's year.
I’m reluctant to admit it took me too long to embrace the profound truth of that.
Another profound truth I’ve embraced is that having high expectations when it comes to things that are mostly, or entirely, outside my control (like gifts from distant family, the course of love, and the choices my children make) is stupid.
It’s understandable and human, but still stupid.
Truth three, while I’m in greeting card mode, is that some things that initially show up as a curse, or look like one, are the most magnificent gifts, eventually.
I’m not talking about the nose hair clipper Dad gave me for Christmas when I was in my mid-thirties and didn’t know nose hair was a thing. He thought he was hilarious. I was mystified. It’s not so confusing now but I’m still less than grateful.
I'm also not talking about tragedies like the accident last week that took Jess Reilly's husband and injured her 7 year old son. If you're worried about your family dynamic or gifts this holiday season spare a thought, a donation or a social media share for Jess and her three kids this Christmas.*
The gifts I'm talking about are things of beauty that arrive wrapped in dirty paper, that have hurt me, or maybe you, to breaking point when we receive them, or that we barely notice because they seem insignificant or too hard to "hold".
I have had to sit with the real risk of losing a child or two, and I have lost someone I loved very dearly far too young. Those "gifts" hurt so much I thought I would break. They also made me a much better human once I could "hold" them, accept them, and allow them to become a positive part of my future.
Back to work. Which, I've decided, is actually just like the rest of life. There are patterns, there are sorrows and joys, and some people have it worked out already.
Allow me to introduce you to one of the gifts of our year. Last week we were announced as the winner of the financial communications category of the PRIA annual Golden Target Awards.
We won that award thanks to something I really didn’t think was a gift on its arrival.
This was the brief that I might, back when I was given those nose hair clippers, have thought of as the cursed brief. I’d hear other agencies and their consultants whine about it. This was the brief that said the client expected instant results from their PR.
I’m not talking about media coverage here – I’m talking about the phone ringing or the leads doubling or the pipeline suddenly converting… and doing so this month.
High expectations, low budget and need it yesterday.
Well yes until digital happened and until we started to ask more often if perhaps the cursed brief was a gift or could be made into one.
More recently, and aside from the award, we onboarded a client whose "workload went through the roof" with a brief very much like the one above. Here’s what he said after our first quarter, "I was absolutely over the moon where I can see it work. It wasn’t just traffic because there was a traffic component, but definitely, people treated me differently when they know you’ve been in the paper in the media. This works and I was on a new high because I thought this works, if we can do this consistently, this is shaking the tree."
Happy holidays my friends.
It’s taken more than a decade and it turns out the client WAS right. It took all fifty years to realise that some of the most painful moments of my life needed to become a gift to others.
It took me too long to work these things out. Sorry. But I did get there. Maybe my experience can save you some decades.
*Last Monday, Dec 13, Jess lost her loving husband Peter in a horrific car accident. She needs funds to help raise her kids. Jess and Peter’s 7-year-old son Connor was a passenger in the car and is seriously injured. Jess, unable to reach Peter, left work last Monday afternoon at Sydney Sport Medicine Centre (my partner's work) to find him and Connor. Caught in traffic she came across the accident where Peter lost his life and Connor was seriously injured. Jess is now suddenly a single mother of three, dealing with the sudden loss of her partner of 12 years. She will become a sole carer for Connor, 5 yo Kenzie and 17yo stepson Seth. My kids are getting less for Christmas.
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