I spent most of my career in the commercial environment. With massive targets to meet amidst ferocious competition, I had to come up with something different to engage and inspire those around me to want to deliver extraordinary results, day in, day out.
To motivate and retain my people I realised that I had to create an environment that would not only give them a sense of belonging but would also differentiate us from our competitors. Hence out of necessity to deliver, the world of Polar Bear Pirates was born.
I set about creating a family winning environment to grow great people by helping them release all their childlike qualities; qualities that we all once had in abundance before we went to school and became prisoners of other people’s thinking.
As young children we were all positively brimming over with all the natural ingredients that anyone could ever need to be a phenomenal success. All the pre-school children that I’ve ever met display the exact same qualities of most highly successful entrepreneurs.
Those of you who have spent any time around young children will know that they are full of belief, they are unstoppably determined, they ooze enthusiasm, they just get on with things, they’re fun loving, they have incredible energy, they are forever exploring new ways of doing things and they never ever stop asking questions!
Think about it. They believe in Father Christmas and tooth fairies, they inevitably always end up getting whatever they ask for, they desperately want to be the first to see the sea, and if we could hook up kids to the National Grid, the world’s energy crisis would be solved instantly! On top of all these, I read once that a typical four year old asks on average 437 questions a day - I didn’t know it was so few!
However, as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to being successful, the biggest attribute that all young children have is a distinct lack of obstacles in their minds. Having not yet become prisoners of other people’s thinking they have such a simple, untainted view of the world around them. The path ahead is always clear, and as a result, their potential is unlimited.
Winston Churchill coined the term “corkscrew thinking” – it refers to people thinking around walls and barriers in search of solutions to problems. A young pre-school child has no need for corkscrew thinking because they have no ‘walls’ in their heads, they are completely free of other people’s “can’t do that” baggage.
If you really do want to gain and maintain an edge over your competition you’re going to have to release a few prisoners! As a leader you will need to strip away years of conditioning that has become entangled around your people’s thinking. And, you’re going to have to encourage your teams to look at life through the unrestricted eyes of a child whilst trying out new things and working on the edge of their comfort zones.
The key to doing this is to create a family winning environment that is fun to work in; a relaxed but challenging, highly competitive team environment that allows individuals to be themselves, to understand what a difference they each make and realise just what they are capable of achieving, especially when they all pull together.
So, who are the Polar Bear Pirates? Polar Bear Pirates are fun loving but highly focused individuals who are firm believers in life before death. They are everyday people who make a very big difference and regard problems as being pregnant with opportunity. If you yourself want to be a PBP, it will mean you having to rediscover a young person that you may not have heard from or seen around for quite a while!