I was talking to a colleague the other day about communication, leadership, gaffs in public and private and how, sometimes, we all suffer from them. The conversation reminded me of a lesson I learned from something that my Dad gave me when I was growing up in Scotland.
I remember that, as a child, I was prone to blurt out observations and thoughts with no thought as to the consequences of them or if it was appropriate to say what I was saying in the present company. This resulted in a number of embarrassing occasions for both myself and my Mum & Dad. Having ‘blurted’ something out once too often, I remember that my Dad took me to one side and gave me a box of Scottish Bluebell matches. I was surprised by this and asked “What’s this?”. To which, he replied “Read what is written on the back of the box.”
In those days Scottish Bluebell match boxes were graced by different sayings on the back of the boxes, making them quite collectible, and on this occasion the saying was:
“Always remember to put your brain in gear before you open your mouth.”
I was stunned by this and that lesson has stayed with me ever since. Now, I am not saying that I am perfect (not by a long shot) but every time I find that I get into a situation where I have to think clearly about how and what I have to say and who is going to receive it, I remember that box of matches and that saying.
Do you remember any stories of lessons that you have learned that you still carry with you today?
Thanks to artgecko for the photo