My Robert the Bruce moment

I was working in my Man Cave at the end of the garden when I noticed that a spider had spun its web just outside my window. Hanging as if in mid-air, this little creature was incredibly still, bar the occasional twitch as the wind disturbed the web.

As I was looking for inspiration, in the middle of designing a virtual programme, I stopped and watched the spider for a bit. I wondered whether this was the same spider that had built the web across our front door some time ago (which we regularly walked through by accident, but was always rebuilt the next day).

OK, it obviously wasn’t the same spider… but a relative maybe?

Spiders are amazing creatures. It takes them an hour to build a web and they build a new one everyday. And then sit there waiting for a twitch. Destroy the web and the spider just starts again. It has to. Without the web, it can’t survive. You can’t just sit around cursing your luck, you have to build another web. The spider also has to be constantly alert, waiting for the slightest tremor that may indicate a snack is available. Get there too late… and no dinner.

Persistence and the power of necessity

A partner in a managing consultancy once described to me that managing large projects is like being a spider sitting in the middle of a web of stakeholders. You need to be ready to respond to the slightest twitch to keep on track. We’ve all been there.

Why I—like our Scottish friend whose spider inspired him to defeat the English at Bannockburn—am inspired by the spider is for the very simple power of necessity in promoting action. It’s a no-brainer.

Twenty years ago, I found myself jobless with a mortgage, a toddler and another child on the way, and nothing but a blank sheet of paper to stare at. I had to work out what I was going to do. My web had collapsed and I had mouths to feed.

A little voice was urging me to curl up into a ball and feel sorry for myself.

Not an option.

Keep spinning that web…

I started as my friend Simon de Cintra—a wonderfully creative facilitator and wise friend—once said to me: “Shake the tree”. Every contact I could think of, people I vaguely knew, people I didn’t know, companies I had googled… anyone I thought I could be useful to heard from me. Almost all of them never responded. But one or two did. And these acorns started me on the path I am still on today.

There was no blinding inspiration or extraordinary idea. It was just the boring stuff. Making lists, sending emails, making calls… spinning away until a new web took shape. And once it’s there, staying alert for twitching.

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David Solomon


Managing Director, Sun and Moon Training