Robert Redford was here

And I am sure it was great: for him, or for anybody who got to see/meet him. I went and spent the long Remembrance weekend surfing in Tofino with a group of friends. It was low key, fun and rainy when we could catch the best waves. One of us managed to fit a yoga class in a studio along Chesterman Beach for some Vinyasa Flow, and heard Robert Redford was staying in the area too. Big deal? Maybe. To fit most of us, we stayed at a pretty nice hostel: we then joked about the idea of sharing a room with Robert Redford. What would we say? Good morning, probably, and then whisper to each other, realising who he is. Then we came back to reality: chances of him staying at a hostel are slim.

It is not so much the likelihood of a celebrity walking in what used to be a fishing village: other entertainment stars have stayed, if not invested, in this piece of paradise. It is more about how one responds to what the media has made of other normal people. Sure, if I were to meet the Sundance Institute founder, I would be thrilled and have many questions for him. It may be in me to stay away from the groupie patterns, so I would not scream hysterically or feel somewhat inferior because my life is not “paparazzied” (and that actually keeps me happy, thank you).

I tend to behave exactly the same in a work environment, regardless of the hierarchy level, or the basic perception of hierarchy in general, whether I am a consultant or not. Interacting with stakeholders from across a company is just that: interaction. Making it bigger or smaller can only lead to presumptuous assumptions and divert the atmosphere of any communication. Why would I want (need?) to change a part of who I am and how I connect with someone based on a label s/he carries around? It does not take away the respect I have for her/him.

That is the same with an auditor, the big boss of a major company or the janitor of the facilities I get to work at: if they are willing, I will engage into any conversation with them. Looking down in the hallway or standing still because a director walks in sounds a little bit too old fashioned to me. I saw this behaviour become a tacit inclination, or even an etiquette in a company once: unless it is a cult, there is no reason for nurturing such a weakening rapport, entertaining the vanity of some.

I agree some editing and filtering is necessary before sharing my thoughts, depending on my audience. Yet, too much of it kills its purpose: it is perfectly fine to disagree, with peers, direct reports or managers. It is actually healthy to discuss or debate: I find it is uplifting to be invited in participating and contributing. No need to dance around, even for Robert Redford.