Sat, Aug

Brexit:a known unknown

The Russian government insists that Vladimir Putin has no opinion about Brexit. If so, he must be unique. I suspect that, like me, you have long since stopped listening to the posturing and pontificating on either side of the campaign – although the celebrity endorsements can be quite amusing. For every Sir Michael Caine who wants us out, there’s a Paul Cook, the Sex Pistols drummer who insisted that Brexit isn’t “punk”. Glad we’ve got that cleared up.

One side of the argument deals in fear, the other in fantasy, and reality barely gets a look in. I just can’t wait for it all to be over so that my customers can stop using all the uncertainty as an excuse to procrastinate – it’s hardly as if they are short of reasons not to spend money!

The popular term is Vuca. It sounds like a foot infection but stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous – the state of the world we live in, as defined by Donald Rumsfeld, the American defence honcho who is better known for talking about known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. Brexit would probably be categorized as a known unknown but whatevcr it is, it has made the first half of 2016, more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous than it needed to be. Sometimes, I understand why people talk fondly of the Belgian example where the country went without a government for 589 days without any obvious ill effects.

Anyway, all will hopefully be decided on 23 June and after that we can look to Roy Hodgson’s England to lift our spirits at Euro 2016 in France. Mind you, the Three Lions’ fortunes at recent major tournaments have been volatile and uncertain. I’ve always preferred tennis anyway. I’ve even found it useful in my job. I was a great admirer of Pete Sampras, who was a) fabulously successful and b) reviled as boring. Once Andre Agassi asked him for advice and Sampras replied: “Never tell anyone anything.”

Four words I’ve always taken to heart. Talking too much can blunt your competitive edge. I’ve seen many companies acquire a high profile before falling very low. Like Sampras. It’s usually best to let the quality of your game – or your work – do the talking.

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