Comment by BVAA CEO Rob Bartlett

On the Shoulders of Giants



Having really not watched much TV for best part of three weeks, thanks mainly to my busy annual leave, it was a tad depressing to return home to find the world news so full of tragedy, interwoven with grossly under-reported triumphs.

The contrast between troops on the ground putting their lives at risk to help others, while some leaders apparently found it difficult to do the simplest of things to assist, was somewhat sobering.

What I found rather sordid however, among the gravity of it all, were the political glory-hunters, claiming credit for themselves for those triumphs. Activities and actions from which they were, at best, detached.  At worst, ignorant, until the credit-grab opportunity.  I was embarrassed for them.

As leaders, we have many duties, and roles to play.  To lead, manage, negotiate, organise, influence, guide, mentor and develop, to have the insight and temper it with experience, and to communicate all that well and with clarity.

But despite all that, this isn’t doing the entirety of the job ourselves – so why try and grab all the credit?  Granted leaders input all the above, and have the authority to put measures and resources in place that makes things happen. 

But in Associations, there’s a myriad of people – mostly volunteers - doing their bit in what we used to call ‘smoke-filled rooms’ (which I suspect are excessively-airy in the current climate). But with assistance from the Secretariat team, they are the building blocks of what makes our Association great!

And if you’re truly reflective, there’s our predecessors to consider, who did the groundwork yesterday, that enables us today. 

‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ was a phrase attributed in the 17th century to Sir Isaac Newton.  But even he worked it up from a statement by a 12th century French philosopher, who in turn re-phrased a 6th century grammarian’s words.  Who knows if that chap Priscian had the original thought or not? 

The reason that the BVAA Annual Review typically contains so many expressions of thanks, is there’s an awful lot of credit to share around for BVAA’s successes. That’s also part of my job, but also my privilege.


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