Nigel Murray, M.D. of the Good Grocer Booths (a Lovemark in the North West of England) is a good mate and a top leader (his One Word Equity is Postie – because he always delivers!). He told me a great story recently and I invited him to share it on KR Connect.
Here it is. (This one’s for you Robin.) Congrats Postie on a great debut!
“It’s the small things …”
In a world where developing a personal brand increasingly appears to be more important than developing as a person, I was reminded this weekend that it is so often the small things that define our character as individuals … meaning the decisions we make and actions we take, very often at times when we are most challenged or conflicted.
I’m a cycling fanatic, much of my free time when not cycling is spent either watching or reading about it. It is also something that we at Booths have taken to our hearts over the last few years as a way of supporting and encouraging a more active lifestyle, plus we raise lots of money for charity along the way.
This weekend saw the culmination of the first of three cycling Grand Tours in the year – The Giro d’Italia – three weeks, 21 stages, 3,500 kilometres, 51,300 metres up-hill (some very, very steep) – all at race pace.
At the start of stage 20 British cyclist, Olympic Gold-medallist, 2018 Tour de France winner and BBC sports personality, Geraint ‘G’ Thomas, held a lead of 26 seconds, with just the 19km time trial stage to go. Roughly 45 minutes after setting off G was consigned to 2nd place as the ultimate winner, Primoz Roglic, beat him up the mountain by 40 seconds, winning the overall race by 14. G, in his own words, was “raw”, in other words he was demoralised, desolate, defeated.
The other notable event of the Giro this year was the announcement by the Manx Missile and arguably greatest sprinter of all time, Mark Cavendish, that 2023 would be his last race year – the legend that is ‘Cav’ is to retire.
For the non-cyclist readers the final stage of a Grand Tour is largely processional for the overall winner, however there is always the final day sprint to compete for. On the final stage things were pretty much going as expected, the teams were assembling and guiding their sprinters through for the final showdown. With around 2.5km to go, G nodded for Cav to ‘get on his wheel’ and for the next 1.5 km’s, at power output levels not possible by normal humans, he guided Cav and a team-mate into the perfect position in order for the sprint legend to claim his latest Grand Tour victory – in his retirement year. To win one Grand Tour stage would be the pinnacle of most pro cyclist’s careers. 38 year old Cavendish now has 54.
Cav and G have known each other for 25 years since their days in British Cycling’s development programme, but here’s the thing – they don’t ride for the same team!! The easiest thing for G to do on Sunday, was to sit safely in the peloton, keep his head down, maybe lick his wounds, just get over the line and get home. Instead he committed the most selfless, human, gracious, supportive and totally discretionary act – in his words “I saw he only had one team-mate left so I thought – well, if I can’t win, I might as well try and help an old mate out. Call it an early retirement pressie”.
I won’t remember Giro ’23 for the epically bad weather, for Primoz Roglic’ incredible stage 20 winning ride (chapeau btw, Primoz) or indeed for Cav’s 54th Grand Tour win. I’ll remember the race for a humbling act of selflessness, a decision taken at a time when possibly at his lowest ebb, a decision which was only intended to help and support – pure altruism (for those who believe).
These decisions, often small, often instant and often deeply personal are the things which really define us and our character (or brand, if you are that way inclined).