Welcome to 2018! If you're like me, you tuned in on Christmas Day to be part of the latest regeneration. And then watched earlier regeneration scenes again (David Tennant's adieu is still my favourite). I'm talking, of course, about Doctor Who, the fantastic sci-fi show about a travelling Time Lord that has graced UK screens, on and off, since the sixties. And being a bit of a nut about the Doctor, I started to think about what we could take from the show to apply to the way we work. I've found five lessons from the Doctor for the start of the year!
1. Be prepared to look in the mirror
One thing the Doctor does very well is reflect on his actions. No-one knows how old the Doctor really is, but he's been travelling the universe for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and, over that time, he's met a lot of people and done a lot of things. What's great about the show is that it takes the time to hold a mirror up to those actions, showing how past decisions can impact present behaviour. But it doesn't stop there. The Doctor takes those reflections and uses them to change his responses. The lesson? The new year presents the perfect opportunity to look back at how your work year has been, and decide on how your next year might change.
2. Take calculated risks
If you've ever watched even one episode of Doctor Who, you'll understand that the Doctor seeks out adventures, which usually result in a catastrophic threat to one or other race in the universe. While we might not all work in such life-or-death situations, this sense of adventure gives us the next lesson from the Doctor. Armed only with his immense knowledge, sonic screwdriver and human companion, the Doctor has got out of more scrapes than most of us have had hot dinners. How? By coming up with a plan, calculating the risks, and going for it! Most offices and workplaces would benefit from a bit more spontaneity, so why not take up the mantle this year?
3. Don't be afraid to reinvent yourself
If you've worked in a particular role for a while, you might feel that your options are limited. You talk to the same people, do largely the same work, and characterise the same business persona day in and day out. And it's hard to change the way you behave when the patterns are so set. Luckily, the Doctor can show us the way, again! The regeneration idea is said to have been developed to ensure the show continued past the health problems of the first actor playing the role. Since then, it's been used to reinvent the Doctor multiple times. A wide range of different actors have brought something new to the role each time, drawing in new audiences and delighting old(er) ones! Without the necessity of the goodbye scene, you can make a decision to reinvent who you are while you work. You may surprise yourself at the freedom it can bring.
4. Challenge people's expectations
A sci-fi show that has pushed the boundaries to create ever more striking and terrifying aliens is bound to challenge expectations. And it's definitely come a long way from rickety-old Daleks. As well as this, the show has become a vehicle for much greater social commentary, not least because the Doctor's companion's have become much more rounded and challenging characters. The latest regeneration brings the most exciting change. The next Doctor will be a woman! It may be 2018, but this is a huge step for the show and one this lifelong feminist firmly welcomes. And it demonstrates the benefits of challenging people's expectations. How many young girls will this new incarnation now inspire? As in 3 above, you need to shake things up from time to time, ask difficult questions and raise your head above the parapet.
5. Be yourself!
Last but not least, the Doctor shows us the power of being yourself in everything you do. A show that has lasted so long needs to innovate and regeneration is one way it has done that. And while each Doctor shares the history of the last, each actor brings their own personality to the role, making the Doctor new each time. The Doctor has a different look each time they regenerate. They match with a travelling companion that creates an interesting dynamic, again different each time. And, throughout their time, you get to know both the Doctor and his friends as themselves, not as the ones that have gone before. The final lesson points us towards embracing ourselves. The best times I've had at work are the times when I've been open about myself as a person, shared my interests, and sought to find out about the lives of the people I'm working with. Not only does this make reinvention easier - because people are more accepting the more they know you - it also makes the office, workshop, or any other work environment, more enjoyable.
My love for the show may not be shared, but we can all learn from the Doctor! Why not put some of the lessons into practice this January? Let us know how you get on.