A Focus on the Outcome

By Doron
09 February 2021

Even for those suffering with the most severe bout of Zoom fatigue, the Handforth Parish Council Zoom meeting was the one video call we all seem to have been unable to "log off" from this past week.

What should and in regular circumstances would have been a very unextraordinary session, ended up descending into a chaotic exchange with quite a bit of shouting and a generous peppering of piquant language.

With cantakerous exchanges, accusations of power grabbing and, frankly, terrible virtual meeting etiquette, the dramatic highs and lows of the Handforth Parish Council meeting also brought about some valuable lessons.

As for the heroine of the story, Jackie Weaver, well - she has rightfully become an overnight sensation. Weaver, Chief Officer at Cheshire Association of Local Councils in England, weathered the challenges of the December meeting and its bureaucratic dispute with patience and aplomb.

When interviewed for the BBC's Woman's Hour by Anita Rani last Friday, Weaver appeared most bemused by the aftermath of the meeting going viral and also shared some useful insight as to how she managed to keep her cool in the face of Handforthgeddon.

I was particularly taken by Weaver's response to Rani's question towards the end of the interview about how she managed to hold it together and keep so calm despite being shouted at throughout the meeting.

She offered: "I guess for me it's about being focused on what you're trying to achieve. So, there would have been a certain pleasure in fighting the argument... but actually I wasn't there to train them in how you hold a parish council meeting. I was very focused and I was there to support...".

What Weaver shared here was a simple yet effective lesson for a variety of circumstances and not just those where conflict upends your plans.

Sometimes we let emotion overshadow what we and/or others are trying to achieve and it is then very easy to lose sight of the desired end point we're aiming for.

If, instead, one remains focused on the ultimate goal and keeps it in sight as the guiding light, then it doesn't matter what obstacles, distractions or - in the case of the Handforth Parish Council meeting - shouting might threaten to block the path to the overall outcome.

And so, despite showing us a lot of what not to do, the frenzied Handforth Parish Council meeting also offers us a positive learning point from Weaver: focus on what you're trying to achieve.

Useful advice, that.