Creatures of habit

The only downside of living in the glorious city of Bath, is the 90 minute daily commute into London.  Bleary eyed, living in our own little worlds, we Bath commuters dutifully line-up on the platform, grasping our daily shot of caffeine, ready to board the 6.46am to Paddington.

Over the years I have grown to recognise the familiar faces as they board the train and head to the same seat in the same carriage, ready to begin their working day.  It’s as though the comfort of having the same routine somehow makes the journey more bearable.

Every now and then disaster strikes as one of the 6.46 ‘regulars’ arrives at their preferred seat to find someone else sitting in it.  Flustered, they find another seat, appearing to take longer to get into their morning stride due to the change thrust upon them.  Even worse, their taking of another seat often has a domino effect as we arrive at the later stations and the ‘regulars’ from that station now discover that someone has taken their seat.

I have long since recognised that I am not ‘wired’ for routine.  I enjoy sitting in different seats for the commute so as to get differing perspectives on the beautiful landscape we pass through as we hurtle towards London.  For me, it makes the journey more interesting as I notice different things along the way.  It never fails to amaze me that after thirteen years I am still able to spot new sights often triggering new ideas.

It leads me to wonder how my fellow travellers avoid replicating their approach to commuting when they arrive at their offices.

With so many pressures in modern life it is so easy for us to seek solace in the comfort of routine.  Yet if we simply arrive at our desks, keep our heads down, focus on our daily routine and getting things done, how do we spot that our world is changing?

We all recognise the importance of innovation.  Often the seeds are sown from being the first to spot the small daily changes or trends in our respective markets that can so quickly build to become larger structural changes and opportunities.

This requires each of us to force ourselves to periodically look-up from our desks, leave the comfort of the routine and to consciously look at our world and markets from differing perspectives.

When did you truly last look up and out?

It’s not easy, but it just might make the journey seem shorter and much more rewarding.

Andrew Pawley, Partner, Aretai LLP

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