Recently, I met with Dr. John Patterson. John is well known as a thought leader in transforming education and the Principal of St. Vincent’s School; a specialist school for sensory impairment and other needs. It’s an incredible place where hugely impactful things happen. 

As I arrived, John handed me an apple; grown in the grounds of St. Vincent’s. I don’t know whether John had this in mind, but the apple carries great significance in how it relates to the type of work many of us are passionate about.

A great mind, from whom I learned a lot, used to end many training courses for those delivering services to young people with the phases: “You can count the number of seeds in an apple; but you can’t count the number of apples in a seed. You may never know the true impact of your work; as it will bear fruit over many years.” And it’s so relevant.

When we take time to invest in people, to place them at the centre of what we’re doing, provide the right tools, nurture them, support their development, have constructive conversations, find the right ways to make use of their skills and provide opportunities to develop new skills; we’re not only making a difference today, but we’re laying foundations. These foundations will last a lifetime – they’ll be carried through everything they do, and will help them to deal with a whole range of circumstances and situations.

This is clearly true in the context of both formal and non-formal education, and an easy principle to grasp. But it’s also hugely relevant within the workplace.

Placing people at the centre of everything we do – whether our teams, our customers, or the citizens for whom we’re delivering services – is critical to achieving the best possible outcomes – today, and long in to the future.

I often keep the apple in mind. And, by the way, that apple grown at St. Vincent’s was one of the finest!