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“More of the same plus more of the same equals more of the same!!!”

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​It’s Monday night in a gym in Wycombe and five times World Kickboxing Champion, Corey Cain, walks among us as we bash out 50 press ups.

To my left and right a few students are barely bending their arms. They’ll do the same next week. They won’t get better. They won’t get stronger.

During my journey to black belt there was one student, a purple belt (the fifth of seven belts before you take black), who was a purple belt when I was a white belt and still a purple belt when I achieved my black belt six years later.

If there were 50 press ups, he’d do 43 just to come first. If we ran around the dojo to warm up, he’d cut corners. If we’d spar, he’d kick you in the groin. More of his same was more of mediocre pride, trying to come first rather than comehisfirst. He didn’t understand what we call the “Way”. He quit kickboxing after 12 years of more of the same to take up powerlifting…

I’ve often thought of Mr Singh. Intensely proud. Intensely stubborn. And now a purple belt for life.

The “Way” is an attitude, a journey. It starts from the inside out. In Japan there was no system of coloured belts like in the West. You were given a white belt on day one and after years of training the belt got darker and darker until it turned black and with it, if you had stayed with it and trained properly,youhad inevitably gotten better. 

The commitment was to the “Way”. Honesty with yourself and others. A refusal to accept more of the same and a promise to take quantum leaps in personal performance, mentally, emotionally and physically. Pushing personal limits bound by a purposeful practice that was more than going through the motions.

Bruce Lee once commented that he didn’t fear the man who practised a million kicks once, but the one who practised one kick a million times. In today’s world of social media and attention spans quicker than Usain Bolt, that seems an impossibility. Repetition of excellence. Marginal gains. Add it all up with honesty and a desire to constantly and humbly improve, and you’re on the way to self-mastery.

So what does Bruce Lee have to do with property and recruitment?? 

The cultural concept of EVP – Employer Value Proposition – is becoming more and more prevalent – and significant  – for employers and candidates and for publicly listed companies now a legal pre-requisite for the compensation of senior executives: i.e don’t tell the world you’re training 50 press-ups if you’re bending your arms and stopping at 43.

That companies’ management teams are being penalised for not having a culture that does and behaves as they say on the tin is in equal parts shocking and welcome. In any case the repercussions are now being felt through recruitment and HR practice. This seems to be going wrapped hand in boxing glove, to exhaust the analogy, with a perceived millennial viewpoint that they actually CARE about the sort of company they work for and therefore has an impact on the quality and type of candidates for roles.

Step in the need for EVP. Sort of like brand marketing, except in brand marketing you really can just make it all up, EVP has a more scientific approach to delve into the heart of companies’ values and uncover their culture – whether it’s more of the same or an energised, committed environment guided by common attitudes, values and principles. Values need to be lived not enforced. All very well declaring your company passionate and cliched if everyone is dour and lifeless.

Centering around employee engagement, EVP starts with a quantitative process, canvassing opinion and perception around the employee experience determining key drivers for attraction and retention. Moving on to qualitative workshops and competitor research, a rigorous process arrives at an employer’s image and external perception and its relationship to existing and developing values.

Core benefits include the attraction and engagement of better people, improved commitment of new hires, a workforce populated with brand ambassadors, increased access to top talent and significantly to the bottom line, reduced attrition and the subsequent cost of hiring.

In short, EVP gets to the heart of a company’s “Way” and if that company is sensible it will have strong values at its core that encourage employees to take the same quantum leaps as a purple belt needs to if they want to proceed to brown and black whilst at the same time engaging in purposeful practice where bent arm press-ups are not part of the culture.

Positive people create positive culture. Positive culture creates successful companies.

In the words of the Greatest to lace up the gloves, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

David Butler is Chief Marketing Officer for F3GROUP. The former head of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, he was a former Contributing Editor to GQ South Africa and has written and spoken extensively on cause related projects and business with purpose