We have all heard of pyromaniacs and arsonists. At an early age, I possibly demonstrated the traits of a potential “aquamanic”. As far as I can find out that word does not exist – but it might have done if I had not been cured.

My brother, on the other hand, was in training to become a pyromaniac. He was only six years old but decided one day to light a fire in the coal shed! There was the usual fire in the fireplace in the house, but he wanted his very own. The Fire Brigade gave him some sound advice.

As a five year old child, we were living on the outskirts of a small town in the North of Scotland. My father was the adjutant at what was then Dalcross, RAF station, which is now Inverness airport.

One Saturday a couple of my sisters and I were walking into the town when over a wall in the tennis courts, I spotted this pipe about 4 inches in diameter sticking out of the ground. Alongside it was this lever.

Always curious I headed for the pipe. Obviously, the lever was meant to be turned. What would happen when it was turned? I had no idea, so turn it I did.

I was a little surprised when a gush of water started to issue form the pipe. Ok, now I know what it does, no harm done, now to turn it off.

I forgot how to turn it off.

As hard as I turned the lever, I could not reduce the flow. I turned it one way then the next. The water just kept on gushing.

By this time my feet were in a large expanding puddle. I thought it was time to go.

In the certain knowledge that someone that knew what they were doing would soon turn up, we decided to leave and let that responsible person take over.

I was very relieved when, on passing the tennis court on the way to school, the following Monday, to see that the water had been turned off. I was also a little surprised to see that the court was flooded to a depth of about a foot.

Some years later, I was about 7, my father took me to RAF Padgate in Lancashire. As usual, I was instructed to stay in the car, an old Rover 10. He had to put in his flying hours.

After about an hour I became somewhat restless and decided to go for a walk. Blow me, did I not come upon this pipe about 4 inches in diameter sticking out of the ground. Alongside it was this lever.

The puddle was about 100 feet in diameter as we left the airfield sometime later, and it was still gushing. Obviously, there were no responsible people around on that airfield that day.

What is all this about? You might stretch a point and say it is about uncontrollable, unconscious bad habits.

Potentially we all have habits that we need to change and new ones to adopt if we are to develop a sound business for the future.

One good new habit for any of us to indulge in is to follow John Thornhill’s Partnership to Success Programme.


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