"You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
Eleanor Roosevelt's stirring quote came to mind this morning as I had breakfast with the Geoffrey Wadhurst Coaching Limited virtual team (i.e. wife Sandra and son Ollie) in the family kitchen.
But let me back-track. It all started when Sandra insisted that I pick her and a car-full of her tennis friends up from a boozy lunch at the Grove to celebrate Liz's 50th.
"Can't one of you drive?" I asked. I am, after all, building a business here and this was an unwelcome distraction.
It seemed that Sandra couldn't countenance the idea of not indulging in alcohol herself and since Liz's son could only drop the ladies off, it fell to me - founder and chief executive of a burgeoning executive coaching company - to pick them up after the lunch-time meeting of the Hashtag Connect Networking Group at the Red Lion Inn.
When I baulked aloud at the cost of these ladies working their way through the Grove's wine-list, the argument suddenly became about my company's very modest revenue performance. Sandra even suggested that I simply wasn't cut out to run my own business and should get a "proper" job. I admitted that I had had my doubts when setting up the company but, as an entrepreneur, believed that was all the more reason to persist. That's when I came out with the Roosevelt quote. The reaction was not what I had in mind as both Ollie and Sandra launched into a tirade of negative and unhelpful comments. I rapidly headed for the front door to make my way to the Red Lion Inn, pursued by Sandra's vocal reminder to be sure to pick her up.
As usual, the Hashtag Connect networking meeting followed its buffet lunch and stimulating informal networking session with a member profile slot. This week it was the turn of Steve the roofer and he announced that we would be moving to the pub's pleasant garden for his talk. I was intrigued - perhaps Steve was going to point out the various features of the Red Lion's roof as a practical guide to his trade. But as we assembled on the lawn, Steve emerged and stood beside a tin bucket, a large plastic container of water and several plastic bags of ice.
"Hi fellas," said Steve, grinning. "I was wondering what to do with my profile slot so I thought 'You know what? Let's do something for charity.'"
It's the latest viral craze, it seems. Pour a bucket of iced water over yourself then challenge someone else to. At some point in this process, money is pledged to charity. Steve promptly picked up the bucket and tipped its icy contents over his head to a round of gentle applause from the group.
"Right," he said, spluttering. "I have to nominate someone now." Before I could step back into the depths of the group, he singled me out. "Geoffrey, I nominate you."
"But I can't," I said. I was, after all, due at the Grove.
"It's for charity," said Phil, the social media coach in what I thought was something of a betrayal given how much I'd spent on his coaching packages.
"You must do the thing which you think you cannot do," said fellow coach Myles, unhelpfully. The last thing I need was Eleanor Roosevelt being played back at me.
Hoping that I might just dry out in time to pick Sandra up, I bowed to peer pressure and stepped forward. Steve had already replenished the bucket with icy water and was ready to drench me. "Hang on," I said. "I'm not a complete idiot." In a moment of rare far-sightedness, I took my phone out of my pocket and placed it at a safe distance on the grass. "Okay, Steve. Pour away."
The unpleasantness of the ensuing deluge was not even slightly eased by the thought that it was in aid of charity. In a rare moment of vindictiveness, I nominated Phil and headed for my car. I pulled the key fob - and a couple of ice-cubes - out of my trouser pocket and found that it no longer worked.
"That can happen when they get wet," a fellow pub patron said unhelpfully as he got into his own car. "You'll need to take it apart and dry it out completely, mate."And then what? "Then replace the battery and reset the key to the immobiliser." He slammed his car door shut and drove off. None the wiser, I realised I would have to call Sandra and break the news about her lift. At least my phone was still working.
It seemed that in all the excitement, someone had left me a voicemail. Was it a potential coaching client? Alas, no. It was Sandra, clearly the worse for wear. "Liz has just done something wonderful for charity," she said against a background of hysterical laughter. "The great news is she's nominated you to do it when you to do it when you get here. So Geoffrey - you may want to bring a change of clothes."