Quit while you are ahead

It struck me recently what a skill it is knowing when to stop. Marshall Young (Director of the Oxford Praxis Forum), who I work with at Oxford, seems to me to be a past master at this.  A couple of weeks back we were having a typically rambling conversation when, as is often the case, a striking idea hailed into view (it was to do with the difference between an economy and an ecology). We spent some time exploring the idea, made some connections and identified some actions and then, quite naturally Marshall then drew that part of the conversation to a close and we moved on. I realised that isn’t the first time he has done that. He tends to let the natural rhythm of the conversation dictate the length of the meeting, rather than let the length of the meeting dictate the rhythm of the conversation. Since people seem to schedule everything rigidly these days, that’s incredibly rare. The diary rules the dialogue. Which makes for a lesser quality of conversation.

It also strikes me that there is great skill here that I (and many other people) could do with practising, instead of talking an idea to death through over-enthusiasm, which I am apt to do.

I’ll stop now.