If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew…

Since when did the start of the weekend become an anti-climax? It’s Friday afternoon and like most others outside of the service sector I should be looking forward to some well-earned (just a personal view) R&R…yet I am indifferent. I wonder what this says about me?  Is it that my life outside of work is so miserable that I would rather be at work than chillin’ like the proverbial villain that I am? Or maybe I am just tired and the weekend seems forced, or something of an effort, a strain maybe? Maybe it is the thought of a busy weekend socially and on the sporting front that grates at me in some odd way? Whatever, I am indifferent about it all. Now I am sure that there is an Oodle (an appropriate collective noun I feel) of Psychiatrists out there who might read all sorts into that but I have news-you cannot read a blank page. And that is what I am at this moment!


It has been a busy week on the work front at the National College of Ireland. It has been one of those weeks where I have attended a lot of meetings, all really important and productive but just crazily busy. I have been meeting with social entrepreneurs, major businesses, Business in the Community, students, staff, the director of quality, the management team and so on.

In addition, we launched the Newstalk 106-108 fm Enterprise Competition at NCI yesterday, (http://newstalk.ie/newstalk/studententerprise/) which incidentally a team from the School of Business here won last year. We have an immense commitment to the enterprise agenda at NCI and competitions of this nature serve to reinforce that commitment in a meaningful and practical way. In addition, we are now into week 2 of the new academic year and the building is thankfully very much alive and a hive of activity. That is how it should be.

This is also a new year in academic terms for more than one reason. We have a greater number than ever of mature students who have been motivated to return to education as a consequence of the economic decline.  This has to be good for Ireland Inc. The reason that I am so firm in this conviction is a consequence of the fact that I have a strong belief in the concept of muscle memory. Let me explain.

To those of you who are athletic or who like myself…were once athletic (disputable statement) the concept of muscle memory should be familiar. When you take a hiatus from training as a consequence of injury or as a consequence of laziness your muscular sculpted form soon begins to atrophy-roughly translated as ‘muscle turns to fat’. Then when you resume your training regime for a period the fitness and shape comes back surprisingly quickly. Your body and your muscles have an imprint of what fitness looks like and feels like. That’s roughly the concept of muscle memory.

I talk about the concept of muscle memory because I believe that Ireland Inc. has economic and entrepreneurial muscle memory. The Celtic Tiger even in its atrophied state has an economic and entrepreneurial muscle memory of how we learned to create, develop, grow and sustain a successful economy and economic model. We learned how to make money hand over fist and yes, I know, I hear you, we learned how to spend it as well. In essence many of the skills essential to building businesses, those germane to economic revival and to creating enterprise have been ingrained on the economic and social consciousness via economic and entrepreneurial muscle memory. We are still economically and entrepreneurially competent but somehow though we are not as conscious of that as we should be. We are in fact unconsciously competent.

There is some good news though. The government in its response to the economic and unemployment crisis has decided to put some energy into awakening economic and entrepreneurial competence, particularly amongst those recently made unemployed in the financial sector. The response is all about helping us to again become consciously competent! Through FÁS the government Training Agency a new Entrepreneurship Programme which aims to do just this has been developed in collaboration with the National College of Ireland. The FÁS Entrepreneurship Programme builds upon economic and entrepreneurial muscle memory as it seeks to incite and precipitate high levels of business creation amongst highly skilled individuals. It promises to be a fascinating Programme and the first course commences on Wednesday of next week with yours’ truly here leading a two day entrepreneurship seminar. This will be followed by two day seminars on Strategy and on Corporate Finance. Details of the Programme are available from FÁS and also from the College website http://www.ncirl.ie.

Anyway, I have another idea. Why don’t I commit to getting the real muscle memory out for a jog or a gentle cycle this weekend? Maybe in doing so I will reawaken my love for the weekend? Maybe in doing so I will inject some extra wind into my sails as I stock up on weekend goodness, buoyed by the defeats of Kerry and Manchester City? Then I can face tirelessly into another enjoyable week down on the NCI Farm.

And in case you think I am a tad melancholic this fine Friday afternoon I will share with you another of my poetic muses. It relates to the summer days that as a boy I spent in the hay fields of my grandparents’ small farm, Golan, outside Dromore in Co.Tyrone. I hope that you enjoy it.


She was good to me

I liked her because she smelled good

There was a warmness not only in her smile but

In how she greeted me

Always unassuming

Natural, generous, caring

No need to say I love you

I just knew

I remember the walks

Armstrong’s Farm, and a ceilidh

In McCusker’s by the mill,

McHugh’s Bray.

I remember tea and soda,

Melting butter and homemade rhubarb jam,

The scent of cloves,

While the men made hay.

And as the hard edges of the

Freshly shaven grass

Pressed into my well tanned boyish legs

I knew even then,

In my undeveloped heart, and

In my youthful comprehension of

The scene in which

I played only a bit part,

That it was

A special moment,

The sun gently shining

A summer breeze gently blowing

The smells of grass, farm and food

Melting into a swirl of warmth and

Comfort and safety and belonging.

I fitted in,

I knew my place amongst my own,

And yet her unimposing form

Stood large and kind.

She was good to me

I liked her because she smelled good and

I loved her for her kindness.