George Orwell 1984..?

I once watched a movie some time ago about two groups of people whose task it was to get to the top of a high mountain. One group was given a guide whose approach was perpetually encouraging; when the group started to lag she would paint a glorious picture of the top of the mountain and the triumphant feelings which would occur when it had been successfully arrived at.

The other group were given, as their guide, a burly ex – marine whose approach was punitive – if they didn’t get to the top they would have him to deal with.

Towards the end of the programme, we were shown a picture of the summit of the mountain devoid of people. As the camera focussed on the rocky scene, we heard in the near distance, the sound of group of climbers being berated by a furious leader and, sure enough, the first group to appear was the one which had been abused by their commander. The group which had been encouraged were by this point feeling totally discouraged as they learnt that they had been pipped to the top. I felt very disappointed by this movie as I had, until that moment, always believed that encouragement was a much better and more effective way to get people to do something than an approach which promoted fear.

One of the most important novels of the 20th Century, “1984” by George Orwell has as its central theme, the power of fear to control the minds of a population. Quite contrary to any notion that people are able to retain an independence from an authority however dictatorial, Orwell put forward the deeply depressing view that if people are made truly frightened, they no longer retain the ability to act independently. In fact, he contended, people are able to be controlled completely through fear. “1984” is the starkest and most effective warning to us of this…

Despite these two powerful examples, I do not believe that controlling people by means of fear or greed is the best way to encourage obedience or achievement. I have noticed that the people who have achieved most in life have been those people who have been genuinely motivated to do something. In my experience, it has been the love of an activity which has caused them to succeed in it. My nephew who most loves playing football is the one who has made most rapid progress from his brothers because he is always playing it and In a professional context I feel very strongly that our role as a fund manager and advisor to investors in that fund, as guardians of an element of their portfolio in our chosen asset class is to always bring common sense to the table and to keep what we do simplified and to respect and encourage all elements of our deals. By sticking to what we know and love and not being swayed by the headlines, by greed or by fear we can and do continue to progress and reach objectives – together with them (investors and end users) in a way where everyone enjoys the experience and the relationship and everyone has a return on their investment, their effort and their commitments.

Adam Mackrell


Oxford Spires Group