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The answer is – almost always – 42

Douglas Adams was almost spot on with the answer to the question of the meaning of life, the universe and everything being 42.

It’s pleasant-looking and a good answer. Very nearly perfect, but before I get to that…

In our family, 42 is a valuable number when we’re travelling. We’ve been known to occasionally engage each other in minor skirmishes (usually related to my navigational skills or lack thereof). There’s been an occasional artillery strike. And maybe one brief battle. However, in each of these occasions, someone said ’42!’ and hostilities ceased.

’42!’ is our way of stepping back from drama, focussing on the good, and if necessary finding solutions. It only works though, because we agree to it. We give permission to be influenced by whoever calls ’42!’


Influence is different from power. If you have positional power you can direct tasks and activities. If you have influence you can do so much more. Leaders with influence can encourage, equip and educate. Influence can’t be forced by leaders; it’s something which is given to leaders.

As a leader how can you deepen your influence?
Be interested in people’s goals, passions, and ambitions. Be consistent in your attitudes and behaviours. Be forgiving of your own and other people’s mistakes.

Be clear about your expectations. Be balanced in your motivation to increase your influence (selfish and selfless). Be optimistic. Be willing to respond if someone else calls ’42!’.

Be available to people. Be a bit fun. Be willing to buy the coffees.

Which reminds me…I said I think Douglas Adams was almost right: the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything is 42 – and coffee.

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