5 share Friday – 23 March 2018

1. Quote I’m pondering this week “Life is beautiful not because of the things we see or do. Life is beautiful because of the people we meet.” – Simon Sinek

2. Video I’m being inspired by: Simon Sinek on love, leadership and the little things. It’s part of a longer interview with him. This 15 minute slice is about understanding great things like love and happiness coming from the little things in life. He talks about how this stuff isn’t measurable and how it builds up over time, through consistency and thinking of others. It’s well worth watching.

3. I travel a fair bit lately and I’ve found the Eagle Creek pack it cubes have improved my packing dramatically. I’ve got cubes for cables and chargers, cubes for underwear and cubes for dirty clothing. I can open my bag and get right to the item/s I want. Amazing! No more cables and chargers tangled up in my bag, no more finding underwear by having to pull out all my other clothes. Check them out, you’ll never go back.

4. While travelling this week, I watched one of my favourite films – Quadrophenia. When younger I would travel to Soho in London now and then to buy my clothes (I liked the fitted MOD look). I could never have imagined later in life I’d be working down the road from the place my favourite MOD shop off Carnaby street used to be. Right now I’m travelling to Brighton during the week and working not far from where some of the scenes of Quadrophenia were filmed. Life really is something, I often wonder if there is a masterplan or not.

Oh, and If you haven’t seen the movie then don’t wait any longer it’s a corker.

5. I recently created an Instagram account. Most of my friends have one so it’s been interesting to see how people are using it. After reading this and the authors follow up I have doubts as to whether I’ll continue having an account. It sounds too far fetched to be true, but is it?

I’m considering deleting my social media existence (except professional network Linkedin) and have found this site that helps you rid the internet of your presence, take a peek if you’re interested too.

Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you

Today my twin brother messaged me saying he always knew I’d move away. He’s right, I love to travel. It’s not the act of travel (business travel can be especially dull) it’s the experiences and people which are the magic.

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”Sir Richard Burton

As I write this I’m in the bar area of a boutique hotel in Copenhagen Denmark. Having just had a long chat with a member of staff, I’m now drinking a free beer and have tips on where to go after work tomorrow in order to eat some good Danish food – that’s some magic of travel right there.

We all have a thirst for travel, we’re born with it. Some of us realise, most of us don’t. As a child of the 1980’s I’d watched Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark. The opening theme music pretty much had me when it came to feeling alive with a thirst for adventure. I suspect Indiana Jones has inspired many adventures for people over the years. Our 4-year-old son Mack often dances to the main theme and when I’m with him it’s easy to see his thirst for life. I’m confident he’s going to have some travel adventures.

I wanted to travel and be my own type of Indy. By my early twenties, I had the idea of mixing travel with something deep and meaningful. I looked at many options, I signed up to a Kibbutz but decided not to do it, I almost joined the Royal Navy to explore the world and learn engineering, I bailed before signing the papers. I’d been to Turkey and got a taste for mountain adventure in Land Rovers and canoes, it wasn’t enough. I was finding adventure and adventure was finding me, though no-one but myself was or would be benefitting, I wanted to do more.

The world has heavenly places and hellish places. Part of what I needed to discover was a more balanced view. For me, this meant experiencing more hell. That’s when Nigeria entered my life – in 1997 it was the most corrupt country on earth (according to Clive Anderson) and I decided I needed to experience it.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”Aubrey Marcus

One thing I’d discovered was that Nigeria would welcome the engineering skills I had. So I went to a volunteering conference in the city of Bristol (UK). There I signed up to a stint teaching local Nigerians engineering skills, with the goal of large corporations employing them instead of ex-patriots from other countries.

Not even Clive Andersons great journalism could have prepared me for what was ahead. From constant police harassment, the need to bribe authorities for everything, major bouts of dehydration and lack of food, being held at gunpoint, seeing dead people at the sides of roads, accused of being a drug dealer (where a guilty sentence carried life-threatening consequences), lack of running water and electricity, being the chosen one for a wealthy families daughter (arranged marriage) and leaving the country due to severe illness. I had experiences I would never forget.

It was an awakening, one that changed me forever…more than anything before and anything since. There are things I witnessed I’ve still not been able to tell anyone and things that happened to me that no 24 year old should have happen to them. The strange thing is, I wouldn’t change my choice given the chance to go back in time. I made great friends, I suffered as I would never want either of my sons to ever suffer, though I came back a changed person. A person who I could never have become without Nigeria, a better person, one I was proud of.

“You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days.”  Alain de Botton

There are lots of people and books that shape us. From close friends and work colleagues to authors (pertinent ones like Jack Kerouac, Alain De Bottonand Marcus Aurelius), yet it’s the real experiences that truly shape a person. For me, in Nigeria, I changed from being unhappy with what life had dealt me, to being grateful for waking up each day and having opportunity. I still look back fondly on my time there, despite the hardship and struggles.

We all need to go to the edge of our comfort zone and then jump. It’s what differentiates those who are merely alive and those who feel alive.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”Mark Twain

5 share – Friday 16 March 2018

1. Quote I’m pondering this week Me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for because it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something and if you find that moment, it lasts forever.” – Richard from The Beach – Alex Garland

2. Decisions – Back at the tail end of 2017 I chose my word of the year for the upcoming year. That word is ‘change‘. 2018 is already proving to be one requiring big decisions in my life, so having my word of the year is helping me make important choices (big and small). If you’re interested in having a word to guide decisions (it really can make a huge difference), have a look at this short guide.

3. I had a conversation about Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird this week. Atticus from the original novel, is the person I’ve always (and still do) aspire to be like.

When a person sees injustice where others don’t, that makes them a prototype, Atticus is that prototype. No matter if you read the book or see the movie (both are outstanding), it’s hard not to feel in the presence of justice, love, and fairness – the good in the world. A business I once had was named after him and I’ll always be grateful to the author Harper Lee for giving me a strong male figure to fill that gap in my childhood.

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie then don’t wait any longer, you’ll be hooked forever.

4. Free online learning for work & life – I’ve been using www.businessballs.com since 2012 and they’ve recently upgraded their site, making it even better. No matter what I’m after for work or personal this is the first place I go as chances are there is magic to be gained. If you haven’t tried it then go check it out, I highly recommend it.

5. I’ve been learning more about Denmark and what much of the US and UK population do not like about it – i.e. Scandinavia’s high taxes or socialist ideas. I’m fine with the idea of paying high taxes and getting what the Danes get back, it’s actually pretty marvellous, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about?

On top of being super happy, they have that Nordic insistence on knowing how to do practical things and doing them well, as well as taking care of their body with time outdoors every day. The hard-earned lesson of freezing Scandinavian winters is that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing—that all you really need to get through difficult times is shelter and sustenance, kith and kin.

If you haven’t looked at adding a little Danish into your life, it’s worth exploring. Read more here https://www.amara.com/luxpad/hygge/

Rock stardom and the dream

I was going to be a rock star, at least that’s what I’d planned. If you’d told the 19 year old me that later in life I’d be driving a VW estate with a roof box and holidaying on the Isle of Wight, I’d have told you that you don’t know me.

I’d had an adventurous childhood, one involving run ins with Police, a reputation with my brother at school (for the large scale pranks like locking the front gates with an industrial padlock) and some local fires requiring fire engines to put them out. I liked to be mischievous as long as people weren’t getting harmed. It felt natural for me to mature my rebelling to adulthood, and for me that meant rock stardom.

While in a band, the 2 songs that kick started any practice session were Rock n Roll star and Supersonic, both by Oasis. They are songs full of dreams, power, control and the feeling of being alive. Becoming a rock star was my ticket to all of them and on top of that I’d have continuous adventure and freedom along the way.

As a band, we’d recorded in a studio, done some gigs and had major fallings out, surely this meant we were headed for the big time?

Well, if only we’d focused more on practising and less on life style. Trying to live like a rock star doesn’t make you one.

I’d started to get advice from the pros, strangely all recommending the life of a rock star wasn’t for me. Conversations with bands like Blur and Manic Street Preachers ended in telling me it wasn’t my dream. I didn’t know famous people, I just wasn’t afraid to talk with them at gigs and bars. It turns out there’s one thing rock stars like more than groupies and that’s giving advice to wannabe rock stars over alcohol.

As a band we broke up, I wanted to experiment with different types of music, they didn’t, a common story. Other influences had introduced me to writing and poetry through movements like the beat generation. I was now writing my own stories and listening to the music of Bob Dylan & Tom Waits. I knew the rock star life wasn’t for me and if I was really honest, I wasn’t a good enough musician or songwriter anyway.

So how is this related to driving a VW estate and holidaying on the Isle of Wight?  Well, if people I’d met for one night could see my dream of rock stardom wouldn’t make me happy (Manic Street Preachers sussed me out in 2 hours) then what actually was my dream?

It was pretty simple really, it includes the essential ingredient of feeling alive. Last year I went even further by defining a 10 year plan for a remarkable life, it helped me visualise and see where I would be 10 years from now.

I screw up often. Either by not being the best person I could be, or not realising how important something is for those I love. I’m not perfect, none of us are. The important thing for me has been the realisation that my dream isn’t a goal, it’s the actual journey. A journey involving continuous improvement, learning and doing to make the best impact on not just me, those around me too.

So yeah, on the outside I might appear to have the life my old geography school teacher had (he had wool jumpers and an estate car too). What’s cool is that it turns out he most likely had an awesome life.