It’s easy to go through life being worried about stuff, isn’t it? But do we worry about the right things? Perhaps we would all be better off worrying a little less and looking on the bright side a little more.
I’m not suggesting that we should all go through life whistling ‘Don’t worry, be happy’, while keeping our eyes tightly closed against the challenges that we face, the disadvantages that we might have to overcome and even the amount of effort we will have to put in to succeed.
But if the world is divided into optimists and pessimists, I’m happy to say that I’m one of the optimistic ones. My glass is half full and my cup runneth over. I’m not sure that I’d go so far as to say that this is the best of all possible worlds, but it isn’t bad.
As easy as riding a bike.
Four years ago I suffered an accident that was potentially life threatening and has been life changing.
I’ve been a keen cyclist for years so it was an everyday thing for me to cycle to work. After all, it’s good for your health and fitness.
As I passed a parked van, the driver stepped from the back into the road and the two sacks of logs he was carrying became a challenge that neither myself nor my bike could overcome.
A broken back, neck and scapula put paid to much of what I had previously considered in my life as ‘normal’.
Due to the skills, hard work and support of doctors, nurses and surgeons, my family and friends, I have been pretty much put back together again. But it has changed me, and not just in that I now have enough steel in my shoulder that I can set off an airport metal detector at twenty paces.
I think I appreciate things more. In particular I appreciate what it takes to rise to a challenge, to get past a drawback and to keep on trying when every fiber of your being is telling you to stop.
Going for Gold.
I was addicted to the coverage of Rio 2016.
When the Olympics came to an end my wife, Adele, and I always end up feeling a sense of loss having gorged for 4 weeks on the amazing efforts of athletes around the world.
And, didn’t we do well.
But 20 years ago, Britain came back from the Olympics in Atlanta with just one gold medal and John Magor decided to start channelling lottery funds into sport. The only thing was, how was that money going to be spent?
To a large extent it was the British cycling squad that showed the way forward with the theory of ‘marginal gains’. Make everything just a little bit better and the aggregated improvement will be huge. For 2016, Team GB had specialists looking at every performance aspect from the best way to improve sleep patterns to whether or not to shave pubic hair. (Yes, that’s true.)
And of course ‘marginal gains’ has spilled over into business management, but the fact remains that in 1996 we won 26 less gold medals than we did this year and a bunch of dedicated sportsmen and women and their coaches decided that that challenge could be overcome. And it was.
Nothing is impossible.
Once the razzmatazz of the Olympic circus leaves town, the real super humans enter the world stage. Well done Channel 4 for championing the Paralympics, and to the crew of the Last Leg for their irreverent humour on the subject of disability.
As I write this, GB has already won an astonishing 95 medals at the Paralympics, 43 of them gold. That’s already more than we achieved at the same point in 2012.
I’m amazed at the grit and determination that all of the competing athletes showed. In some small way, my accident and my long recovery has made me appreciate their achievements even more.
And the Last Leg? Well they say that you should laugh in the face of adversity and those guys do.
It’s so easy to turn drawbacks into excuses. It takes something special to turn those same drawbacks into something that spurs you on to success.
Always get back on your bike.
So what is ‘normal life’ then? It’s something that is full of challenges and drawbacks and effort that needs to be made.
Life, just like business, isn’t always easy but, as I said, for me it’s a case of looking at everything from a glass half full point of view.
Put aside what’s beyond your control and look at what is within your control. It isn’t about the challenges that you face; it’s about how you face those challenges.
This weekend I’m lucky enough to be cycling 100 miles to support CALM, a charity dedicated to preventing male suicide, the single biggest cause of death in men aged under 45.
People used to say, ‘count your blessings’ when I was a youngster.
It’s still pretty good advice.