Reflections at 60
I was born 30th March 1960. So I’m now 60. And I have to admit that if I had thought I’d be writing my reflections today on this particular milestone, I thought I would be writing them from somewhere else and, in all probability saying somewhat different things. Let me explain…
My wife Cathy, and I love the mountains. So each March we take ourselves off to the French alps for a few weeks in the beautiful Haute Savoie. It’s our idea of bliss. Skiing, walking, show-shoeing, french food and wine, sometimes joined by friends and family. All in some of the world’s most stunning scenery. What’s not to love?
This year, after 24 years of running the business we started together, Illumine Training, we decided to push the boat out a little. We had planned 4 weeks in the alps followed by a tour around France by car. A trip through the Jura, the Auvergne, Bordeaux and the Basque country were mapped out in great detail. A top box was going to hold the golf clubs and our bikes were going on the back of the car. Eventually we were going to head over to Italy where, in May I was going to cycle from Pisa to Rome to raise money for Myeloma with my friend Bob who has the disease which, 15 years ago, claimed my father’s life. It would have been quite a trip. And it will be quite a trip when we eventually make it.
And that’s kind of the point of this reflection. Every single one of us will have had our hopes and dreams scuppered, at least for a while, replaced by a new reality. Having steered our business through the aftermath of 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008 and the shock and uncertainty of Brexit, I thought I had faced my greatest business challenges. Apparently not! Worse was to come. Like many others, I don’t expect to have an income for many months to come. I hope that I can protect my loyal and hard-working team but they know that there are no guarantees even of that. Without a doubt, the defining time of my generation’s lifetime, is right now.
Perspective is all. We get to choose our reaction to the events in our lives. So, whilst I would love to be writing this whilst staring out of the window at my favourite mountain (Le Criou, Samoens, since you ask) I actually get to be staring out of my window in Windsor, England. But the things that make me happy and proud and grateful are not even a little bit dependent on what I can see from my window.
The journey that Cathy and I embarked on together all those years ago didn’t start with Illumine Training. It started when I was just 23 when we met. Our son was born a day after my 30th birthday, our daughter a couple of years later. And what a source of joy and pride they have been, each in their very different ways. Peter and I would love to be celebrating our respective 30th and 60th together – preferably off-piste in deep snow, but we both know that in the scheme of things it doesn’t matter. Love transcends time and distance. Peter will be 10,000 miles away. Sian is physically closer, but as a teacher with Covid 19 symptoms, she will be in isolation.
Cathy has been with me every step of the way in our business as in our life together. The ‘wind beneath my wings’ doesn’t begin to hint at the ways she has lifted and given me strength every day. Our family and our friends, our interests, hobbies, fun and successes far, far outweigh our setbacks and challenges. Whatever happens over the next few weeks and months, I am going to choose to count my blessings every day.
I’ll start that counting every time with Cathy, Peter and Sian. My wider family and fabulous friends have been and will continue to be a source of unbelievable joy. Much more than half my working life has been dominated by Illumine and the people I am lucky enough to work with every day mean so much to me. And through the business I’ve met people all over the world who inspire me and help me with their intellect and their generosity.
Isolation is going to be a big challenge for many of us, especially those of us who revel in the company of family and friends. But I will spend a little time every day being grateful. And if my mind drifts to thinking about which part of France or Italy I should be in, I’ll use that thought to look ahead to better days. And I’ll use a part of every day to finally spend time learning how to play the piano properly. And I will meditate because that helps me find that point of stillness and equilibrium deep inside me. I will work hard to continue building the company I’m so proud of. I’ll count my blessings and practice gratitude. Every day. Because I can.
Oh, and I’ll look forward to sharing a celebratory drink with each of my friends around the corner and around the world just as soon as we can!