Soul Millionaire


Is It Time To Wake Up?

Eldest Daughter, Lauren, had gained her degree. But wasn’t sure which direction she was pointing in Life.

Until she went to Africa.

Mum – trustee of a children’s charity – had organised another 10 day expedition.
And Lauren fancied another adventure: building school extensions, creating water towers, installing computers… and a safari to round off the trip.

Except she wasn’t ready for the children.

The children who constantly, constantly smiled… whilst dancing in a playground of questionable puddles.
The children who were excited that they would get more than one bowl of fou fou that day.
The children who sang to her. Haunting, harmonising songs.
The children who stroked her silky hair, and golden arms.
The children who laughed and screamed at her shimmying to the music.

Eventually, her heart broke.
And she disappeared for hours, to sit quietly. Staring.

Lauren woke up to the person she could become.

First, she completed a Masters degree.

Then, whilst her friends entered high-paying, glamorous-sounding careers in and around London…
Lauren chose to enter the charity sector.

Since then, she has travelled across the world… ultimately bringing hope, saving lives.

There are moments in our business lives when Destiny tries to get our attention.
sometimes it’s a constant tap on the shoulder.
Sometimes it’s a good thwack across the back of the head.

The message?
“Wake Up!”

– Perhaps it’s:
  “Wake Up! How do you need to change, to move your work from Good To Great!” 
– Or:
  “Wake Up! What do you already know, that you’re going to have to face up to in 12 months?”
– Or:
“Wake Up! It’s time to invest your heart in leading your team, rather than only playing Super-Adviser!”
– Or:
   “Wake Up to What’s Really Important in Your Life! And It Might Not Be Your Work!”

I wonder.
Is there a “Wake Up!” message you might be ignoring today?

Exciting Business? Or Just Breathing In & Out?

As the final film credits rolled, Wendy and I could hardly speak.
We looked at each other, in tears, and knew we had witnessed an extraordinary story.

More than that, we realised just how glorious our so-called Perfectly Normal life is.

The film we’d watched, mouths agape, was Breathe.

Set in the early 1960’s, this is the story of the “handsome, brilliant, adventurous” Robin Cavendish.

Struck down by polio at the age of 28, and given just 3 months to live… Robin did more than merely survive.
With the support and energising love of his wife, Diana, he became a pioneering advocate for the disabled.

Travelling the world, they were fuelled by hope: the hope that their example would transform the lives of those in similar devastating situations.

What struck us about the film was the pivotal moment when Robin’s wish was no longer “Please…Let Me Die”
The moment when he finally catapulted from the depths of darkness… to become an inspiring magnet to those around him – incapacitated or not.

The question is: What changed him?

The answer? His recognition that his life was not about him, and how little he could do with his paralysed body.
His life was now about his vivacious, courageous Diana, who simply would not stop loving him.
And his newborn son, Jonathan.

He now had Purpose, other than himself and what he could get to make him happy.
That new Purpose saved his life… and would eventually give life and joy to thousands of others.

Someone once said to me, “The purpose of a business is to win and retain new clients, whilst making a profit.”

That’s like saying, “The purpose of my life is to breathe in and out!”
Agreed. Difficult to live without it. But a reason for being born? Really?

Research shows that businesses with a purpose other than to make money… rise to the top of their sector, and become outstanding brands.
and consequently make more money anyway.

So, what exactly is the purpose of your business?

Give your team something more powerful to come to work for than merely to do a good job.
Inspire them with a purpose greater than to fulfil someone’s exit strategy, or to help someone acquire more stuff.

I believe we have the capacity to do better than that .
I believe we must do better than that!

As Bob Marley sang… “Light Up The Darkness.”
And my experience shows that we can do that in this profession, using our business as the conduit for greater things.

More Thinking, Less Tasks, Better Business

By age four, our youngest daughter had discovered how to delay bedtime.
She would clamber on to Daddy’s back, and guide him around the garden… saying “Goodnight!” to flowers and trees.

One Summer’s evening she was very quiet.
I stood still, knowing that something wasn’t quite right.

“Daddy” she asked slowly, “Why is it Peace out here?”

What to say to such a question?

Silently calling for inspiration, I responded, “Well, Sweetheart… Because Trees Never Hurry.”

“Oh, OK Daddy.” she said brightly; perfectly satisfied.

And so was born a phrase which has become part of the fabric of our family’s story.

I regularly meet business leaders, who are overwhelmed with tasks and projects.
Or frustrated by unrealised aspirations.
So, I help them strip back all the rationalisations and excuses, to understand what’s driving them to do what they’re doing.

Usually, they’re running in the desperate belief that all of this will make them happier.

We finally reach the point where they face up to this Truth:
Much of the quality, fulfilment and happiness of our lives – inside and outside of business – depends on the quality of our thinking.

And so we integrate three principles into our work together:
1.   How to think and plan more effectively, in business (and in life);
2.   How to carve out more time and space for that inspired thinking;
3.   How to discern when Doing More is counter-productive.

Those who have acted on these three principles, invariably report that doing so has transformed both their business and their life.

Beside my screen, I have this notice which faces me each day:
“Looking back, in 5 years… Will this next task really have mattered?”

As I glance out of my garden office, most of those trees are still there.
They’ll probably still be there… long after I’ve sent my very last digital message.

And – thinking of trees generally – i imagine them looking down, and smiling wryly (and peacefully), as we go about cramming more and more into our businesses and our lives.

Or, instead, as we choose to live more thoughtfully, meaningfully and joyfully.