Soul Millionaire

The Thinking Bench

Let’s Re-Examine The Value of Goals

When you’re so young, five weeks can seem a very, very long time indeed.

Briony had seen an electronic typewriter in the shop.
Her yearning eyes let us know that this was what she wanted.
(Of course, this was long before she’d ever seen a child with a mobile phone or X-Box!)

So, day after day she did jobs with Mummy around the home, to earn some extra pocket money after school.
And press-ganged Daddy on Saturday, to help her with yukky tasks like cleaning out the rabbit hutch.

Gradually her ‘pennies’ began to fill the bottom of her big glass jar.
And for every penny, she’d watch us drop in two.

Determined day followed determined day.

Until the moment when she was standing in that shop again.
Then – with help – she lifted the big glass jar, heavy with coins, to show the lady at the counter.

Except now there were tears in her eyes.

She looked at the beautiful box, with the picture of that brightly coloured typewriter.
Then she looked more earnestly at the big glass jar with her many, many, hard-earned pennies.
And she clung tightly to it.

“Briony. You need to give the lady the jar with your money. Then she can give you your new typewriter.”
Gently, she shook her head.

Eventually, she was persuaded to part with her many, many pennies in her big glass jar.
And the lady at the counter handed Mummy the beautiful box.

When they got home, Briony helped to open the beautiful box.
She looked at the brightly coloured typewriter.

She put it on the floor.

And she never touched it again.

On that day, Briony learned a painful lesson, which not even our most eloquent explanation could have taught her.
(I’m not sure whose heart was more broken: ours or hers.)

She learned how easy it is to be tempted by the Bright Shiny Thing that we so badly desire.
And then how hard it is to toil away the precious days, weeks and months of our life, to possess it.

Only to find that the pleasure of possession or achievement can be fleeting. Even empty.

When my wealthy, semi-retired mentor, Andrew, first read this story… he emptied his wardrobe of his very expensive Armani suits and other impressive labels.
Then took them straight down to the charity shop.

He later chuckled at what he had lost, merely in order to impress others.
He saw that not all goals, or achievements, are equal in fulfilment.

So, here’s the question:
What seemingly-essential goal are you about to barter your precious, wildly fragile and gloriously possible days for?

And, when you finally get there… are you satisfied that  the pleasure of possession or achievement will ever match the yearning of anticipation?


Your Capacity To Change This World

Chris glanced at me briefly. And smiled.

Then he started to pour the teas and coffees.

Those who were new to the quarterly meeting of UK Adviser Team Leaders were confused.

What was the Managing Director doing, serving each of us our tea or coffee?!
Shouldn’t he be starting the meeting, and asking us to quickly get our own drinks?

As we sat down, he looked at me; more carefully this time.
And smiled again.

He knew what I believed and valued.
And he’d studied enough to remember that this was the lesson in Leadership that Jesus of Nazareth taught his closest followers.

After washing their feet – filthy with grime and sewage from the streets – Jesus had looked at them, and said: “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”

Servant Leadership is as demanding as it is  powerful.

  • It requires equal measures of Courage and Humility;
  • It stops us using employees and clients as functions in satisfying our personal agenda;
  • It combines selflessness with rigorous business discipline… a Heart of Gold with a Mind of Steel
  • It enables us to leave a legacy… beyond a book of clients and a wodge of recurrent revenue.

You don’t need to build a team of employees to practice these qualities.
You can lead wherever you walk and work.

Learning to become a Servant Leader is an inherent part of The Soul Millionaire Journey (just look at your MasterClass Workbooks).
And, in your lifetime, you could never learn all that you need to learn.

The records remark that Jesus  “Went about doing good.”
Healing, lifting, giving Hope and Vision, Strength and Life.

With no accumulation of property, possessions, wealth or position… He changed the world, heart by heart.

I believe – as a Servant Leader in your business – you can do the same.

As you enjoy this well-deserved Easter Weekend with your Loved Ones, I hope that you find reason to laugh and rejoice.

And I pray that you’ll ponder the possibility of your capacity to bless the world around you.


Is This The Unique Ingredient In Your Business?

Chesley Burnett ‘Sully’ Sullenberger III became a national hero, as a result of landing US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, on 15th January 2009.

All 155 passengers survived.

With both engines suddenly disabled by a passing flock of geese, and no way to reach the nearest airport…
…logic dictated that it was impossible to land the Airbus safely… anywhere!

Yet Sully came under investigation for Pilot Error.
Why?
Because some computer simulations said that he should have tried for La Guardia airport.
He stood to lose his career, pension rights, reputation… everything.

Thankfully, the flight recording and the salvaged, shattered engines finally proved the simulations wrong.

In the film, “Sully”, one of those chairing the public hearing said something like this…

“I can say with absolute confidence that, after speaking with the rest of the flight crew,
with bird experts, aviation engineers; after running through every scenario, after interviewing each player…
there is still an ‘X’ in this result.

And it is you, Captain Sullenberger.

Remove you from the equation, and the maths just fails.”

When we study the factors that help any business to own a unique position in the hearts and minds of (potential) clients…
… there is always one factor which is far from logical.

That factor is YOU:

  • The unique journey that only you have travelled;
  • the person you’ve become, as a result of that journey;
  • The person you’re intentionally becoming.

We bring our humanity to our work, whether we believe it, recognise it or like it.

Who you are and what you’ve become – your story – is part of the uniqueness in your business.

Everybody has a story.

When I was about to publish mine, I was embarrassed.
I thought that it wasn’t worth reading about.

It now seems that I was the only person who thought that.

Let the world know about your story.

They might decide they like what they hear.


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.