A reformed cynic speaks.

There is an old saying, “a cynic is what an idealist calls a realist”.

Peter Senge wrote, “Scratch the surface of most cynics and you find a frustrated idealist — someone who made the mistake of converting his ideals into expectations.”

Most of us start our businesses with high hopes and ideals of changing the world. I had dreams of ridding the world of dental diseases until someone said to me, “If you can’t get all doctors to stop smoking, what hope have you of getting everyone to floss?”

Once I had recovered from what I initially thought was an offensive comment, I soon realised that it is not only silly but a life shortening exercise, to want something for someone more than they want it themselves.

Once this simple life lesson had been inwardly digested and understood I was able to go back to being an idealist – but on my terms, nobody else’s.

 

 

Lessons Learned from the RNLI

I was at a meeting at our local RNLI station in Union Hall a few months ago. We were counting the cash from the annual fundraising collection in and around Skibbereen.

Whilst we were waiting to get started I was nosing around, as I do – curiosity being one of my core values, and came across these files on a shelf.

The RNLI exists because things go wrong on the sea or sea-shore. If everything went according to plan, if there were no storms, no tides, no human or mechanical errors, the volunteers who man the rescue boat would not have to routinely put their lives at risk.

Of course not everything goes smoothly during rescues or practicing sessions. So they have a file of what they have taken on board (excuse any pun) during any activities. I’m sure someone in Health Education England, the GDC, the CQC or any combination of “stakeholders” could have spent months with focus groups, working parties and in depth questionnaires to produce a paragraph length title for such a file.

In West Cork (and I’m sure throughout the RNLI) it is pragmatically called: “LESSONS LEARNED”.

Where is yours?

Carl Richards’ Newsletter – Forget working hard. Try resting hard.

I read and enjoy several dozen (or more) Blogs / newsletters which I should share more often. Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner and creator of “The Sketch Guy” column which has appeared in the New York Times since 2010. His website is “The Behavior Gap” (sic) and here’s the Link

He wrote an excellent book “The One Page Financial Plan” which is well worth a read if you wrestle with money.

Here’s his most recent newsletter which may well strike a chord or two.

I couldn’t agree more.

Hi Alun, Carl here. 

I’m tired.

Like, really tired.

And I’m tired of being tired. 

Up at 5 in the morning? Tried it! Daily workouts? Yep. Paleo, bulletproof, gluten-free, cold showers? Check. 

Build a business, start a side hustle, dominate Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook? Yeah, I’ve done all that too.

You know what I don’t understand? How come nobody ever talks about rest? 

You know, rest. As in, relaxing. Doing nothing. Getting a good night’s sleep. That stuff’s kind of important, too… 
… 
I know I’m not alone here. 

The last 10 years have felt like the #CrushIt decade. Every time you turn around somebody is on social media talking about how they’re crushing something. Gary Vaynerchuk wrote the book on it, and according to him, people “need to work harder. And faster. There’s really nothing else to it. I’m exhausted every day, but I’m making all sorts of things happen in my 18 hours.”

Sorry, Gary. But I disagree. I don’t need to work harder and faster. And neither do most of the people reading this. I have a feeling most of us are already working hard enough. 

And you know what else, Gary? Being exhausted every day sounds like a stupid way to live.

… 
Look, if this doesn’t speak to you, just toss this email in the trash and forget you ever saw it. Crush on.

But if it does speak to you, if you’re nodding your exhausted head along knowingly, then consider this message my permission to make this the year of resting hard.

I don’t care if the year’s half over. Start now and keep going for 12 months. This year we’re going to be as good at resting as we are at crushing things. We’re going to become pros at turning off social media, getting great sleep, working less, and living more.

Seriously. Give it a shot. Start today. What do you have to lose? A handful of Twitter followers? A contract? A bit of income?

What you have to gain is a) peace, b) clarity, c) more time for your friends and family, d) not dying of a heart attack or an aneurysm at the age of 50.

Chances are, you don’t need a cup of coffee and a slap in the face. More like some decaf herbal tea and a hug.

Sound good?

Great. 

Enjoy your rest,

-Carl

Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

I’m writing this on the 19.12 from Reading to Swansea – delivering me (hopefully) at ReesAcres Cymru en route. I have just enjoyed a excellent day at the Henley Regatta, many thank to my hosts. As ever my PA coordinated flights, trains and hotels for me, bless you. I was booked on the 10.30 from Reading, due to alight at the first stop, Twyford, to change for Henley. 

GWR are generally an excellent rail provider (to use the contemporary biz speak). I won’t mention the third world toilets on my current train – what is it about train lavs. that make them so difficult to keep functioning? I’m sure Brunel would have sorted them out had he lived beyond the tender age of 53.

Back to Reading, the train was delayed until 10.40 – no problem I thought.

It’s a journey I have made a couple of times before and was surprised that I was able to spend so long reading the complimentary newspaper before we came to a halt at….Slough. We had passed through Twyford, Maidenhead, Taplow and Burnham, all fine places in their own way but not when you are viewing them from the unintended inside of a rail carriage.

As you can imagine I wasn’t on my own, there were probably 50-60 others making the same journey. When we alighted at Slough we wondered what had happened and asked the GWR guard on the platform.

After ensuring the train left safely to continue its journey to Ealing Broadway he retreated to his customer service bunker to investigate. It turned out that the train was 10 minutes late leaving Reading and so, in order to make up time, they decided to omit the four scheduled halts at Twyford, Maidenhead, Taplow and Burnham. Presumably the “no stops” have less of a weighting in their corporate KPIs than late arrivals.

We duly crossed over the tracks to the other platform and caught the next train back in the other direction, hoping that no reason arose to leave out our scheduled stops. It didn’t.

I understand that s**t happens and decisions must be made to catch up with schedules. I understand that even the best of railways have problems – and GWR are pretty good as UK railways go. 

What I don’t understand is why nobody had the good manners to apologise to us for what had happened. To carry on with the in carriage visual display that “the next stop is Twyford” even when we were parked at Slough. For nobody to bother to make an announcement that “we are sorry for the cock up and if you cross to platform 5 you can continue your journey”.

As it was we were all p’d off with the lack of communication and apologies. 

When something goes wrong – apologise. It diffuses the situation. It helps right the wrong. It leaves less of a bad taste.

50 years ago today – Bath Blues – Teenage Dreams So Hard to Beat

The last Saturday in June 1969 was the 28th of the month, it was the day after I had finished my O-level exams. Ahead of me was a long summer, some holidays in West Cork where the seeds of my current residence were sowed, 4 weeks clerical work at SWEB and a return to “the 6th form”.

But first was “The Bath Festival of Blues”. 1969 was the height of The Blues Boom in the UK ie it was just about to finish. This proved to be a forerunner of the festivals to come but was thankfully mud free. There is an argument that this event was a directly responsible for influencing Michael Eavis to start The Glastonbury Festival – Somerset, open air, music etc.

I attended with 30,000 others, the venue was Bath Rec, the security was scant and the atmosphere was very, very laid back. My friend Pete (who went on have a varied and successful career in the oil industry) & I hitch hiked from Cardiff (it took ages) and then caught the train back; silly really as a cheap day return would have cost a tiny amount more than the single fare.

What do I remember? Setting my eyes on the legendary DJ John Peel (who was responsible for our house being affectionately nicknamed Rees Acres), Fleetwood Mac headlining, Led Zeppelin’s performance, Ten Years After warming up for their astonishing performance at Woodstock, Keith Emerson’s Hammond organ solos and choreography, the political call and response of the Liverpool Scene (featuring poet Adrian Henry).

Most of all I remember feeling “grown up” and free to be myself, I have never lost my love of live music and this kicked off a decade of seeing every band that I could in venues large and small. I have grown more selective over the years but am still a sucker for a “bit of live.”

Superstitious…moi?

Two journeys (so far) today. Seat numbers allocated at random, should I be concerned?

Remind me of the date….

 

 

 

 

 

Darkness on the Edge of Town

Friday 3.30am, a long drive after a late flight, time to go to bed.

After a full working day.

Saturday 3.30am, alarm goes, time to get up. 

For the past four years Susan & I have joined hundreds of others setting off from Skibbereen GAA ground to walk 5Km from Darkness into Light in aid of Pieta House.

I have personally known several people who have taken their own life, one would have said that all of them had plenty to live for but chose to leave their families and this world behind. Just writing about it upsets me. 

I have met dentists after my talk “Is Dentistry Making You Sick?” who have admitted to me that they have self harmed or contemplated suicide. Although I have had my share of ‘black dog’ periods I am grateful for being spared the thoughts of no return.

As we all walked in silence from the edge of town through the streets watching the sun gradually rise I thought of my friends and the thousands of others and said a prayer that no one else will take that lonely exit.

“Well everybody’s got a secret, son
Something that they just can’t face
Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it
They carry it with them every step that they take
‘Til some day they just cut it loose
Cut it loose or let it drag ’em down
Where no one asks any questions
Or looks too long in your face”
(Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town)
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