And I say to my heart: rave on.

If there is one thing that’s been consistent in my life so far, it’s my choosing a journey over a destination. Those journeys have included many different experiences, all of which have shaped me in some way. One of those experiences was the second summer of love.

As a 15 year old, the 1990’s were fast approaching, technology and fashion was rapidly changing and I was having to move from being a kid to being an adult. The year was 1989 and in June I turned 16, completing my exams at school. I had to get a job to help cover all the bills at home and was lucky enough to join an apprenticeship scheme with an engineering company.

As a 16 year old I tested boundaries with my new employer, bunking off quite a bit. I wanted to hang out with new friends from my class (who were bunking off too). That period timed well with something that was happening across the country, something that was coined the second summer of love.

It was the period when acid house was becoming a thing, at least where I lived. Massive home grown acid house parties began to take shape each weekend. The smiley face revolution had entered my life, represented by that now familiar yellow smiley.

What struck me most about house music were the types of people I met. They were different to me, looser and more rebellious. Those new college friends  I’d made were different to my main friends. They took part and organised local house parties, ram raiding shops to pay for their life style of drugs (mainly speed and acid) for parties over the weekends. Despite me not joining them on their crime sprees or drug taking, they embraced my company and introduced me to a scene I’d have otherwise only seen on the TV and newspapers.

My mum, brother and close friends didn’t know the crowd I’d started to hang with. I carefully separated my 2 lives knowing they were not destined to merge well. It was obvious to me that this phase in my life would also not last long. I eventually finished college, went back to my indie music roots and then went to America for a while.

When I look back on that year, I can see it was important for at least 3 foundational lessons I’ve put into practice. Each one has become almost unconscious now, here they are:

1. Don’t always surround yourself with people who think like you. In order to grow, learn and experience the world, you need different views to enhance your life

2. You can never really understand and know a person until you really know them (i.e. it doesn’t matter how they look). There are still people I meet who think I’m a ’type’ and after learning more about me, find it hard to believe I’d taken part in illegal raves and been on police watch lists for summer parties at Stone Henge . Don’t believe in bucketing people into types, it will limit your world view as well as your experience with people.

3. Clothes, musical taste, recreational activities, none of these actually define a person. How they treat themselves and others, what they think of themselves and others, those are the things that define a person.

I don’t know what happened to those college friends from that time. Over that short period the house parties turned to raves and eventually the UK government put legislation in place to limit free and open gatherings. I didn’t like the commercial parties, where business took over and the mainstream turned it into profit over experience.

It’s nice to see the ‘illegal’ raves never actually stopped entirely, they just became harder to organise and find. They continue to this day, in smaller numbers and via word of mouth. Just like when I was a teenager. A time that was simpler, one without the internet or always connected lifestyle. A time when word of mouth brought people together more, a time when we actually had time, time to think, time to ponder, time to party.

Make time to party.

“It is always the simple that produces the marvellous.” – Amelia Barr

Note: Some of my college friends were ram raiders, the majority of people I met at house parties and then raves did not ram raid or steal.


Stop thinking, and end your problems

I was in Sweden for a work retreat last week. It was at a hotel complex on the coast. The beach (a short walk from the hotel) was calm, snowy and a great place to visit to gather my thoughts over what became full and hectic days.

It was a difficult week in some regards, I prefer to be alone or in the company of 1 or 2 others, not such large groups. John Cleese once said (after reading Susan Cains Quiet) “I’m on the introverted side, but I can function perfectly well in an extroverted way. But at the end of the day when I’ve been extroverted a lot, I need some quiet time on my own…”

I feel similar. Put me in a group of 20 people and I’ll seem right at home. So much so, that people I’ve got to know appear surprised when they discover I prefer quiet time. The thing is, I can function perfectly well in an extroverted way, it just takes a lot of energy.

It wasn’t until a few years ago I realised that my tiredness comes from this. I used to ask myself if there was something wrong with me. Why am I so tired most of the time? Do I have an illness? Why doesn’t anyone else feel like this?

It turns out other people do feel the same, it’s just not widely spoken about.

So, while standing on that snowy beach in Sweden, looking out to sea, I was reminded how much I benefit from quiet time. I used to live by a beach, back when I was 10 years old. My brother and I would spend hours playing in the rock pools ands collecting pebbles. I remember staring out to sea back then and wondering what sort of life was ahead of me. It’s no different now, over 30 years later and I’m wondering what’s ahead of me still, only this time I know I’m in the drivers seat.

So I make sure I have quiet time when I can. I go for walks alone at lunchtime rather than socialise in the canteen. I take an hour or two out of the day to work in a meeting room or a space without others. Most sacred to me is my time without my phone, music or anything else. This is usually on my way home, commuting on the train. While everyone else is watching or listening to media of some kind, I allow my mind the freedom to spin on it’s own, it’s my not-thinking time.

Not-thinking time is amazing and I’d recommend trying it if you don’t already. For thousands of years humans had not-thinking time weaved into their days naturally. In the last 100 years it’s been stolen from us and we are only just recognising that increased anxiety and depression are linked to being ‘always on.’

“I’m tired of being inside my head. I want to live out here, with you.” – Colleen McCarty

So why not try some not-thinking time. If you’d like some tips on how to get not thinking time into your life Psychology today has a good write up.



Keeping your eye on the prize..

A while ago, I had a manager who appeared very successful. He was financially secure, had strong friendships (including celebrities from TV and football) and a job he clearly thrived in.

During the early days of working with him I became a father for the first time, and on my return to work we went for a walk. I asked him how he succeeded at so much while being a father and husband. His response has helped guide me ever since.

We stopped in the street, he turned to look at me and said “I’m divorced, you can’t have it all, I don’t have it all. I’m not a good example of how it’s done”.
There’s a scene in The Netflix series ‘The Punisher’ where Frank, the main character, regrets not reading a bedtime story to his daughter one evening. He tells her he’ll make it up to her next time. There wasn’t a next time and Frank became the Punisher, avenging her death. It’s an extreme reminder that you never really know what tomorrow may bring.

What’s the most important part of your life? Do you nurture it?

For many parents it’s their children, for others it’s family and friends. I won the lottery with my wife and kiddos, they’re my most important part of life.

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

Benjamin Franklin

“You can’t have it all..” isn’t a common message to hear throughout western society, we’re practically encouraged to have it ‘all’. A career, a strong family unit, money, and material things.

PepsiCo’s CEO (until late last year) famously said that women can’t have it all, the reality (more accurately) is that no one can have it all. When she stepped down last year, she wrote a goodbye note, in it was regret about not enough family time..

Do you have a regret you could turn around right now before it’s too late?

My first son in the early days

After that walk with my manager I went home. That night I remember looking at my baby son and wondering what his future would be like. As I looked at him asleep, I thought about how much time we’d have together, how much is enough? How could I be the best father I could be? How can I give him the best foundation a life can have?

Read The Tail End blog post by Tim Urban, it may surprise you.

The author of Raising boysSteve Biddulph is quoted as saying if you work more than 50 hours a week consistently, you won’t cut it as a dad. Not a popular opinion, though I think there is some truth to it, and not just on the father side, it’s a parent thing, whatever gender you are.

So, that evening I decided to leave my job. I knew that to progress in work, satisfy the needs of the business and be the parent I aspired to be, my current job and personal life were not aligned.

It took me 9 months to find the right role elsewhere. In that role I used essentialism as my guide, buying each member of my team a copy of the book so they could understand and work in similar ways, if they wanted. I put work life separation into place aggressively, working in ways that meant when I was home, my job did not interfere at any point.

What I realised while working like this, was that I also needed to put more personal wants on hold too. I’m not going to write the book I want to write while my children are still under 5/7 years of age, I’m not able to have routines like daily yoga and meditation at home every morning either.

What? I hear you say, of course you can have children and do those things!

My wife and I chose attachment parenting, using continuum concepts to guide us. This meant we had to give up many of our own wants for a number of years as “You can’t have it all”.

Not everyone will agree, nor did everyone we know agree with this style of parenting. But that’s fine, we’re doing it anyway. It’s tiring (when you co-sleep, a fully restful night is a distant dream). Yet the short term trade offs (like morning yoga and writing my book) are remarkably impactful and we’re already seeing it in our children every day.

I recently read this touching piece about a father who succeeded at being a father. It gave me added confidence that my decision to separate and not balance work and long term aspirations, are right for me and my family right now. As my children become older I’ll have more time for me (as they become more independent) and that’s a conscious choice. I don’t want the regret of relying on nature more than nurture.

As of now I’m working at Unity where family values are strong. I’m living in Denmark, where business puts family values at the top and employees leave earlier in the day to have family time together. I’ve designed my life around what’s most important to me. Have you? If you haven’t, I hope this post inspires you to make the change, so you don’t have regrets.

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The secret to getting ahead is getting started

Regular readers will have noticed an absence of posts here in the last few weeks. I took a long Christmas break to spend time away from work, my writing and anything else that didn’t include my wife and kids.

Now I’m back and thinking about the year ahead of me.

How do you set up your year ahead? I take time in early January for 2 activities. Both are key in helping me make the right choices and grow in areas I either need to grow or hadn’t considered before.

Number 1. Making choices easier

Claire Diaz Ortiz introduced me to the concept of having a word of the year in a blog post she wrote a few years back, I’ve had one ever since. My word of the year for 2018 was ‘change’. The idea of a word for the year is to have a word that represents the year in front of you. Last year I moved myself and my family to Denmark, went car free (using public transport and bicycle only), and introduced daily fasting into my eating routine. It’s fair to say that when choices arrived, my word of the year guided me significantly.

My word for the year 2019 is ‘Possible’. I want the year ahead to be one where things I think may not be possible are possible. It’s a positive word that sets a frame of mind, one focused on making things happen and getting things done. If you’ve not experimented with a word to represent your year ahead, why not try now? There’s no better time than early January, when our minds are focused on starting afresh. If you’re new to this you could use this site for inspiration:

Number 2. Choose influencers

Another activity I do in early January is choose 5 people to influence and change my thinking. What’s slightly unusual here is I choose 5 people I don’t have in person access too. The famous quote ‘You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with’ attributed to Jim Rohn is the inspiration for this. I started doing it a few years ago after finding I was unconsciously making huge positive changes to my life, based on regularly listening to content from Tim Ferriss.

This year I’ve chosen:

  1. Tim Ferriss – Tim features in my influencer list every year. The Tim Ferriss show, his books, blog posts and tweets are life changing.
  2. Will Smith – Pretty much my reason to have an Instagram account. I’ve followed him on and off over the years, as the way he lives his life is incredibly inclusive and positive, this year I’m following him more closely.
  3. Satya Nadella – Quite possibly the best CEO in history, Satya changed Microsoft’s culture for the better while I worked there, and through his actions and writing, he continues to inspire my thinking around how I work and the impact I can have.
  4. Jason Fried – One of the founders of Basecamp. Ever since hearing his conversation with Tim Ferriss I’ve been studying how Basecamp does business with its customers as well as its employees. He’s written some fantastic books, blog posts and been in some incredible interviews. I’m looking forward to changing how I view business and work through learning from Jason this year.
  5. Adam Buxton – Ever since watching the Adam and Joe show I’ve been enjoying Adam’s particular style of humour and wit. A few years back he started a podcast where he has conversations with people like Louis Theroux, Simon Pegg and Charlie Brooker (creator of Black Mirror). The Adam Buxton podcast is funny, interesting and brings joy to anyone who listens.

If you want to take control and steer your year in the direction you want, try these 2 activities and feel the positive change happen around you. It works for me, I hope it works for you also.