17 August 2014

I’ve always been interested in how people’s priorities change as they move from one stage of life to another. How many of us can look back to our younger years and say that the way we see the world is largely unchanged? Whilst you might have the same energy as you did in your childhood, you probably give weight to things now that you shrugged off as a child or teenager. It’s almost like we see life through a camera lens that’s always readjusting and refocussing to adapt to its surroundings.

It’s funny how life keeps you levelled, isn’t it? You just never know what’s over the next hill. One minute you can be celebrating and the next you’re being brought back down to earth with a bang. It might sound a bit backwards, but knowing that nothing lasts forever is a good thing as it makes you realise the importance of time.

One of the most motivational speakers of all time is arguably Earl Nightingale, who survived the attack on Pearl Harbour. It was Nightingale who said, “Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savoured.”

Nightingale, like many people who have experienced near-death situations, was acutely aware of every second ticking by like sand rushing through your fingers. Personally, it’s the reason I try and cram as many experiences into life as is humanly possible. Knowing that we’re not invincible and that everything, be it happiness or sadness, will pass, gives me the energy I need to learn and experience more each day. This isn’t to say I don’t relax, as resting and unwinding is all part of it – life is there to be enjoyed.

My granddad once said to me, “Live every day as if it were your last; one day you’ll be right.”

It’s a great piece of advice and I wish I’d taken it on board sooner. Life is a journey. How far you get in it depends on the effort you put in, so it stands to reason that if you try hard you will go far.

The second part of that, of course, is being open to learning from others. Whether you’re trying to be a great parent or a great businessperson, if you seek out what you think is best practice and emulate the traits you admire then invariably you will improve. This is why people in all walks of life look to athletes and apply their habits and practices to their own lives. Gail and I once learnt a technique from Tony Robbins that he gave to Andre Agassi to help him focus. It’s all about the belief and certainty that you will achieve the goals you create.

Think of Muhammad Ali’s comment, “I said I was the greatest long before I knew I was”. He was putting pressure on himself by setting that bar, telling people he was going to win. The only way you could have beaten him would have been to out believe him! That same direction and belief is essential whether you’re a parent, an athlete or a businessperson. It’s essential if you want to get anywhere in life and make the absolute most out of your time. But real success is never about you. You, me and everyone else in this world are very small stars in a gigantic universe. It’s only when you step back and take in the whole sky at night that you get the full picture.

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