For the past 32 years I have suffered the highs (infrequent) and lows (frequent) of following Tottenham Hotspur, and every other summer, England.
There’s nothing quite like an international football tournament, especially the first week, when there’s multiple daily games. Although, it’s easier to enjoy that kind of thing when you’re young, and have less responsibility.
Years ago a friend of mine booked two weeks of annual leave, simply to sit at home and watch the World Cup. His girlfriend wasted no time in ending their relationship. Sensibly, he waited for the fortnight to pass before asking her to reconsider. Flowers were purchased and promises made. He’s now happily married. To someone else.
This summer, a fledgling business and two young kids quickly put an end to my dreams of watching every televised game.
Saturday 12th June, 2021
Being at home for the past 18 months has changed my patterns of work for the better.
Instead of the 9-6, I now work around family time. During the week I make my kids breakfast, and on most days we have dinner together as a family. Late nights in front of the computer have become normal. I’m ok with it, it’s a trade I’m more than happy to make.
I also try to leave weekends free for family time and to watch the occasional game of football. So on Saturday 12th June, I sat down to watch Denmark take on Finland.
After 43 minutes of a fairly dull game, the unthinkable happened. Christian Eriksen, who spent seven years as a Tottenham player, suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed to the ground. Watching it live, on national television was a truly harrowing experience.
Friday 9th December, 2016
Watching Eriksen lying motionless on the floor, having his heart re-started with a defibrillator brought back some painful memories.
Some four and a half years earlier, I’d watched the same thing happen to my Dad. If you think Eriksen was fortunate to be on a football pitch, my father was even luckier. He was at Barts hospital in London, one of the world’s leading cardiology centres.
Like Christian Eriksen, his survival was based on both luck, and the amazing reactions of the medical professionals entrusted with his care. He’s now fitted with a device to prevent the same thing happening again.
I have re-run that day a million times in my head. Without telling the whole story, a series of coincidences saved his life. It could very easily have been so different.
Whether you call it luck, timing, serendipity or good fortune, we all need it. I look back on events that happened in my life, and think that if I was one step to the left or one step to the right, things would have turned out differently.
I arrived in Thailand a day after the 2004 Tsunami, because my flight was delayed by 24 hours. My parents flew home from New York on September 10th, 2001.
I met my wife by complete coincidence, having popped into a mutual friend's house one Sunday evening. I took her bowling for our first date. I nervously stepped up to take my first turn, and hit a strike. I’m the most uncoordinated person you know.
Whilst it’s not a matter of life or death, we need luck in estate agency too. We can help ourselves by focusing on producing great marketing material, ensuring we’re properly leveraging networks of people and really thinking about how best to target our digital marketing effectively.
Yet we can do all of that, and still need luck. Photographs are better with sunshine. Buyers need to be in the market for a home at exactly the same time that you’re marketing your latest listing. I could go on.
I think I’ve been luckier than most, especially since starting my business. I’ve been able to work with some really lovely clients, and share in part of their journey through life, if only for a short period of time.
Somehow though, it’s unfashionable to talk about good fortune. It seems that everywhere you look, entrepreneurship is both glamorised and sanitised to the point where all you hear is linear stories about how people went from zero to hero.
There appears to be a fear that if you talk about working hard and getting lucky, then people will only focus on the latter. Nowhere is this worse than social media, which is awash with the version of people’s lives they want you to see.
It’s getting to the point where I think we’re in danger of creating a dichotomy around mental health. On one hand we’re being encouraged to talk about it more, and on the other hand we’re being algorithmically encouraged to spend our time doing things which will ultimately detract from it.
I’m going to leave the last word on this to Ricky.
Things I’m grateful for this week
21 days after my Dad’s lucky break, my second daughter was born. Luckily for her, she now gets to introduce herself as Amelie, and not Stephen.