Today is the first Friday in December. Which means that this week’s blog was due to be a monthly market update. But there’s already been ten of those this year, so it can wait.
A week ago I celebrated my forty-first birthday. And what a celebration it was.
It wasn’t just me either. My wife too. And both of our kids.
So instead of being spoiled, I spent my birthday in bed with a temperature and a cough, watching Season 11 of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Thankfully, due to the wonders of modern science, my illness was both short-lived and pretty mild. Unlike my dissatisfaction at the prospect of being locked in the house for ten days.
And then on Saturday morning, just as I was beginning to feel better, I found myself refereeing a disagreement between my children. About blanket coverage during their TV time.
I’m not talking about the proliferation of awful kids programming either. No, the argument centred around an actual blanket.
During the heated exchange, one of them turned to me and said the following:
“It’s not fair, she has more than me”
At this point I would like to say that I’m no philosopher. Especially not pre-caffeine. Especially not mid-Covid. And especially considering this wasn’t the first argument I had attempted to de-escalate that day.
However even against this backdrop, what I said next was quite inspired, even if I do say so myself.
“It’s not about more, it’s about enough”
Which was not just Socrates worthy, but also timely.
In the USA, the fourth Thursday of November is Thanksgiving. A day when people spend time with their families and reflect on how grateful they are. At least that’s the idea.
The next day. Well that’s Black Friday. A day when people spend time away from their families, buying lots of stuff that they probably don’t need.
In 2020, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Americans spent roughly $18,000,000,000. Which definitely has nothing to do with ‘enough’, and a lot to do with ‘more’.
Sadly though, it’s not just in America. The stark income inequality across the globe and the climate crisis both have their roots in this insatiable desire for more.
Although, it’s also not entirely our fault. Humans have been on the planet for around 200,000 years. For about one hundred and ninety nine thousand, seven hundred of those, we needed our brains to think more, more, more, in order for us to survive.
When we were all foraging the land for food, thinking you had enough probably meant that some of your tribe died of hunger.
But if you’re reading this (or if you wrote it), the chances are that Jeff has organised it so that anything you desire is available at the click of a button. It’s called western privilege.
Unfortunately our brains have been slow to adapt to this abundance, so a lot of the time we still behave like there’s scarcity, even when there’s not. Unless of course we’re talking about London houses in 2021, in which case there is.
However, this week’s blog really wasn’t meant to be about how we’re killing the planet or increasing the wealth divide. Because there’s enough people signalling their virtue already, especially on social media, and especially in the corporate world.
But it is a week where I’ve felt especially grateful.
For vaccines and testing capabilities. For Zoom, Teams and Google Meet. For the friends and family who have delivered food in extraordinary quantities. For clients who understood that I was quarantining at home, and that I had a lot on my plate (both figuratively and literally).
So what started off as a pretty black Friday, actually turned into Thanksgiving, just without the Turkey. But there will be plenty of that come the 25th.
In the meantime, despite all the talk of less, there’s one more thing that I’d like from Santa this year. An exchange of contracts on Christmas Eve.
Without wishing to sound too entitled, I’ve been a very good boy, and I deserve it.
In April 2013, news broke that luxury residential developer Finchatton had agreed a deal to develop 20 Grosvenor Square.
18 months later, Lodha announced that they’d purchased 1 Grosvenor Square from the Canadian Government, also with a view of creating a scheme of luxury homes.
I vividly remember sitting in my then office, telling my colleagues that by the time they were finished, we’d probably be talking about figures of £10,000 per square foot. Needless to say, my predictions were met with resounding laughter.
I wasn’t quite right, but I wasn’t entirely wrong either. Last week, an apartment at the Raffles branded Old War Office was sold for a figure which equated to £11,000 per square foot, a record price for a London home.
Things I’ve been inspired by this week
James Clear is the award winning author of Atomic Habits, which has sold 5 million copies worldwide. He started by writing a weekly newsletter, which you can still subscribe to.
Each issue contains three short ideas from James, two quotes from other people, and one question for you.
You can sign up here. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s edition.
When considering a new project or opportunity, one of the first questions to ask is, “How do I want to spend my days?” Make as few choices as possible that violate your answer. Many opportunities seem exciting but actually give you less of the life you want.”