It’s been a slightly odd week. One which included a lot of reminiscing about years gone by. Mostly about my life between the ages of seven and twenty one.
The last time that I spent four consecutive days with my oldest friend, former University flatmate, best man at my wedding and my now lawyer, was probably two decades ago.
This week, events conspired to bring us together again. And amongst all that reminiscing, I received a couple of backhanded compliments.
Not from him of course. I’m not sure that’s what people who have known each other for nearly thirty five years do.
The first one took me a little by surprise.
“I’ve been really enjoying reading your blogs, who do you get to write them?”
And then, two days later, the same question, albeit from a different person, phrased slightly differently.
The answer of course is me. I get me to write them. Although, convincing me to plan ahead is rather more difficult. Instead, I usually wait until a Thursday night.
Which actually, isn’t like me at all.
I have tried to be more organised with my writing. But the truth is that most of what makes its way from my head to the page is inspired by what I’ve been paying attention to in the previous seven days.
Back in 2016 I was introduced to Steven Covey’s book,The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s a bestseller. 25 million copies sold and translated into 40 different languages.
Habit 2 is "Begin with the end in mind"
To demonstrate his overarching principle, Covey asks that you imagine your own funeral. Which I realise is a little morbid, but stick with me.
Specifically, he asks you to think about what you would want the people chosen to speak about your life to say.
It’s a strong reality check.
“If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success”
Which actually, raises more questions than it provides answers. Because success means so many different things to different people.
For example, I once got to spend some time with a man who was well into his ninth decade, and still continuing to pursue his meaning of success.Or to use a better term, his purpose.
He was a thirteen year old evacuee from Nazi Germany, whose parents were never able to join him and his sister in the UK.
Yet despite the horrors that he had witnessed, he spent his life educating others about the dangers of straying too far from the principles of tolerance, understanding and love.
In fact, he was so driven by his purpose that his last educational talk, to a group of schoolchildren, was given the day before his death.
“Mark Twain once said, the two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why. We found that purpose is the single most important element that releases energy”
I think that what Jim is saying is something that everyone can relate to. Most people know what it’s like to be really motivated by something they’re passionate about.
The sense of purpose that drove Eliud Kipchoge to train relentlessly in order to run a sub two hour marathon is really not that different from what motivates someone to run 26.2 miles for the first time.
Often it’s raising money for a good cause, but it doesn't really matter, as long as it gets you out of bed on a cold, dark, wet Monday morning.
And although the standout examples of this are of course in the fields of philanthropy and sporting achievement, it’s in no way limited to that.
Everyone needs a sense of purpose, and whatever it is, whatever is motivating you, is not the important part. Because if it’s strong enough, other things like drive, determination, passion and focus will emanate from it.
And because there’s so many people more qualified than me on this subject, I’m going to give the last word to Naval.
“In any situation in life, you always have three choices: you can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it. If you want to change it, then it is a desire. It will cause you suffering until you successfully change it. So don’t pick too many of those. Pick one big desire in your life at any given time to give yourself purpose and motivation”
Actually, maybe not the very last word. Because if marriage has taught me anything, it’s that having the last word is something to be fought for. And in the absence of a ghost writer, I guess that today it can belong to me.
In years gone by, the words drive and determination conjured up ideas of the stereotype alpha, screaming and shouting their way to the top.
However the individuals who really transcended what anyone thought possible were people like Mahatma, Martin and Nelson. Who had millions of followers before social media was even a thing.
Who went about their work peacefully, diligently, but with purpose, and always with the end in mind.
Back in January this year I wrote about the continuing evolution of London real estate, specifically in relation to the Bayswater area, which to my mind is still one of the most undervalued neighbourhoods in London.
Not for much longer though. Finchatton have released some images of what we can expect from its redevelopment of Whiteleys, and it’s spectacular.
The 1.1 million square foot scheme will deliver 139 luxury apartments alongside London’s first Six Senses hotel, retail and restaurant spaces, a gym and a cinema.