A few nights ago I enjoyed a relaxed dinner in my home town with a former client and friend.
He called me out of the blue, travelled a distance to attend and offered no agenda – but my sixth sense told me that there would be a reason for this conversation.
Over dinner he described his last three years and revealed that he has “been through the wars” (as my Mum used to say).
His recent life resembled a season of Ray Donovan.
If you don’t watch the show (and you should) – he has had to survive multiple and simultaneous problems – financial, relationship, professional, physical, spiritual and emotional, although without resorting to the immorality of the aforementioned pugilistic Irish-American.
My friend has survived the bouquet of consequences cultivated by a series of bad decisions.
I meet a lot of people who are in seemingly inescapable predicaments – perhaps I attract them?
Do you attract people who shoulder enormous burdens and want your advice and encouragement? People who sometimes just want your permission to make tough decisions and to hear some appreciation for what they have lived through?
Those of us who are blessed (?) this way often attract people who hope that we know what they should do next in their darkness, because at some former point we have been authentic and transparent about our own mistakes, wounds, survival and resulting wisdom.
Over the years I have been designated by a few nicknames, the earliest of which was Sparrow (school), later Breaker, Breaker (CB radio – get it?) and the most common of which is Mr. Marmite (who you love or hate) but also Mr. Weeble (who wobbles but never falls down).
One discovery I have made as my years aggregate is that the wobbling never ends.
I have, however, come to the conclusion that most of us have the capacity to survive a wobble if we believe in the principle that, with the exception of health, nothing ever is either irreplaceable or final.
If you lose all of your money, friends, job, faith or enthusiasm – they can eventually grow back like flowers in the desert after a long-awaited rainfall.
There is nothing to be afraid of in loss.
However, those I meet who are struggling do so in order to avoid the loss of something other than health.
“I have to keep going because I don’t want to lose the………”
And in so doing, lose their health.
In the race to keep up appearances, they flagellate themselves every single day with tolerations.
They live a life that they don’t love, they show up when they don’t want to and they are surrounded by people that they don’t want to be with.
The very opposite of the True Success defined by Tom Morris in his book of the same name.
The hero is the one who cries “HALT!” to all of this and is prepared to lose everything for the sake of the one thing that matters other than your physical health….
Peace of Mind.
I look back over my life and recall fondly some of the moments when I have experienced true peace of mind:
walking alone every day on the beach of a deserted island in the Gulf of Panama
walking alone for days in the Nepalese Himalayas
walking alone in the Rockies
riding the Slickrock trail alone and camping by the Colorado river
canoeing alone every afternoon on Lake Como in Northern Italy
running, endlessly running
Notice a trend?
There are others that don’t necessary require reclusiveness:
engrossed in a magnificent novel whilst on an extended holiday
absorbed in writing (preferably in a busy coffee bar)
in the zone during a speaking gig, a spinning class, a client meeting
walking the dogs with Annie
Make your own list and see what it says about you.
The acquisition of financial largesse, popularity and power seldom seem to be synonymous with the peace of mind of which I speak.
My dinner companion lost everything and found happiness.
I have had to lose a lot to be happy.
Both of us agreed that it was well worth it.