THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

September sweats

It’s Tuesday morning and the rain is lashing against the windows here in Cornwall. I’m due out for a training run as soon as I’ve written this post – and perversely looking forward to the cold wind and rain on my face. A wake up call you might say. What I’m about to say isn’t pretty – so my apologies. I woke at 03:00 this morning absolutely covered in a cold clammy sweat – sexy eh? Couldn’t get back to sleep for an hour – feel groggy this morning. Why? Well I suppose I will first refer you back to my September ezine and the two articles on “getting back in gear” after the summer break. The sleepless cold sweat syndrome has been my particular way (for years now) of articulating that heavy realisation that I have to crank up the engine AGAIN and spur my business on into the last (critical) 4 months of the calendar year. Normally, the backdrop is an enjoyable August somewhere sunny. This year, of course, the shadow of Kilimanjaro looms (in a very positive way) as well as a hugely enjoyable few days in Mwanza, Tanzania with the B2A and Hope Dental Centre team. In the same way as when I returned from Everest Base Camp in the Spring of 1998 – getting back “into it” is very tough. Domestic bills, work issues, finances, marketing, customer service, business systems, strategy, tactics, relationships, deadlines – can’t I just go back and live that simple African life – wake, eat, crap, wash, walk, rest, eat, walk, wash, eat, sleep? Add to that our house move this week – a complete upheaval of our domestic situation – and you can perhaps understand why my inner self is asking WTF? Many people have asked why we are deserting the lovely lifestyle here in Falmouth to re-enter English materialistic suburbia in Hale, Cheshire. The answer is actually very simple. I came to Cornwall 7 years ago to be with the woman I love. I’m going back to Manchester tomorrow for exactly the same reason – oh – and for the same woman! The job is just getting bigger and bigger (and I do enjoy it – even though this week a lottery win would seem welcome) and there have been times this year when I have been away from home up to 20 nights a month. Back at Easter, Annie and I spent days in sunny Turkey discussing our future and came to the mutual conclusion that a move away from Cornwall would give us more time together. My time with Annie is the best time I have – she loves me, tolerates me, makes me laugh, drives me mad and supports me unconditionally in everything I do. I’m not getting any younger (58 on Friday) and I’d like to spend more time with her – simples. After deciding on the move it was then time to start putting pins in the map of places we would like to live: • Edinburgh – love the place but on the end of another spoke – not a hub • London – love Marylebone but just too expensive • Bath, Harrogate, Cheltenham – love Regency architecture but spokes and not hubs So we eventually landed back in my original home town and I have rented (initially) a place very close to where I raised my young family in the 80s/90s and 10 minutes from Manchester Airport, 20 minutes from Piccadilly Station and 10 minutes from the motorway system. The second huge advantage is that I will be able to see much more of my 5 kids – 4 at University but travelling back to Manchester regularly and my youngest daughter living with her Mum just a few miles away. Do I REALLY want to live back up North? No. I want to make enough money in the next 7 years to move back down to Falmouth for the latter years of my life – I adore the place. Having the return to Cornwall in my mind will be a massive motivator over the years ahead. But sometimes we have to focus on what matters most and my relationship with Annie is my number one focus in life. I cannot and will not “put that off” until another day. I had a great working breakfast with Mark Topley, CEO of Bridge2Aid on the shores of Lake Victoria last Friday morning – we talked about “what matters most” – and both concluded that family comes first, health second and career/profession/vocation third. Without the first two, the third is pointless. As far as the business is concerned – I do genuinely think that living up North will allow me to connect with my clients and working partners more deeply and regularly – and that will change the direction of my business activity in a very positive way. I’m surrounded by packing cases here in my Cornwall home office this morning – there is a trailer outside loaded high with stuff we have thrown out – and the hallway is crammed with old memorabilia that is going to the dump today. Moving house is a great way to de-clutter. Phillippa arrives here at 10:00 so that we can hold our monthly management meeting amongst the detritus of my life. I’m hoping by the end of that meeting to be better connected to my professional life and to have a clear view of where we are heading between now and the end of the year. For now – stress and sweats. I’m human. Now – lets get out into that rain.

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