I love the summer, oddly when I look back it’s the season in which I find many of my fondest childhood and even adult memories belong. There is something about the sun, the light that draws out our emotions, it makes us happy, inspires us to dance, to smile, to love, to be passionate and to live life to the fullest.
And so, with this in mind, the overall mindset of the masses is positive, and despite the recent adversities and restrictions we have faced, the summer is upon us yet again and is helping many get through what has been a very tough year.
As we emerge out of this terrible segment of time, and as the dust settles and the sun burns through the morning clouds revealing blue skies, we must take it as a sign of hope. Just as reliable as the sun is dependent on where you are in the world, it brings us the seasons, the difference of day and night, it’s a constant in our lives.
I’m a bit of a grouch, sometimes, and it’s the summertime that really reminds me of the old adage ‘life is like a glass of water, you see it half empty or half full’; the sun only extenuates that both figuratively and factually. You can complain of the heat and sun, or you can jump in the sea and swim in carefreeness, it’s a matter of thinking and applying one thinking to yield outcome.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively, and to many of the areas of the world which we deem to be the happiest, the healthiest, where people live to ripe old ages, and in many of them I saw so many commonalities.
From Italy to Brazil, Greece to parts of Asia, it seems to our very British thinking that there are belts of areas across the world that seem to live healthier and happier lives. Some assume it’s the weather, some the water, some the food, and while perhaps it’s a combination of all of those, what’s true is that many cultures promote ‘the good life’, la buena vida’ in Spanish, ‘la dolce vita’ in Italian and so on.
Perhaps inspired at the source initially by the sun, these countries, towns and villages hold tradition close, and they don’t let go of what truly matters, such as family, food, festivities and being at one with the surrounding beauty. We can learn so much from this, however, and while we in the most part, aside from a few heatwaves in the summer, live in grey cloud covered rainy concrete cities, we can be inspired to connect with nature and our surrounding. It’s not just the sun that yields light, it’s soul cleansing to relate to the seasons and to truly experience them, or if you don’t like the clouds move away.
‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ is such a true statement, while there is nothing more indulging than bathing in the sun with a cooling cocktail, equally if you connect with the idea, there’s nothing more invigorating that standing a storm and feeling Mother Nature cry down. There’s something about giving in to something that is more powerful than you, letting the wind touch your face, standing there until you’re soaking wet and in the bitter cold, it can take your breath away and give you the opportunity to go home, strip off in front of a log fire and have a warm cup of hot chocolate.
What the summer truly reminds me of, retrospectively, is that we live in a world of ying and yang, hot and cold, rich and poor, happy and sad, that we can feel hate or love, fear or strength. There is power in knowing in our greatest moments, that we have also had times of weakness and vice versa. This is a mindset tool taught in stoic teaching, to know oneself and to find a balanced position, it’s knowing that because we will die one day, we should truly live in this moment now, right now.
Sometimes life will also have its way of humbling us. Last week I sat in Victoria station, annoyed that my phone battery had died, sitting with a charger plugged into the wall, that seemed to take forever to charge. I sat there annoyed, sweating, complaining to myself in my head that I needed my phone to charge so I could head to a restaurant for food, and I was gasping for a drink. There in that moment, having a first world problem, a homeless person came towards the bench I was sat on, opting to approach the other two people charging their phone, and he whispered something to them that I couldn’t hear. They shook their heads strongly with looks of disgust and so he struggled off, with a limp, looking somewhat physically impaired. He then went over to the Starbucks, looking round the empty tables picking up the finished drinks desperately trying to get a sip of something to hydrate and replenish him in the sauna-like day. One by one he drank the remnants of beverages to quench his thirst.
I was overcome with a sense of guilt, not that I had been asked directly by him for anything but that another human being, regardless of his situation and his own decisions should be lowered to this. I felt shame that I didn’t ask him there and then what he wanted, but as I stood up leaving my phone and charger on the bench, he walked off not allowing me the time to walk over to buy him a drink.
This moment played on my mind for an hour, perhaps two; how I could complain about one thing and in reality, have no overall comprehension of the sense of luckiness and abundance I had by comparison, and yet I thought onward even to comprehend that perhaps he thought he was lucky that he could find drink, in a world of third world countries where that would be a dream, where water wasn’t running freely. Sometimes we need to get a reality check to truly appreciate things and be moved to help.
In summary I guess my article this month, while celebrating the summer and promoting that we should live in the moment, wants to note that it’s important to know how fortunate we are and how we should never forget that. Live, love, give and feel in the moment, for when we look back, so much of what we worried about won’t have mattered. Drawing the business message out of this, as after all that’s what I’m here to do and I tend to digress, it’s this: we should celebrate our wins in business, learn from our failures and do the tough work first and enjoy the art, success will come naturally, as naturally as the sun goes down.