Are you doing what you really want with your life?
The background to this edition of Inspire – Many of you will know that in March I was heading off to New Zealand for an extended holiday, as well as launching my book there. Some of you who have worked with me recently will also know that my father has been ill. Twelve hours after arriving in NZ I heard that my father had died and I headed back to the UK the following day.
There have been many thoughts that have occurred to me since then that might find their way into Inspire in the months to come. What I wanted to focus on here is about asking whether you are living the life you want to live and what legacy do you want to leave behind you?
What impact do we have on others? – My father was a well known figure in the hospitality industry having been one of the first hotel consultants in the UK. He wrote many books on marketing hotels; had been a visiting professor at two universities and received an OBE for his services to the hospitality industry. But it turns out that was not what he is really remembered for. In all the letters and emails that my family received about him from family, friends, neighbours and business associates, it was his ability to connect with people that made an impact on others. Many people in his industry wrote to say that he had been a mentor and inspiration to them and that their careers were down to the influence that he had on them early on. My parents have lived in the same house for 43 years and three sons of a neighbour wrote in a card about the positive impact he had had when they were growing up in the street.
When his rabbi asked us what the driving force was for my dad, my mum, brother and I simultaneously said ‘people'. He could not go into a restaurant or hospital without finding out about the waiter, the nurse and where they were from and how they came to be doing what they were doing.
This is what he will be remembered for and it got me thinking about all of our lives. Do we get so caught up in the doing, the tasks of life that we forget about the human to human interactions and how important they are? Think about yourself: are you taking the time to really connect with your colleagues, clients, family and friends – or even the next time you go into a shop? Do we get distracted by the task in hand and forget the people around us.
Are you doing what you want to do with your life? – Before I set off for NZ I visited my dad in hospital and he was talking about his life, and reminiscing about his travels through his work, the different projects he was involved in and the fun times we have had as a family – he concluded with ‘It's been a great life!'. That was despite having his first heart attack at 47 and many years of illness and challenges, including cancer. But he continued to enjoy life, travel for pleasure and enjoy many happy times with his family, despite the challenges he was facing.
None of us know when our life might be up – so it is worth reflecting now on the following questions:
- Is your life the life you dreamed it would be? If not what can you do about it? What is missing?
- What is stopping you from enjoying your day to day life?
- What is causing you grief? What do you need to change, or drop from your life to make it one that you fully enjoy?
- If you are facing huge challenges that can't be avoided (and there are many times when this happens in life) what can you do to make sure that you can thrive in this environment and not just survive?
- How can you enhance the relationships you have with others?
Don't let the inner critic undermine your satisfaction – I was so pleased that my dad made it to the UK launch of my book and read it. Unfortunately with not enough time to put it into practice in the weeks before he died he asked both my brother and I separately whether he had been a good dad. We were very fortunate as he was a great dad, supportive, fun and a mentor to both of us in our businesses. But it was that old inner critic that led him to doubt whether he had been ‘good enough'. We of course reassured him, and I hope that he was able to take it on board. But what about you?
Is your inner critic stopping you from seeing what you have achieved in your life, from seeing that you are ‘good enough' and that you ‘do enough'?
Remember to look at the ‘glass half full' rather than ‘half empty' – focus on what you have done, not what you have still want to achieve.
This is a quote that I read out at my dad's funeral…‘To die well, one must have lived well. For those who have lived true to their convictions, who have worked to bring happiness to others, death can come as a comforting rest, like the well-earned sleep that follows a day of enjoyable exertions.' Daisaku Ikeda from A Piece of Mirror
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