7 teachers... what about yours?

 This week has been one of reflection. I finally (after many years of searching) caught up with someone who had a huge influence over me in my late teens. Perhaps only now when the student is ready to learn have I been allowed to enter this persons life once more. The reason for the reflection is that my success has been met with great sadness too, as this wonderful lady passed away much too early in 2010. The family remains and it is with those that the memory will live on, more on this later...

What this week has done though is make me take a look back at some of the key people in my life who have had a major influence over how I think. Not that they themselves taught me the lessons necessarily with words, but only through understanding the interactions with these people have I gained a deeper insight into who I am, the direction in which I should travel, and what I call my purpose for having been born.

Of course as with most of us my early years were influenced by my parents. Not in a bad way, my childhood was filled with happy memories although I do feel I tested my parents more often they would have liked. But it was in my mid to late teens that a single exchange with my father had a very deep impact. I was being quizzed about why I had to keep going out, why couldn't I stay in... Why my behaviour was so different to theirs, why I was so off track from their view of how life ought to be... I remember pondering this exchange many times and thinking... I know they are only saying these things because it is what they know, and they are trying to protect me. But my thoughts always came back to the same conclusion... If I do what my parents did, I will be where they are later, and that is not what I saw for myself... 1st choice was not to do what they did, then I'd be guaranteed a different result. This also applies to our children and the young of today. Let us not judge their view of the world and how they behave through our experiences at their age... The world is a very different place today than 30 years ago.

The second great teacher I had was Patricia Duggan. I met Pat behind a bar at a local club when I was 16, basically I ran the Rolls Royce sports & social club in my school holidays before starting A levels. Pat was one of the lunchtime bar staff and in my temporary role as the Steward of the club I organised the staff working rota each week. A friendship developed, many nights of canasta ensued and I grew fond of the whole family. Pat was the most bubbly and lovely person I think I'd ever met. There was no judgement of anyone, just a willingness to listen and understand. A real desire to find out what was hurting, genuine support, and unconditional love. I knew this was special, the whole family was different to anything I'd witnessed before. But only now 30+ years later am I able to comprehend the magic Pat wielded so effortlessly every day. This is a tough ask, but today, I am reminded of the destination, I can at last see it, it is no longer hidden and I have Pat to thank for this.

The third teacher was my boss when I went to work in London at the age of 19. An Irish guy called Rod Nixon. His party piece was to play people in the pub at chess for pints. Only Rod would play blindfold. He would win until his mind gave out through drink but to be fair even then he would wipe the floor with me. The great lesson from Rod was that you need to check out every angle, look at things from every perspective, weigh up all the options, be prepared to think outside the box, and only then, make your decision and go for it.

My fourth teacher is a man I met for the first time when I was 16. +Morris Hogg he ran the software business where I met the programmer Rod. In later years he became my business partner in my software company and has only just retired although I keep him on his toes with all the developments in Link4Growth and of course modern technology. So what was the lesson this man taught me... The answer is many. I asked Morris a question when I was 21, Morris is it possible to be nice and become wealthy in business? To which he replied, yes, but it takes much longer... This has been a guide in many of my exploits since. He reminded me that when he goes to bed at night he sleeps soundly with no fear, many in business can't say that with conviction.

Although Morris is full of great advice it is not the things that he has said that have been the greatest learnings for me. Morris has throughout his life supported community. He has always been committed to his family. I know of no other person with greater integrity than Morris. If Morris commits to do something it will be done. In all the years I have known Morris he has failed to turn up to a meeting on just one occasion, and this was during a period of ill health when he was 76. If I can muster 1/2 the respect from others and achieve anywhere close to the integrity that Morris has I will deem my life to have been a success. There has been no better role model to strive to emulate and I am incredibly grateful to have been part of a 35 year friendship with this man.

My fifth teacher of only a couple of years but who has had a profound impact on my thinking is +Tania Clarke. Tania was introduced to me by another friend Jean Flower who suggested we should meet, which we did. I read a lot on the Internet, I'm like a sponge for knowledge and information, and consequently, in a discussion I'm not short in coming forward with MY ideas and suggestions of what I think is right. What Tania has provided is a tool set for a much deeper level of self mastery. Life is not a competition. Life should be a happy experience. Your view of the world is a view, not the only view, there are a million ways to see a single situation. You are not in control of other people. All we have control over is ourselves. Our frustration, disappointments and anger generally emerges when someone else does something different to what we expected, wanted or desired, in these situations we can feel let down. Once we learn that what others do is not up to us, all we can do is make our own choices and believe in what we're doing (with conviction, enthusiasm and passion) ... That is the route to happiness based on what we're doing not on what others may or may not do...

My sixth teacher is my mother, but again, not by what she has said, but by witnessing her story. Through the lessons from Tania and looking back at the stories from my mothers early years it is easy to see how peer pressure and social anxiety can play a massive impact in our lives. Last in a school playground line up where being good at sport was highly valued, killed self esteem and turned school life into a dreadful existence. Although PA to the chairman of NCR in her early 20's the desire was to escape from a bullying world. I obtained some great skills from my mums gene pool. I recognise just how important it is for us to conquer low self esteem, social anxiety and understand we are masters of our own destiny. We all have amazing talents and are able to make a huge contribution to our communities. Are we to let the opinions and views of others determine our outcomes, or are we going to strive for happiness with the application of our unique qualities. We have a choice, I have made mine... what about you?

And so armed with this toolset from Tania of acceptance of what is and being the pilot of ones own ship, comes the final teacher... and the final teacher (to date) is the people who make up +Link4Growth itself. Teacher(s) no. 7

I meet many people on my travels with Link4Growth, all of them different, with their own goals, aspirations and talents. Each of us is on our own personal journey, some quite a way down their path, others just beginning theirs. What I now understand much more clearly is that everyone is unique. We are each at this moment in time a culmination of all the interactions and  experiences we have had, and the decisions we have made. No one is right or wrong, we are at a point on our journey, and the way things are to us can only be based on where we are on that journey and what has gone before. How we see things is based on our belief about what we have been told whether it be friends, family, acquaintances, people at work, at the pub, spouses or via the newpapers, TV, the internet or education system. Our processing of that information creates our own unique reality.

Once we truly understand this, there are no idiots, just unique people coming through their own unique journey incomparable to anyone else. No one is better than anyone else, we've just had completely different lives. Humility, Respect and unconditional love for others is the lesson being learned for me. I can't say it is always easy and I'm a long way off, but it is the destination. The chance to be better than who I was yesterday, to learn from all those around me and to encourage as best I am able.

But one thing we probably all have in common is that we would like to be happy, whatever constitutes happiness for us. We would all like a comfortable life with enough food, water, shelter, clothing and money (or opportunity) to do the things we'd like to do. But ponder this... If all else failed, the economy, the money supply, transport... What do we have? What could we absolutely rely on?  ... Ourselves, those we love, those that love us? It's people and relationships that are the most important. And if you want proof of what's important, ask anyone who is about to die what are their regrets in life? You won't find money anywhere near the top of the list. Time to go make friends... Lots of them!

Link4Growth has taught me to recognise the lesson that I didn't see when I first met Patricia Duggan all those years ago. Love was the magic. Unconditional love, without judgement, only possible when we finally understand and love ourselves. What we do and give out to others ultimately determines what surrounds us. Link4Growth is a supportive, nurturing and collaborative place where we can freely give to others, a place to create new habits and to serve others. A place to practice respecting ourselves and those around us and to create deep, strong, long lasting relationships once more.

I wish to thank all of my teachers to date, without which I would have not had the opportunity to discover myself... And I am grateful for the ability to look back and learn these lessons from those interactions that still shapes my thinking today and entices me inexorably further along my own path.

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