Yesterday (Friday 20th May) was just about perfect in what I look for in a day. There are three questions that I try and answer every day: ‘What did I learn today?’ ‘Who did I meet today?’ ‘What did I have fun with today?’ I don’t even consciously ask them anymore, but I do review them most days. Many days one out of the three are not answered, as much as I try to have fun, meet new people or learn something. Yesterday the questions were answered admirably.
I was up early: 5.30am, to get ready for the East Northants FSB business breakfast. Myself and my friend and co-presenter, Emma Wynne, were the speakers presenting ‘How to spot lovers, liars and business partners’. Nothing quite like talking business at 7am, but in a 4 star hotel it is a little easier. The presentation went well and we had fun doing it. A morning in the office getting through various admin tasks followed by lunch, even better as Emma paid. Don’t you just love it when it isn’t your turn? It was during the morning that I saw that my friend, and author, Isabel Losada was presenting in Much Wenlock, a journey of 90 minutes from where I live. As I had no set plans for the evening I booked a ticket and drove over there.
Many of you won’t have heard of Much Wenlock, but next year it will be all over the news. It is the place where the modern Olympic movement began in the 1850’s. Baron Pierre de Coubertin went there to sample the atmosphere and from seeing how it was done in Much Wenlock formed the idea for the games as we see them today, which Britain will host in 2012. One of the mascots for 2012 is even called Wenlock. Isabel was booked by Anna Dreda who owns Wenlock Books, but instead of Isabel’s talk being in the bookshop or a hall it was held at Wenlock Potteries, a delightful venue which was like going to a friends house for tea, but 50 people had shown up. Great venue, lovely atmosphere and Isabel on fine form.
Now the answers to my questions. ‘What did I learn?’ I learnt that Much Wenlock is a beautiful town and worth basing yourself in if you want to discover Ironbridge and all the history that is in that area. (It was where the Industrial Revolution began). I also learned that if you put silence into a presentation and get 50 people to meditate one will refuse to do it whilst the others get an overall sense of calm and fascination. ‘Who did I meet?’ Anna of Wenlock Books, her partner Hilary – who had an amazing Facebook story – the wonderful people at Wenlock Potteries as well as the great people at the FSB in the morning. ‘What did I have fun with?’ Pretty much everything throughout the day. I was awake for 21.5 hours, I drove 200 miles, spent hardly any money and listened to some great music on the drive. I love my iPod.
Contrast that with today. I have spent the whole day indoors, aside from a few minutes hanging clothes in the garden. I’ve tidied a little, ironed a lot, watched some dvd’s and generally taken it very easy. Was today as good as yesterday? No, not by a mile, but you can’t live at 100mph all the time. There comes a point where your mind or body says ‘Whoa, hang on. I need a rest’. I wrote recently about my 30th year of training and exercise and it’s my belief that the reason I don’t have any injuries is because I’ve known when to rest. The same is true of the mind. If you’ve been going through a rough time you have to find a place to centre yourself and be calm. In Isabel’s latest book (The Battersea Park Road to Paradise) she describes a 10 day course of meditation where you have to be still for 12 hours a day. Most of us find it hard to sit still for 5 minutes. For me meditation isn’t the most amount of fun I can have, I run to think, but the thing is it’s about being calm and centred. Many of my clients come and see me in a state of distress or anxiety. One of the first exercises I show them is how to be centred.
For me it’s important to have a place to be centred. Either in my house or my office at work. I can be at peace there, so when my days swing from manic to very quiet I have a place to think and be still. Thomas Edison once said that people should spend more time thinking, before they act. He had more patents than anyone in history so clearly he took action as well. That’s the key, to find balance. Manic balanced with calm. Passion allied to stillness. Creativity with thought. Balance is what we seek in the modern world and it comes in many forms. Ask your questions, find your answers and find your way to calm.