With our move to Chamonix, France, people often ask us ‘What do you do for work?’ and I have struggled for a concise answer, replying with ums and ahs. Our recent adventure gave me plenty of time to think and I am forming a new philosophy for myself; an analogy for the stage of my life I am in.
I am munching.
Like The Very Hungry Caterpillar before me, I am munching away; not sure of my destination, but I am eating, trying, and testing out everything and anything of interest. I know that the experiences I am relishing right now are all building on the foundations I have laid as a person, businessman, and athlete.
Focusing on the Journey
Like most people, I worry about my future. I worry that I need to be doing more, that I need to be achieving more, and that I need to be further along in whatever life journey I should be on. Recently, however, I have become much happier. I have started to let go, started to focus on the journey more. I still have the bigger picture worries but I am feeling more confident in the fact that they will take care of themselves; that the baby steps I take today will, when I look back, appear as giant leaps. Sometimes these will be in the right direction, other times not, but always forward, always growing, and always learning.
I was brought up with wonderful advice and support from my parents and always hold onto a pearl of wisdom my mum gave me:
Don’t close any doors until you have to.
I try to live by this saying and it is somewhat of a mantra of mine. Whatever I do, keep doors open and, if possible, open new ones. Sometimes a decision you make means you need to close one door and go through another, that is fine but keep as many options open to you as possible. This is key to my munching as I don’t know where it is going to lead me just that it is taking me somewhere.
I am munching with three key themes at the moment; my personal development, as a husband and friend; my professional development, as an entrepreneur and product manager; and physical development, as an athlete and alpinist.
I have one rule for all of this:
I must always be adding value; to myself, those around me, or the world at large.
I am aware that by focusing on the short term and on what is going to make me happy, I am being selfish. I want to make sure that every decision I make has genuine benefits greater than just scratching an itch and builds on the foundations I have laid.
I am very privileged to spend so much time with my amazing wife, Sophie. We are fourteen months into married life and we get to spend nearly all our time together. We joke about how we’ll never be able to go back to 9-5 jobs and spend so long apart. Sickeningly sweet. I know, but we are loving being able to spend so much time together and support each other on this amazing journey.
Add to that the old and new friends alike who are on incredible and transformative journeys too, supporting them when times are tough and celebrating the victories along the way. I struggle to take in how lucky I am right now and don’t want to miss any part of it by worrying about one day in the future.
I took a huge step when we decided to move to Chamonix. I left an amazing startup and great group of people who have continued to go from strength to strength and have often wondered; did I make the right decision. I know I did but seeing people continue to be successful when you could have been there too is difficult. I am not sitting still though. The move has opened up some incredible opportunities to work on projects that are much more personal. I am working with the amazing Guerilla Policy, a group I’ve helped for a number of years, as they fight to change the way public policy is created. I am also working with a few other organizations, applying my knowledge and experience to their businesses and offering my value to them.
All of this is providing me with a lifestyle that, though an alternative path to high flying in London, allows me to work on my biggest passion right now, my physical and outdoors development.
As my older friends know well, I’ve undergone quite a transformation the last 5 years; from nights in the pub and not even owning gym kit, I now spend more time outdoors and active than I ever thought possible. Living in Chamonix and having such incredible terrain on our doorstep gives me amazing opportunities to see where I can take this, and I am not going to miss out on this.
A late comer to climbing and alpinism, it is where my biggest passion is right now and I want to know how far I can go with it, to find out what I am capable of, and to enjoy every second I can in the wonderful environments I find myself in these days.
I have always been ambitious and, right now, with my climbing, I am no different. The great thing about any climbing goals is that the journey is as much fun, if not more than reaching the end goal.
I have some grand plans and can’t wait to talk to you all about them but, for now, just know that it’s going to be a pretty exciting and can’t wait to share it with everyone.
The future will take care of itself
I know I am in a very privileged position right now but this position gives me the confidence to let the future take care of itself. As long as I am always munching, always learning, and always adding value, I believe that the future is in safe hands. I have to accept a level of uncertainty but I am willing to do that in the hope that one day, when I come out of my cocoon and spread my wings, I will be doing something I love to the best of my ability.
My Very Hungry Caterpillar Philosophy in 3 simple steps:
- Try something new
- Take the time to reflect and process it
- Trust in yourself, and don’t worry if you don’t have a plan.