The Blog

Leading Ladies

There comes a time when you realise that actually you aren't very insignificant indeed. That very few things really matter and that actually most things don't matter at all.

To paraphrase the lovely quote from the film The Holiday one would hope to be the "leading lady [or man for that matter] in your own life story".

Having the leading role may not necessarily mean you always take centre stage but are at least playing an important part in the plot line.

All of us at some time or other like to think we are the single most important person on the planet and that in fact the whole world should revolve round us at that point. If you are thinking NOOO, not me, never well frankly I don't believe you. Of course you have had these feelings if only fleetingly.

Yours is the biggest problem, ever this sort of thing never happens to anyone else, you have had the worst day in history etc etc etc

The thing is, and it could well be an age thing, there comes a time when you realise that actually you aren't very insignificant indeed. That very few things really matter and that actually most things don't matter at all.

Try this; write down those things that are really, really praying on your mind. The things that are keeping you awake at night, stopping you eating or relaxing and are making you drink more than is good for you. Put them in a little book and resolve not to look at them again for 12 months. I guarantee you that for the most part (and I accept some things may well have gone not quite as well as hoped) most of these matters will by that time be of little or no consequence and you will reflect positively on what on earth it was that was causing you so much grief.

Then revisit these again 12 months later or five years later, the relevance will more than likely be of zero consequence.

It is my findings that everyone you meet is fighting a personal battle of some kind, some large and disastrous other less so. All of us carry these burdens in different way. Some (and more often than not in my experience, men) retreat to their personal cave and hibernate. Some, particularly women, may be better able to share their burdens over a coffee, a large piece of chocolate or a glass of wine and rationalise a route map.

No one person deals with worries in the same way but the ability to contextualise them has helped me enormously of late.

As my own leading lady I will get on an early morning train or tube sometimes feeling overwhelmed with what's going on in my life, business or personal. I will take a look around at the often tired and drawn faces of my fellow passengers, 1000's of them on the London transport system, and I can be pretty sure that whatever I am worrying about today someone in this carriage will have a much bigger issue than I could possibly dream of.

Pass a hospital or a hospice, switch on the news or pick up any newspaper and the almost unimaginable issues that are being handled there will make you feel very humble indeed.

This of course doesn't lesson your burden. You can't help sometimes to be self-absorbed, we will all do this (some of us perhaps on a too frequent basis) but reflection is a positive thing. The old saying of count your blessings is a sound one.

Recently while researching for my next book I had a meeting with a courageous business man. He had been diagnosed with cancer and a month later so was his wife. His business suffered and eventually he had no option but to close it and sell his house to pay off his debts. All this whilst he and his wife were simultaneously undertaking chemotherapy. Ok maybe not third world problems you may say but pretty blooming dire.

I asked him 'how did you keep going?'

His answer;

"I woke up each day and looked at my wife and we both said well we aren't dead yet. We have three children who need us and we have each other. There are no bars on the windows and when we get through this treatment, god willing, we can both get jobs even if they may not be the best jobs in the world we can put food on the table"

Fortitude or just the human survival gene? Thankfully 3 years later they are both in remission and they have rented a small B& B which is providing them with an income and a home for their children.

They haven't rescued the world but they have recused each other and make, in my mind, two of the best leading players I have had the privilege to meet.

The world does not start and finish with you, but when you are in it its essential to play your part well.

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