Stuck? Focus on the Passion (advice from an undertaker)

I woke up this morning with a topic for a blog post pre-formed in my mind. That happens quite often – my mild insomnia means that I am awake very early and I stare up at the ceiling working out the words that I am going to write, whether that is a post for this blog or one for Freestak (about influencer marketing) or a piece for Like the Wind magazine. Sometimes it is an idea for a social media post, but usually it is an idea that I know will require more words than twitter, Facebook or Instagram will allow or tolerate.

Today I woke up with the word ‘stuck’ in my head.

I feel stuck. Freestak is amazing, thrilling and hard work. And it feels as though we are constantly on the threshold of a breakthrough. At home, Julie and I have been trying to start a family and every month we’ve got everything crossed that we will find out that she is pregnant. So far, nothing. And in sport, I feel like every time I manage to drag my mojo out from its hiding place, something comes along to let it scuttle back out of sight. The latest setback is a cold that has gone on to my chest. Other problems (should that be excuses) have included a twisted ankle, the weather, mild depression, too much to do at work, insomnia… the list goes on.

So on three significant fronts, I feel stuck.

The post that I was forming in my head, as I lay in bed trying to put a positive spin on yesterday’s happenings and what I had planned for today, was about the idea of being stuck and getting stuck in. As Churchill famously said;

If you’re going through hell, keep going.

I was going to write about the importance of grit. Or of the Finnish word Sisu, that has no direct translation in English but loosely means stoic determination, grit, bravery, guts, resilience. I was going to write about the need to just keep going in the belief that eventually things would work out. Certainly I believe that a business doesn’t fail until the people in it give up. That if there is a determination to keep going no matter what, a company can always keep going – it just might be that it can’t pay people temporarily.

This being primarily a running blog, I was going to talk about the importance of consistency. Training no matter what. Just getting out there for the run. I would have written about the time that I went out for my 2 hour run on one of the few days that London was covered in snow. In order to get the session done, I found a 1km stretch of road in Palmers Green, a mile from where I live, that had been cleared and ran up and down that over and over again for 120 minutes. How in the same circumstances the great Charlie Spedding would go to a multi-storey carpark and run up and down the ramps to get a hill session done when the snow fell in his home town of Newcastle.

And then, on my way to the office this morning, I bumped into Peter. As usual, he was in front of his business, greeting locals that he knows as they hurried towards the tube station to head into work (presumably many of them just trying to get stuck in to get over being stuck).

Peter is a very successful businessman. He has a love of cars. All of them black and one of them worth more than a one-bedroom flat in London’s over-blown property bubble. Peter’s business is a funeral directors.

As is usual, Peter and I talked for a few minutes about business. He mentioned some struggle he was dealing with. We dwelt on that for a moment. He asked how I was doing. And it being so early in the morning and me being sleep-deprived, I confessed that I was struggling with a few things at the moment.

Without missing a beat, Peter looked me in the eye and said;

Focus on the passion

That was it. Bingo! Lightbulb moment! Focus on the damn passion. Get back to the reasons for everything I – we – are doing. Peter added: “I know it is hard. For a small business, you are always worried about cashflow and the future. Survival is a struggle. And that might relate to other areas of your life as well. But if you can focus on the passion, you will succeed. It is almost the start of a new month – spend November focussing on the passion. Then we’ll talk again – see how you are getting on.”

I can tend to be a bit insular or uptight about sharing problems. I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ who is always moaning and complaining. Gary Vaynerchuk for one would not tolerate that.

But I am a bit stuck at the moment. And I think that perhaps I have lost sight of the whys.  The reasons for doing things have become clouded by the day-to-day pressures.

Why does Freestak exist? Because it is an amazing journey to try to build a business. Because we might be able to help people get into endurance sports and through that be better versions of themselves. Because I love people and I want to work with a team of really cool colleagues. Because I love working with my wife. Because businesses involved in sport tend to be full of wonderful people that I would love to work with.

Why do I want to be a Dad? Because I love my wife and I think that together we would be great parents. Because I am fascinated by the idea that I might be able to help a person become the best they can possibly be. Because I believe that I have much to share with – and I have more to learn from – a human being that I am intrinsically linked to.

Why do I run or ride or work-out? Because it makes me feel good. It helps me become a better person. Because it allows me to challenge myself and through challenges see that I am capable of more than I thought I was. Because of the health benefits and as my Grandad used to say, “health is wealth”.

So thank you, Peter. We hardly know each other and yet you said something this morning that instantly cut through all the noise and the fog. Straight to the heart of the matter. I’m ready for November – a month focused on the passion.

1 Comment

  1. Hey Simon, really liked your post. I’m sat in a cafe in London, around the corner from the London marathon store (found your blog through a 2013 post about the previous store’s closure). I’m about to run a 10k with a bunch of people I’ve never met, for a charity we’re all raising money for. I’ve spent the morning on a train and feel stiff as hell after a week of work. Im training for a marathon, the London, as you put it, and I’m not a runner. Yet I keep going, through sweat and (many) tears, I’m trying to be a runner it feels. Like fitting a square peg in a round hole. It might never be my passion, but, it’s what I’m running for that’s my passion, and this post reminded me of that, so thanks for sharing. I hope your business keeps flourishing, cheers.

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