“The beginning is always today.” Mary Shelley Beginnings; the point in time or space at which something begins; a starting point; an early stage or period. Life is a series of beginnings one after the other. “Every moment is a fresh beginning.” T.S. Eliot I talk about and advocate beginnings all the time, more specifically midlife beginnings. For me each beginning is a learning. As learning and achievement are two of my core values, I find myself constantly at the beginning of new journeys in different topics and fields. I feel where I am at this point in time is at the beginning of a whole new life. Without sounding too dramatic it is with the understanding that there are so many great opportunities available and I simply choose to grow and learn every day. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Seneca In March 2020, a distant memory now, as one business venture came to an abrupt end, one door closed. However, many others opened. I attended my first Professional Speaking Association meeting, created a new business and started a new podcast all in one month. What may have seemed like a steep learning curve at the time was actually an incredible opportunity to leverage all my previous experience. As with a new beginning you aren’t starting from scratch, you bring all your resources, learnings and strengths to the space. Yes, the pandemic caused me to change direction, to have a total rethink what I do and WHY I do it and all for the better! On 2nd December 2019, I met with billionaire author of Total Rethink, David McCourt and something he said that day stayed with me. “Always forward”, he said. It was actually the advice he had received from his mother! “No matter what happens in life remember somebody has it worse. Try, as hard as it seems, to always accept what has happened. Put one foot in front of the other and move forward, always forward.” Katherine McCourt, David’s mother Can you visualise a world that you'd like to live in in the future? That you want for yourself and your family? By doing so, you can then work out a route for reaching that destination by working out what has to change to make your dream a reality. It is then up to you to construct a plan for making that change happen. With an experimental mindset and as a midlife beginner I have had many successes in midlife. I have also had many failures. Having an experimental mindset is something that doesn't always feel very safe especially at the beginning of each new venture. With the turn of the new year now comes a new beginning for me in the guise of President of the Southeast region of the Professional Speaking Association. Another new adventure for me stepping out of my comfort zone. “I think life begins at the end of your comfort zone and it's just when you step out of that comfort zone when your eyes open to the world outside.” Shannel Bernard 010 - Life Begins Outside Your Comfort Zone Seeing how my life has completely changed in the last seven years and again more recently in the last two, one of the great questions I often ask myself is, ‘what don't I see?’ Like me, do you have a tendency to look at people whose success we want to emulate? What you have to remember is that you are not emulating them at the beginning of their journey. It has taken them time and effort to reach where they are now. They will have likely started from humble beginnings and certainly when no one was watching them early on. As Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Years ago I watched a TV programme where expedition leader, marine biologist, travel writer and former marine, Monty Halls, escaped city life and spent a year on the west coast of Scotland rebuilding a crofter’s cottage to live a humble life with his dog Reuben. I was spellbound. It seemed so idyllic to escape to this remote place on the island of North Uist without all the noise of a modern world. My daughter at the time remarked on how captivated I was checking that it was not going to be a reality for us to up sticks! On 7th December 2019, I had the privilege of meeting Monty and hearing him speak about the elemental forces of success: vision, drive, resilience and belief. He emphasised how your values are the still point in a turning world quoting Ernest Hemingway. “Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.” Monty challenged me to think what is the thing that drives us and makes us proud: our identity. He said that our possibilities are endless and our limits are like our fears and are largely an illusion. He said that you get to choose your attitude quoting Charles Darwin, “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.” As adventure is the word I have chosen to be my guide this year, it seems apt that I am reminded of this adventure memory at the beginning of 2022. And so the adventure begins… Focus on Beginnings!
ACTION POINT What beginnings are you facing today? What experience, learnings and resources will you bring to the table?