I consume information. That’s why I always take my time to form an opinion because I spend time turning information over in my head. While I am fixed on certain topics they tend to change and develop and while this is happening, having a fixed opinion seems a bit premature.
So, rather than fixing my opinion, fixing my attention before fixing an opinion has become my non-negotiable. It’s good to find non-negotiables in your life, around the pillars that you prioritise.
My pillars are God, marriage, family, purpose and, of course, Liverpool FC.
Those that know me will know that my pillars are part of who I am. I haven’t always had them, but now they drive my choices, keep my sanity and give me clarity.
The most important pillar of my life is that I believe in God. I know what it is like to know God and I also know what it’s like when you don’t know God. I have lived both lives and I can confidently say that a life with Him beats a life without Him.
By the world’s standards, I was successful without God in my life but now I know I am with Him I am at peace, more fulfilled and in my heart I want to be and do good. I honestly didn’t before.
I took the first step in 2001 when I took responsibility for my life and changed everything based on what I knew my heart needed.
Other people considered that my behaviour was radical when I changed course. They thought I was even more crazy when I chose God and got married. No one had seen that one coming.
Twenty-two years later, we are still married and it has been a bit of an adventure. Happily, Clare carries one indelible quality (there are more) that for me defines womanhood, and that is her courage. We have taken more risks than most and not everyone knows that pressure. However, the payoff is the opportunity to pursue a dream and impact other people positively.
Our children are our legacy and to steward them well we broke away from ‘normal’ to ensure that they would become extraordinary people, rather than be like us and waste years of our youth. And, as our family grows, I know that we are making progress. It feels like generational progression.
Our children have an entrepreneurial outlook, confident with adults and don’t follow the crowd. They ask difficult questions and they can’t stand peer pressure, they’ll even call it out.
Purpose has had its cost but we chose to invest in it fully and we still do, daily. We are committed to breaking negative cycles and positioning future generations for success. And I have seen the shift taking shape.
It was the captivating sight of Bruce Grobbelaar doing spaghetti legs to win a game (1984 European Final) that cemented my decision to become a Liverpool fan and I’ve never once considered following another team.
So, these are the five main choices I have made for my life and sticking by them has become a source of positivity for me, even when all around me the negativity has become almost deafening.
In 2023 we are seeing a year of negative amplification that has polarized nations and the divisiveness continues to grow. Men and women are left fighting for supremacy and polarised political persuasions are causing rifts and fights across the pond. The news media seem committed to promoting doom and gloom. Weather maps are aglow with fire and news reports drip feed an overriding sense of escalating craziness.
Where did the ability to converse and think critically disappear off to? It’s as if the media is conditioning us to jump on a side to be “right”. However, when you dig a bit deeper you’ll see that the choices we are being proffered aren’t always based on what’s morally right, there’ll be a hidden agenda or a vested interest somewhere behind it all, with those that choose to abstain demonized.
For me, something is off. Very wrong. If the side we choose is proven wrong over time, where is the humility to admit that we were wrong and a corresponding effort made to put it right? No, we prefer gaslighting. People everywhere (media included) are pretending that stuff never happened!
Now that I’m older I don’t care so much about being right or wrong. It’s enough for me that I have my non-negotiables and I don’t take them lightly. I want to live a life of conviction rather than preference so that I can stand for something rather than merge into the background.
I want to help other people build around their non-negotiables so that they can lead from conviction rather than circumstances.
Too often we are expected to parrot what someone else said when there are a lot of untruths out there (greenwashing, sport washing etc.) rather than checking the facts! The media is rife with front-page news and apologies relegated to page 30.
Podcasts are promoting the ability to discuss ideas and help people to understand why someone has concluded. Because podcasts create empathy they are becoming an important string to a “brand bow”.
Taking the time to understand our audience helps us to engage with the people we do our best work for with a laser focus rather than a scattergun. Then, rather than just selling, we learn to serve them.
We have to stop barking and start listening. Sit and chat. Discuss. Disagree and be ok with it. I have Manchester United friends, and while I don’t share in their delusion (joke), it’s ok!
Empathy is a superpower
Being willing to discuss your position and understand someone else’s is love in action – not being shut down or shutting others down.
I think that we have become too quiet on issues that matter and very loud about things that don’t. Furthermore, we are being encouraged to become swift to form an opinion without taking the time to ‘check the facts’ and check the facts of the fact-checkers (and I wonder who funds them?)
Today, from elections to vaccinations, there has never been a greater demand for more conversation. We need to share both sides and form a considered viewpoint.
Being the first to bark never wins.
It is time we read books, study more, think better, engage and discuss ideas. Create rather than consume. Be thought leaders and action takers. Proactive rather than reactive.
Then, when you have to bark back at some point, you can educate and relate because you didn’t just do what the TV told you, you found out for yourself!
We are better together when we work together.