As I sit back at home in the rainwashed British Countryside at Irwin HQ, I’m still amazed that just over 24 hours ago I was in California.
On the last day of my stay, the sun disappeared, as if England was calling me home. It rained hard – nature’s way of preparing me ahead of the 10-hour flight. I reflected that the fruit of my trip was still to come but the right seeds had been planted.
On the way home, the sun-kissed clouds seemed to be saying to me that regardless of the conditions or circumstances, the best way to handle life is to get above the clouds where the sun is always shining!
It is so easy to get swamped by bad news and take on the weight of responsibility to try to change it. A fresh perspective helps you to see that for every challenge there are infinite possibilities to solve it.
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For instance, when the UK economy limits you, go worldwide!
Sitting at a game of American Football, I realised that while the UK and the US share many similarities, there are huge differences. Imagine a UK amateur football match with 1,000 people watching a U16 game. Then, on come the U18 and the crowd swells to 5000k…
In the US, everything is huge and based around community. Sports carry a level of investment that is unrivalled. It isn’t uncommon to have 10,000 people show up for an important league match whereas in the UK a game of similar stature would be 500 people (my crowd for a cup final)! Friday Night Lights is a different gravy!
So, as I embraced the second half of my trip I experienced more of the local way of life and immersed myself even further into the local culture.
Michael (MD of Moxie International) runs a couple of soccer teams for two of his sons. Michael has SEVEN boys and his older children have taken part in American football, whereas the younger ones were more into soccer. We went to see one of his elder sons play and he got a sack, ie., he took the quarterback (the playmaker) out.
Whilst there, I put my football coaching skills to work to coach a few sessions. I loved it and helped secure a few victories with some tactical tweaks that they loved and started a few rumours about a coach who had arrived from the UK to help them go to the next level. The truth was that Michael’s investment of time, talent and treasure in this community team was starting to pay off!
Community is everything
Sports create players and spectators. The thrill of the win takes many hours of unseen effort and training. Rather like business, the wins take years of hard work to build and create something special.
It’s about committing to give ahead of an expected return, and as you do, you build your reputation and rewards. Be prepared to cultivate the ground by helping others with your greatest gift – your experience. For us, that experience meant shooting drills and warming up the keeper, and it brought us 5 goals and 0 against!
Men still have something to offer…
Listen, I am all for empowering women. I have seen how it takes amazing women to do jobs and raise families, or even homeschool and nurture the next generation, even though staying home to focus on raising a generation has been devalued and discounted.
In the US I saw a family of seven boys turning into amazing gentlemen and this was a reflection of their mother’s investment in their development. I realised that you need strong men in tough times and a mother’s contribution to that strength is key.
I also attended a men’s group in person in the US that I had attended online previously. It was so encouraging. The men in the group were looking to face challenges and to do better for their families and the next generation. Rather than burying their heads in the sand, they were looking to improve and using their life experience to help each other. These men cared, deeply.
For them, success was being able to help and provide for their families and lead well.
These men weren’t toxic, they were doing their best, despite their flaws and failures. They were wrestling but they had faith and they were determined to make a difference. They discussed, encouraged and helped each other. As I listened to them I realised that men are not society’s problem and women aren’t either. The problem comes when we try to compete with each other.
We are not meant to compete but rather help each other complete each other’s assignments. Family is worth fighting for – even if that isn’t very fashionable.
Successful shouldn’t be stressful
Too many people are working hard. Too hard. Men and women are working so hard that they never see the people they love the most.
A big part of that is doing what you are called to do. Too many people do what they think is right to fulfil responsibility rather than discovering and using their true ability. We should build a life that maximises what we are good at.
Now, you WILL get people who will misjudge you, second guess you and often your hardest critics are those who never build anything because they are not willing to invest. That comes with the territory as a pioneer. In the course of the last 10 days opportunities have opened up and deals concluded in my absence.
Growth happens when you are pursuing a purpose and not being pushed out of it. Let me encourage you. Focus on what’s in your heart and do that. Take that risk, rise above and the rewards will reveal themselves.
Change starts small, give your all
Sacramento is the capital of California where laws in the state get passed. As we ventured into the city in the heavy rain we found some light relief under a Vietnamese-owned ice cream truck. As I stood under the cover for the window propped up with the leather ties, I marvelled at the unique set of circumstances that had led me to this point.
Pioneering means using an extraordinary set of circumstances to create an extraordinary life. It takes time and you have to have a heart that’s willing to go beyond what is comfortable!
The kind man who owned the truck gave Michael some bin liners which allowed him to create ponchos to get through the deluge and into a local Starbucks. As Michael and his two youngest sons ran for cover I walked slowly, feeling the rain and knowing that getting wet is about being uncomfortable but enjoying it. The kind man in the ice cream van would have once been considered an enemy of their nation, but he didn’t let it stop him. He was embracing opportunity.
Change starts at small, and even when you feel uncomfortable, walk tall. You are made for this.
As I sit writing this, my bank account on my phone pings to tell me that the first customer from the US is ready for the launch of another tech product.
The journey home was long and seeing my family was amazing. , even though at first they failed to recognise me as I was wearing a cap!
Michael, Linda, Devon, Craig, Ian, Nathan, Ashton, Bowen, and Mason thank you for letting me stay and sample California at Castle Davies!
California thank you for the sun, and looking forward to starting a new race, yet to be won.