Does Rick Astley hold the key to a quality of life?
I never imagined, as I danced, badley, to “Never gonna give you up” at Nicola’s nightclub in Halifax (with the rest of the 5th form!!) that Rick Astley would have such a profound effect on my later life. So much so, that he has, to all intents and purposes changed my whole approach.
There is no question that life as a global road warrior is different for everyone. Some of my fellow travellers love to visit new places, love air planes and airports and that self assured feeling that you have a position and a title and that you are vital to the operation of your organisation. As you arrive at yet another office or customer, you slip effortlessly into your persona and off you go. Some do it solely for the money, the compensation plan, the air miles and the hangovers. Most of us start with all the best intentions, and some never change. There is a whole essay, or even thesis, that could be written on that subject but I don’t have the intellectual mindscape to do it justice, so will leave that to the truly clever. Suffice to say that I had not been feeling like that for a number of months.
As readers of this blog will know I have recently come off the road to reassess my life, take advantage of some financial freedoms and plan what to do next. While I was listening to Radio 4 ( I would love to say I am too young for this channel, but maybe i’m not) I heard one of Rick’s comeback interviews. Rick Astley had never played much of a part in my life. I like soul, but was never a massive Stock, Aitkin and Waterman fan, so didn’t really pay much attention. More recently I had a fleeting brush with the man as he was the main support for Peter Kay live in Manchester, and if I knew what I know now, maybe the mug of tea he brought onstage with him would have had a much greater significance.
During every interview with someone who seems to have had a ‘comeback’ they are almost inevitably asked “what is different this time around?” There seems to be a number of fairly standard answers including, but not limited to “it has more meaning now I’ve had children” , “I was in a dark place but through this journey I have seen the light” etc…etc…. and Rick was no different really. There were references to his own journey, to the fact he was much more in control of his own destiny and that it was just as enjoyable. what he did say however, which really caught my attention was this. The big difference for him was that first time around he now feels like he felt he got paid to fly around the world, wait in hotels because he would have played the music for free!!. This got me thinking..
How much of my time do I actually engage, in a meaningful way and effectively ‘play my music’? How much of my time is simply going from place to place and waiting? Now there are a plethora of texts around which have analysed the sales process and stated that you spend a minimal amount of time (far less than you believe) actually in front of a prospect, customer or colleagues engaging in a meaningful way. Somehow this seems less important when you move into senior management, simply being there seems to be an achievement in itself. I hadn’t really considered this over the last 15 years because I had been too engrossed in the job…. So I started to look back over my diary. Taxi to train to office, taxi to hotel, to airport…Flight!! taxi to hotel, to office….some meetings….lunch….meetings….taxi to hotel, to airport, Flight!! was this really how it had been?
Now I appreciate that I have condensed this for the purposes of brevity, but when I looked more closely at the schedule and even then more closely at the meeting subjects and the outcomes, I quickly came to realise that maybe Rick was right. The things I enjoyed, I would have done for free, and I was being paid just to get there and be there!!! More worryingly the vast majority of my time was spent doing the bits I didn’t care for, the bits that didn’t achieve anything whilst the bits I loved, seemed to take up minimal time.
So, whats the answer? Well I think it is different for everyone. To the people who enjoy the travelling the waiting and the work, keep going. But maybe sometimes just consider what else you could be doing? building Lego models with your kids, talking with your mates, looking at art, writing books, laughing, crying, living!!! To the people, like me, who are considering the situation….good luck. I can not tell you if I will be successful financially, I’m not sure I want to be that financially successful anymore because Im perfectly happy eating one meal at a time, driving one car and wearing one reasonably priced pair of pants!! But what I do know is that if I am to wait around, it will be because I want to, and not because I have to, and not because someone else is paying me to. Money is an infinite commodity, and we can always go and earn some more, time, however is finite, and more importantly none of us know how much we have….so I guess I have revalued my life and revalued my time thanks to 80’s pop icon , Rick Astley. Cheers Rick, I’m never gonna give YOU up..