May 27, 2021:
There’s been plenty of time for us all to stop, reflect and think about life over the past few months.
However, that’s not the sort of thing that comes naturally to me.
Throughout my career, I’ve always been the sort of person that’s looking for the next big thing . . . sitting on my hands, reminiscing about the good old days or simply settling for the status quo just isn’t my style.
But one of the things I most certainly have been reflecting on over these past few months are the lessons that lockdown has taught us all, as a society.
And I’ve been asking myself: Have the testing times we’ve all endured made us wiser, better people, or persuaded us to re-evaluate the most important things in life?
For me, I think they’ve certainly reinforced lots of them. The value of a loving and supportive family, for starters.
I’ve recently become a grandfather for the first time (I know, you can’t believe I’m old enough, right?) and holding young Rosie in my arms sent my thoughts back to the days when her mum, my daughter Shanie, was small enough to be carried round on my shoulders all those years ago.
It filled me with pride, as well as gratitude for the important life lessons about decency, honesty and integrity which have been instilled in us by my mother, and are being carried on through the generations.
Kindness, compassion and gratitude are super-powers at times like these. Because let me tell you, taking time to stop and appreciate those closest to you can truly lift the spirits.
Lockdown has also highlighted the importance of looking after ourselves.
My business – indeed, most of my life – has revolved around fitness, gyms and the leisure industry, so I’m acutely aware of the damage that months in lockdown has done to our physical and mental wellbeing.
Sports and leisure facilities are crucial for adults and children to stay active, and it is truly heart-warming to see the joy on people’s faces as they returned to our M Clubs, and Waterworld Leisure Resort.
What else have I learnt during lockdown? That I missed seeing my friends, and that we are naturally social animals, who will never be able to live our lives on Teams or Zoom links.
That we must never underestimate the incredible efforts of our key workers, who shouldn’t have to wait for a pandemic to receive the credit and thanks they deserve.
And that getting out and about on regular walks has given us a new appreciation of the beautiful scenery on our doorstep, too.
I was reminded the other day about a famous saying by Warren Buffett, the American business tycoon and philanthropist.
He said: “Surround yourself with people that push you do to better – no drama or negativity, just higher goals and higher motivation. Good times and positive energy – no jealously and hate, simply bringing out the absolute best in each other.”
Wise words indeed, and never more important, given the traumatic times which many of us have been enduring.
Your environment, and the people you choose to surround yourself with, are always going to be the most crucial ingredient for your health, hopes, and happiness.
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