Wasting a Moment.

It’s an odd comment, isn’t it: “There’s not a moment to waste!”

I’ve ‘wasted’ lots of moments this month.  August 2013’s remarkable beauty, particularly here in West Sussex, has requested that I stop and stare, contemplate, think, pray and dream.

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View from the swinging seat.

The swinging seat (or covered deck) in our enclosed, deliciously private garden gazing with wonder at some of the nine varieties of trees we have planted.

The bench seat in the back of my newly converted T4 VW camper (with the door wide open) looking out onto Bosham waterfront.

The two-mile-long beach on the Gower Peninsula having walked across the rocks of Worms Head.

Gazing down over Storrington from Chantry Post as my friend Derek and I shared lunch – these have all played host to me ‘wasting a moment’, or maybe hours.

And June had many ‘wasted moments’ too as I took the Camper to Orkney via Loch Ness and Inverness, then down the west coast of Scotland from Cape Wrath (what a name!), round the gorgeous Applecross peninsula, down through Yorkshire, a bare star lit field in Cumbria, home to Sussex again.

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Vital Spark hiding in a scottish harbour.

Alone. Quiet. Still. Gentle. Literally ‘thought provoking’ hours.

Wasted moments?  Of course not. These ‘wasted moments’ have been some of my most creative times, times of reevaluation, study,  times when crucial insights mushroom from an atom-sized spark in my brain, forming, growing, transforming.

And who decides what is wasted and what is not?  How can I ever know that the thoughts that came as I sat on the swinging seat were, in fact, wasted? Or the prayers I prayed.  How can anyone, in this infinitely complex world of unexpected, unintended, unpretended ‘coincidences’ know what is wasted and what is priceless?

The most creative and life-changing moments come from surprise connections. In the last week: a meeting in a motorcycle dealership; a conversation on a Art Trail (through 40 private homes in Arundel); another, sitting on a bank of wind-swept grass waiting for the tide.

Waiting for the tide.
Waiting for the tide, Worm’s Head, Gower.

Go waste some time.  It beats obsessing about efficiency and slotting people into already jammed diaries.  Ugh! How do YOU like being ‘fitted in’ to places?  Me too!  Yet the work still gets done, my contribution made.

So put aside the world’s demands for it to consume more of your life for a bit. Leave “Juggling your life” to the editors of life-style magazines and programme editors. Risk ‘wasting’ some time between now and mid October.

Be an example to the world of someone who knows how and when to STOP.  Step back from – or step out of –  the lemming- race and see what happens. Wait for the tide.

And if you meet a Kind Stranger? Well, you’re in for a very nice surprise.

Inevitable Success

Here at Powerchange Central we’ve been studying some more and noticing that success is inevitable for human beings.

Success is not the attainment of some challenging goal. Success is an UNAVOIDABLE consequence of being human. Yes, unavoidable. And it is not something you achieve either. It is something you have right here and NOW. Your life is filling up every day with success. Every day along the journey you have taken – successfully – step after step.  When you have stumbled or even fallen headlong, you have chosen to get up and walk on. That is success. The fact of you reading this is another indication of your success.

Failing is success being born (not ‘trying to be born’ as some would quote.) Failing IS SUCCESS BEING BORN. Each time you fail you move your life another step along the road, not ‘to’ success but ‘of’ success. Think of success as the name we give to the journey not merely the feelings we have when we get a result we want.

If you are a living human being, you are experiencing success now. Don’t be fooled by those who would market success as a rare commodity to which only they have the key. Success is getting up in the morning when things are tough.  We suffer , not from a lack of success, but from a blindness to how success haunts our every action. Your success is inevitable.

From the day you began you are programmed to succeed. And you do. My little grandson struggled with feeding in the first few days of his life. When he managed to get himself sorted out and started to put on weight people said ‘Well done!’ to him. He wasn’t knowingly growing – he couldn’t help it. Instinctively he was designed to succeed and he did. Now he is setting out to walk around the world and has started practising, pushing his little legs out strongly when you hold him up. He is also learning to roll over.  He hasn’t done it yet, but in a week or two he will. He is programmed to succeed and cannot NOT do so.

Like the Chinese who count your birthday as from conception not birth, success begins at the conception of your life, your project or your intention and is a constant companion on your journey. Simply moving towards the final outcome is in itself very rewarding (it will make you feel great as you realise you’re moving towards completion) but it isn’t the final ‘final outcome’ is it.  There is always somewhere further, somewhere deeper, somewhere higher to go, and it is an inevitable part of human nature to take another step.

You started kicking away in the womb exercising your legs ready for walking as a toddler. Those early kicks are the beginning of walking. The little child pressing those piano keys and hearing a note IS playing the piano. It’s not the end of his piano career, it is the beginning.

You haven’t stopped walking since you made those early kicks, have you! And although you may be giving your piano-playing skills a holiday for the time being, you never know when you’ll want to continue the process and improve them.

Success, when seen in this light, provokes a different response to the normal congratulatory praise we bask in when we come to the end of a chosen pathway of (not ‘to’) success and achieve a goal. It provokes a response of gratitude and humility, for success isn’t about perfection or arrival but about the way you are made. You are very cleverly designed to succeed, and you do. If it was up to you to take the credit, I’d say ‘Well done’, but none of us can avoid our success. It is as natural (and often as unnoticeable) as breathing.

Still breathing? Brilliant. Enjoy your success.

Success Part 1. Deeper.

To tell you the truth, I’m sick of all this talk of Success.  Most of it is just talk! The word “success’ is what’s called in the trade a nominalisation. It means a name, a label, stuck onto a collection of behaviours or actions.

Most of us have some idea of what  a person means by ‘success’, but to be honest, I’m not fussed about the words in which we wrap the true meaning of success.  I want the contents. I’m not a two year old who likes playing with the paper that pretties up their Christmas presents. I want to get to what’s inside those wrappings.

So what will we have in our hands when the silver bows and Sellotape have been stripped away and the contents revealed?  Smart little trinkets that last an hour or two? Another pair of socks I didn’t choose and don’t like? Forget it.

There is something deeper and higher and better than the apparent trinkets of success.

Deeper, higher, better – in that order please.

People who build higher without going deeper end up with a pile of rubble in their lives when crises strike, so I’ve outlined my Top Six ‘presents’ that you might like to imagine stuffed into your next giant Christmas Stocking. They are the equivalent of huge rocks added to the foundations of your future life and for me they support a quality of daily life that has substance.  They are massive and will not move once they are in place. You can test them and rely on them.  They will serve you very very well. No trinkets in this list, and the first letter of each gives us the mnemonic SALADD:IMG_0442

1. A deep sense of powerful Significance. You and I know just how valuable that is.  I want to wake up every morning glad first of all, not that my yacht is in the bay or my posh car is on the drive, but that Andrew Sercombe is alive in the world today and is making an active contribution to its well-being.

2. A fundamental awareness of your Acceptance. This has to be the number one human need, and I’ll keep it short. Acceptance is to hear a fellow human being honestly say “I love you”, to have that priceless sense of being truly welcome, wanted, ‘just as I am’, with or without the glitz of the yacht, or the prestige motorcar – and in case you imagine I think material wealth is somehow second rate or immoral, just let me say the yacht in the bay and the posh car on the drive will be just fine – but they are no substitute for being truly loved, welcomed and wanted.

3. To be able to earn a Living. Yes, able to earn it. I’m glad to be able to earn my living, and want to serve the world well until the day I die. I want to get wiser, smarter, be a better businessman, learn vastly more, and learn how to make the most of the resources I’ve got now. I want to create multiple-win business that means there are no losers.  No place here for me sponging off others and being lazy. There is no joy in being the recipient of charity and benefits – believe me, I’ve been there and I felt so degraded. Earning your own living and planning for your own  future is highly satisfying. These are also essentials to emotionally healthy lives.

4. The joy of Achievement. How we need to achieve! It is as if it is built into our DNA. The little child stretches for the light switch, and one day the light comes on! The student works towards graduation – and they make it! From the single mum battling to keep the family solvent to the Olympic sprinter obsessed with that all important ‘personal best’, joy comes through doing, stretching, going beyond what we managed last year, last weekend, yesterday.  And remember, sometimes it is much easier to take a leap than take small incremental steps.

Two more:

5. An inspiring Direction. A sense of Purpose – what a present! It lasts a lifetime.  Knowing, not so much what life is about, but what your life is about, what you’ve chosen to be the answer to the question”What am I doing here?” There is nothing like being clear about the purpose of your daily actions, knowing for yourself what the deeper meaning of what you are doing is for you. (In Powerchange we run a coaching programme called The Powerchange Experience. It will sort this out for you.)

6. The relief of Discipline. This is the deep satisfaction of deciding on and living within boundaries that give my life form, shape, character and productivity. It’s deciding what I will and won’t value, where and how I want to spend my life, and staying willingly and happily within those healthy constraints.  It means I will be leaving good things out so that there is room for even better things. Spread yourself too thinly, water your life down and the result is tastelessness, you become insipid, ineffectual, compromised, weak, unattractive; a colourless, grey life.

So these are my Top Six Foundation Stones: Significance. Acceptance. A Living. Achievement. Direction. Discipline… SALADD!  And when the remains of superficial success are carted off to the recycling facility, to be remade into tat for next year’s get-rich-quick shoppers, the lasting success of those who have built their achievements on the indestructible solid-rock foundation stones of a life well lived will remain.

As Marie Antoinette could have more profitably said if she’d only thought, “Let them eat SALADD.” You won’t find anything more undergirding for your future success.