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August 24, 2012

Everyday inspiration

I was out of the country with my family for the 2012 Olympics, so I missed most of the patriotic fervour that our hosting of the Games generated. I read many Tweets and articles to follow the progress of Team GB and contributed comments to a couple of Blogs that linked the Olympics to business, citing lessons for small businesses and stirring us to achieve greater things in our careers using athletic performance as our inspiration.

There was a genuine feeling of pride as I sat and listened to the German media coverage of the Olympics and talk about the spectacle that the London organisers and volunteers had created at both the opening and closing ceremonies; without having to suffer any of the political or social manipulation that goes hand in hand with the typical UK media coverage. It was wonderful.

But this is not going to be another Blog about the Olympics. What really touched me this summer was a stranger. No… not like that.

Our holiday apartment has a shared garden and this year we found ourselves sharing with a German family. Our first meeting was awkward but we soon realised that something was amiss in the family dynamic. The husband ran his own company and he sat in the garden most of the time conducting his business affairs over the telephone. But this is not a piece on the dangers of taking work away with you on holiday either. His wife (a mother of two young children) had suffered an accident that had left her in a coma, during which she had become deprived of oxygen. As a result she had suffered brain damage and could no longer function as an adult. Her mental age was that of a child ad she required constant care from her husband and parents (who had accompanied them on their holiday) to perform even the most basic functions.

Without encroaching on that family’s privacy, it was obvious from overheard conversations that the situation was taking its toll on the family and, in particular, on the husband. It was heart breaking.

So why write any of this on a Company Blog?

Well, I wanted to share one moment with you that had a massive impact on me. One afternoon, as I sat on my balcony enjoying a cold Fürstenberg, I watched the man and his wife play catch together. In that moment, it seemed that they shared a real joy and connection – communicating as children through the shared experience of play with a red ball.

I could only imagine what was really going through his head, but in that one moment I saw a man that had temporarily put aside his problems and was enjoying time with his wife. I was truly moved.

There is nothing more to this, other than to say that life is fragile. When you run your own business, it is far too easy to take family time for granted and to miss out on the truly important moments in life (like a daughter’s Sports Day or School Play). I was inspired this summer to get more time in the garden with the kids, to spend more time enjoying social time and to get out on my bike more often. Not by athletes going for Gold at the Olympics but by a man and his wife, throwing a red ball.