#127: Preparing for the present moment, life lessons from business growth, and a question for you to ponder

One thought from me: Consciously planning for the moments that matter

We plan for many things. We plan holidays, we plan car hires or purchases, we plan car repairs or home maintenance.

But for some of the most important things, we are often too content not to plan at all, but just expect that we will recognise them and do the right thing when they arrive.

This is a dangerous approach. It may work, but equally, it may happen that those moments pass by without us noticing, or just as bad, we notice them when they’ve gone, and regret that we didn’t approach it a little differently.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can sit down and consciously plan to be present when the moments that matter come along. And unlike car repairs or home maintenance or holiday planning, it doesn’t need any money and it takes only a regular dedication of even a few seconds of conscious thought and presence to prepare ourselves to be ready for them.

Everything in life is geared towards the small moments that matter.

Last night, a warm, quiet, clear August Friday night in Ireland, I was fortunate to be able to lie down on the dew-wet grass as the night sky darkened and the salt-spill vastness of the starry universe appeared above us.

I’d seen a shooting star the night before, and read that on clear, warm nights in the northern hemisphere in August, the Perseids are often visible.

From the website almanac.com:

Meteors occur when Earth rushes through a stream of dust and debris left behind by a passing comet (the Swift-Tuttle comet, in the case of the Perseids). When the bits strike Earth’s upper atmosphere, friction with the air causes each particle to heat and burn up. We see the result as a meteor. See more facts about meteor showers. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every August, and its fame comes from the fact that it reliably has the brightest and most numerous meteors. Even if the viewing conditions aren’t the best, you’re likely to spot some meteors during the maximum nights of the Perseid meteor shower.

I’d told our kids, and they stayed up late, and in their jackets and pyjamas and welly boots they lay down on the grass beside me, and we saw about ten meteors, including one or two dazzlingly bright shooting stars that left a wispy white trail in their wake.

There’s no doubt that the me of five years ago would have been too preoccupied with a million other (less important) things to have even noticed the possibility for this moment, but these few minutes were the highlight of my year. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do this, and grateful to be able to notice the gift that is the present moment.

[If you’re reading this the week it’s written and you’d like to catch the meteor shower for yourself, you still have time — the Perseids peak between August 11th and 13th, 2020]

One thought from someone else: On business growth, and nature, and life

From a real value perspective, infinite growth just does not make sense. It is the optimal, not the maximum size that counts. In the optimum, economies of scale and efficiency advantages are used to a certain extent, but not to the detriment of the deeper, emotional value that the organization can still create for its customers, employees, and partners. That’s actually how growth works in nature. No doubt, plants and creatures have to grow to survive — but only until they reach the optimal size that their species needs to thrive. Beyond that point, they may grow in complexity, in experience, or in wisdom. They may still embark on a qualitative growth path, but they no longer grow in size. Unchecked growth only occurs when a natural system gets out of control. For instance, in the case of unstoppable cell growth, we have a name for this phenomenon — cancer.

This is from a powerful little book called Digging Deeper: How Purpose-Driven Enterprises Create Real Value by three authors, Dietmar Sternad, James J. Kennelly and Finbarr Bradley. I interviewed Finbarr on one of the earliest episodes of my podcast.

One question for you

Where in your life are you trying to grow just for the sake of appearance, or for the sake of growth itself?