Looking back at 2016 – 10 things that make me smile

Xmas 2016 Awaken CommunicationsLet’s face it, it really has been a bonkers year. I’m not sure if David Bowie’s death at the start of January was meant to be a sign of impending madness, as well as sadness, but looking back, it sure feels like that now.

So, what are we meant to conclude from our end of year reflections?  How do we make sense of everything that has gone on in the world? How do we give ourselves comfort in these “troubled times” (a commonly heard phrase of the moment)?

Without wishing to appear flippant or selfish, I’ve got three suggestions: Firstly, don’t feel you must make sense of it all. Stuff happens and sometimes we just need to get on with it.

Secondly, I’m reminded of one of my favourite cricket field mantras: take care of your own game. Taking care of your own game, does not mean you play selfishly. On the contrary, it means you do the best for your workmates, friends and family by being the best you can be. That’s all we can ever be totally in control of.

Thirdly, remind yourself of at least ten things that made you smile this year. Here are mine, mixed between the personal and the professional. A bit self-indulgent, but hey it’s Christmas:

  1. Taking my son for auditions to acting school. I’m jealous, excited and in awe, in equal measure.
  2. Watching my daughter apply for her industrial placements, while doing what little I can to help her. She really is in the driving seat now.
  3. Seeing a copy of my wife’s fourth published novel in airport bookshops. I think she remains a little sceptical, given I’ve still not read it (romantic fiction just isn’t my thing!), but I really am her no. 1 fan.
  4. Booking a cottage next summer to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday with three generations in attendance. Wonder if we’ll do her 90th with four?
  5. Being part of a great team that delivered a fantastic Fireworks event to the community of Tring and raised a ten-figure sum to support sport in the local area. It was  also heartening to be able to link the event to a campaign to help a brave young boy named Ollie Gardner, who is battling cancer. Ollie’s appearance to light the bonfire was the highlight of the show.
  6. Completing my training in the personality profiling tool Emergenetics. Not sure if that means I can legitimately claim to “look inside your brain”, but it is fascinating, and an element of personal development in 2016 that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
  7. Completing a handbook on Internal Communications on behalf of Cambridge Marketing College. Great marketing definitely starts on the inside.
  8. Reading Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. A brilliant, thought provoking book. How much better would the world be if we could eradicate closed loop thinking and spread the culture of learning from mistakes, that has characterised the aviation world?
  9. Completing a culture and values tour of eight US iFLY tunnels within the space of eight days. The iFLY team members I met during the tour were no less inspiring than the aforementioned book.
  10. Working with Matt, Tim, Julie and Jon to produce great work for Awaken clients and students. Truly talented people, who I’m fortunate to have as great friends too.

Perhaps this  will encourage you to think of what made you smile this year? I hope so. Merry Christmas. Brace yourself for 2017, the ride will remain a bumpy one.

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