The things that matter

The things that matter

As I write I am in my 51st year. The turning of a new decade – whether it be 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 or 100 – is for most of us a natural time for reflection, renewal, and new resolutions.

When I turned 40, I decided to stop living my life in order to please others, and start living my life for myself. And so I left the full-time employment of the corporate world as I pursued my own vision for branding, created a lifestyle that meant I could spend as much time with my kids as possible, and started chasing down the dreams I had always had for myself.

When I turned 50 I patted myself on the back for what I had achieved over the past decade. First, I had survived working for myself. Financially I had scraped through, paid the school fees and my mortgage, and not landed myself in too much debt. Second, I had published the book I always talked about writing, I had realised my dream to do keynote talks on culture, brand and people across Australia, and I had developed a model for branding that was being embraced by large organisations and companies. And third, I managed to do all of this without compromising on who I am. I still turn up to client meetings and presentations with a Don Johnson [Miami Vice] stubble in my jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket – that’s the way I like to roll. It’s real, it’s comfortable, and it’s me.

Yet when I look back at “what really matters”, it’s not the money, the book, the talks, or the jeans and t-shirt. What really matters is framed by the motivation for what I do. And the two things that motivate me are:

1. Be happy, and help others be happy

What really matters are the people who have come up to me and thanked me for making a positive difference to them, and their lives. Sure, I do branding, and I get paid for what I do. Sure, I help organisations reposition themselves and their business for future success. But the real difference I make is to people – individuals, like you and me. I don’t care for companies, sales, performance and results as I care for people.

Hugh Mackay did a report in 2004 titled What Customers Really Want. His headline summary = “At the end of the day people want to feel good about themselves. When that happens they’ll feel better about you too”. I have a ‘feedback’ file in my Mail account, where I store all the feedback I get from people who attend my workshops, seminars and presentations, visit my blog and receive my ‘thought for the week’ emails. This is my folder filled with the stuff that matters – stuff such as “I really love your thoughts of the week, Richard. Bravo. So lovely. They make me feel lighter, every time.” – and this makes what I do worthwhile.

2. I am an enemy of average.

In a world where most people do a seven out of 10 job, I am a declared enemy of average. Because the way I see it, life is too short to not be extra-ordinary, to not be remarkable, to not be awesome. And while we all have off days, moments and projects, I believe that if we always set our sight on being a 10/10 in everything that we do, we will get there more often than not.

My work has been, in the most part, a 10/10. It hasn’t always gone down well. It hasn’t always been approved, accepted or bought. And that’s fine by me — pearls before swines is the expression I think. What matters is that I haven’t sold out by diluting my work and compromising my self. I have stopped sucking on the lollipop of mediocrity, and for that I am proud.

As you think back over the past few years – or as you think ahead – what are the things that really matter to you? Know this, and everything else don’t mean shit 🙂


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