Category Archives: Success

Pick your DNA. Before DNA picks you.

What’s going to happen to the world the day after you’re gone?

Whoa. Back up.

Do you care what happens to the world the day after you’re gone?

I meet a lot of people who are just drifting through life. Trying to stay out of trouble. Avoiding any kind of impact, good or bad, on anyone. Marking time at their jobs until they can retire, put their feet up, and “finally start living”.

One chap last year told me he had one year left to work.

“What will you do then?” I asked. “As little as possible” came the reply.

My prediction? He won’t last long.

Or, he’ll find himself henpecked and harried by those around him, who will happily use the time that he won’t.

He’ll be wondering how he ever found the time to work before. Almost every retiree I meet says that.

A car without an engine is a rusting hulk. The scrapyard beckons.

The only reason for the car, in fact, is to allow the engine, and you, to get around.

Human beings are not a true lifeform.

DNA is the lifeform. We’re all just carriers for our DNA.

Every human being is just another experiment being run by DNA. What, that person crashed and burned. Whoops, I guess that experiment was a failure. Let’s not repeat that one.

But there’s a twist.

A gold nugget that most people never learn:

You get to change your DNA.

Disclaimer: I’m not sure how true this is physically. I’m no geneticist. Although I am reading an increasing amount about how you apparently can switch certain of your genes on/off by your behaviour.

But mentally? You can alter, choose, change, adapt, tweak your mental and psychological DNA.

Most people never do.

Their DNA is, Survive. Stay alive. This life is a crock. Survive until tomorrow. Hang on until I retire. Life sucks, then you die.

They’re really just acting as carriers for other people’s DNA. Their own DNA forfeited the match and left town.

Last month, while in Toronto, I had an encounter I won’t forget in a hurry.

Pastor G, as he’s always been labelled, is Gerald Griffiths. Good old Welshman. With a name like that, what else could he be.

He inherited the label from his wife, Mrs G, the storyteller.

He a career clergyman, she a great storyteller. So great, in fact, that she started recording them and shipping them around the world to pastors and teachers in far-flung places where education was hard to come by. It turned into a tidy little business called A Visit with Mrs G.

Mrs G is gone now, but Pastor G was one day shy of ninety-six, and he stood and talked with me at the back of the church for twenty minutes.


For twenty minutes.

If he was in any pain or discomfort, he showed none. Seen many 96-year-olds stand for more than 60 seconds?

He’s a bit hard of hearing, and slightly stooped, but that’s it. His eyes are unchanged. Dark. Focused.

His eyes lock on you, and you realize very quickly: He’s on you. You have his full attention. He is listening.

And his mind? Razor-sharp.

I had not seen him since he officiated at my wedding 27 years ago. That had been his last official act as church pastor before retiring.

Retiring. Yeah, right.

He hasn’t retired.

“I’ve got five projects on the go. You know about the church in China? It’s an adult church, because the authorities make it difficult to teach the Bible to childen. But that’s changing. So we have to equip the people to be Sunday school teachers. We’re translating Mrs G recordings into e-books and podcasts and sending them over via the net. That’s just the biggest project, but there are four besides. What’s your email address? Here, jot it down for me. You used to work in wind engineering, didn’t you? How are those chaps that you used to room with? Are they still in the faith? Where in the UK are you? What do you make of Theresa May? I wish she’d do away with Boris Johnson, he’s a loose cannon.”

And with that, he walked away. Unaided. No cane, no wheelchair.


Met many 96-year-olds with an email address? Who know what an e-book is? A podcast?

That, folks, is great DNA. My mind was blown.

Note to self: Be like this when I’m 96. When I’m 106.

This engine is waaaaaay oversized. Well maintained, purring like a cat. It will eventually blow the body and chassis apart, but he doesn’t care. He’s tied up with the engine. He isn’t him, he’s the DNA.

What’s your DNA?

In the 1960’s, a young man, just graduated from Cambridge law school, returned to his island home and found it in political turmoil. The federal government resented the islanders, and declared them all persona non grata.

They didn’t want independence, it was forced on them.

The island had loads of disadvantages. Mostly uneducated peasants. A history of ethnic conflict. High population density. No natural resources. Hot, humid climate.

Only three advantages.

(1) Strategic location for trading.

(2) Human brains. Lots of ‘em. Uneducated, undeveloped, but loads of potential.

(3) One local bloke with a decent education, vision, optimism, natural leadership, and loads of pluck.

Go check the place out today.

Lee Kuan Yew had great DNA. Singapore punches waaaaaay above its weight.

When the Boxing Day tsunami hit Aceh and Phuket, the Singapore navy and air force scrambled. Ships sailed and aircraft flew in aid.

The tsunami-affected governments had two reactions:

(1) Gratitude. Obviously. They needed the help.

(2) Shock and fear. Who are these guys? Where did Singapore get this military capacity? The puny little flyweight we cut adrift fifty years ago is a potential threat. Living next door. Damn.

Lee Kuan Yew saw it all in his mind long before it happened. He had a vision for what his little island home could be. Even after he was gone.

Have you picked your DNA yet?

If you don’t pick your DNA, someone else’s DNA will pick you.

What your mind can imagine, you can create. What you do not imagine, never happens.

The joy of uncomfortable conversations

I made a cool discovery this year.

Or more accurately, made a cool re-discovery.

Success is a function of your willingness to have uncomfortable conversations.

Last week, I quit my contract job. Without another one to go to.

I had been working flat out for a year, with only a couple of short breaks. My mental health was suffering. I wasn’t enjoying the work at all. My weekends were spent recovering from the week, just in time to go back in for more punishment Monday morning.

A confluence of unexpected family circumstances meant that, if I quit before the end of the contract, I’d be able to recharge, do some much-needed DIY around the house, and enjoy a holiday with my youngest daughter before she shoots off to start university.

And I’d be able to rethink what I do, and why I do it. I’d have some time to write posts like this one.

I had to bid farewell to colleagues I’d been working with for a year. One or two of them, I’d grown quite fond of.

A voice in my head was saying, Are you nuts? Continue reading

How much is your time worth?

There’s more than one answer to this question, of course.

$50 per hour? £600 per day? 5000 rupees per day?

It’s worth specifying a rate, because then you’ll have something to shoot for, and a ready means of deciding if that latest job posting is really going to help you achieve your financial goals.

On another level, however, specifying a rate is a foolish move.

Because the flip side of the question is, How much is my life worth? (Answer: My life is priceless.) Continue reading

Today, I am (insert positive feature)

In the middle of the night, I woke up thinking (as you do), Aaahh, when I finally get that business successful and have made my fortune, I’ll be the articulate, self-confident I’ve always wanted to be.

Almost immediately, an authoritative, almost smirking voice in the back of my head said, Are you sure?

I did not grow up as a supremely self-confident, high-energy individual.

On the contrary. I was a shy, geeky, bespectacled, rake-thin teenager, with terrible self-esteem. (I would learn much later that my parents similarly had terrible self-esteem, so they couldn’t exactly correct my thinking.) Continue reading

They Shouldn’t Teach You This in School

Here’s a cool site: They Don’t Teach You This in School. Articles and short videos by people, some famous, some not, each expressing what they wish they had learned a lot earlier. All of them very inspiring and motivational.

It’s a site created by a 17-year-old. Mighty impressive. I wonder what he’ll post on it in 30 years’ time?

Can’t help but wonder, though, if there should be a sister site, They Shouldn’t Teach You This in School?

It should include the following:

Continue reading

One thing at a time. And only one.

An old friend asked on Facebook a few months ago:

“What’s your recipe for success?”

And in one of those rare moment when you have a flash of brilliant insight, and you manage to snare it before it flutters away, I posted back:

  1. Dream Really, Really Big
  2. Start
  3. Finish

I dumped it on the page very quickly, without giving myself any chance to pause and regret my actions. And as I stared back, I realised the truthful simplicity of it.

Continue reading