At the end of each year I have a ritual. LB and I write down what we consider finds of the year. These finds can be anything from a new place for lunch, to a new person who has entered your lives to anything in between. The only requirement is that it made life better during the year. Allied to this I generate a list of things I think I can do better and this list is both long and comprehensive as I am acutely aware of all my own failings. This is not a list of resolutions since they are bullshit and imply that you are starting something for the first time. My list is simply things I can do better. It may be simple physical things such as improve my yoga (which is appalling) to something more metaphysical such as not being such a fly off the handle grumpy bastard. These tasks are all given firm guidelines as to how to achieve them so they are not some wishy washy bollocks such as I want to join a gym and get fit. Each has a set protocol for achieving the stated aim. For example, my be less a prick improvement campaign involves me moving more towards a stoic mindset. For those who don’t know the stoic philosopher Seneca grab yourself a copy of his Letters from a Stoic.
The central tenet of stoicism is that we cannot control external events only our reaction to those events. As such you can see its value for traders. To practice this I have adopted a new attitude to all the road works going on in my area. I might preface this by saying that in the past 18 months I have replaced five tyres on my M3 due to the shit nature of our roads and builders leaving crap all over the road. Ordinarily when I came across roadworks with their accompanying traffic management people waving a Stop/Slow sign at me I would sit there getting ever more grumpy. And if the weather was either blazing hot or pissing with rain I would say to myself that the person holding the sign should have studied harder at school then they wouldn’t be standing out in appalling weather. I am aware that this is a thoroughly uncharitable mindset. My new approach is to wave at them as I go past and it is surprising the number whose faces light up when you do so. I can understand why – I live in a suburb that is populated by wankers in four wheel drives who make me look like a mild mannered saint when it comes to dealing with others. So any deviation from the normal responses they obviously get lighten their day a little and it has a surprising effect on my own mood. So it could be considered a win win.
However my movement towards not being prick nirvana is still very much a work in progress and there are days when it has setbacks. Like everyone else I encounter people who probably should have been beaten to death with a coconut years ago. One of the things about dealing with the general public on a large scale as we do is that tend to come across more dickheads. The relative number of dickheads in society stays the same but sift through more people on a regular basis and the absolute number goes up. A case in point occurred yesterday when we sent out our regular newsletter, as fate would have it the date which was appended to the newsletter was December and not February.
With this in mind consider that it was once suggested that the shortest interval of time known to humans was the time between a light going green and New York taxi driver leaning on their horn urging you to get a move on. I can now beat that.The shortest interval of functional time known to humans is the time between sending out an email with the wrong date on it and someone unleashing a volley of vitriol regarding that simple error. One of the things I am fond of saying is that people betray who they are by the words they use to narrate their interaction with the world. This narration both internal and external frames their world view. Hence it dictates the course of their own lives. It has been my observation that successful people have a different narrative and this narrative powers the way they interact with the world at large. At its centre is the observation that they are not sitting at home waiting for an email with the wrong date to arrive so that they can display their pettiness and lack of impact upon the world to whoever is on the other end of the email.
So Pippa I will leave the last word to US radio personality Howard Stern who pretty much sums up my feelings about you and your ilk. And for those who consider this be a non stoic style of response you are completely correct. But sometimes you just have to let go…..