There was a time when I was too busy for anything that was not directly connected with my career, except perhaps for some blocked time on weekends when one was either obliged to go shopping or spend time with the family. Apart from those occasions, every other minute of my life had to be categorized, optimized, and allocated a place in my agenda.  I woke up to the alarm of my personal digital assistant telling me where to go, who to call and what to do. And this went on for years.

It’s not something I am proud of but I do not regret it either. I had fun filling my time with important things. The week before last I had a few days off, no flights to check into or fancy hotels to check out of, just time at home in the garden. Two days of sawing logs and splitting them with an axe and then stacking them in the woodshed ready for the winter of 2019. (I have enough wood until then and it needs to age anyway).
Last weekend, when I should have been writing speeches and catching up with the backlog of emails from my holiday, I decided to spend another day in the garden, this time picking up sticks (the small ones that are perfect for lighting fires).  I know it doesn’t make sense. I know I could buy them ready bagged for a fraction of what I could theoretically earn while gathering them. But the sun was shining and it had been very windy the night before, so there they were just lying on the ground ready to be gathered and snapped into the right length ready for the woodstove.
And all the while, I reflected on years past. I also thought about my clients today and their needs. I thought about my Associates and their concerns too. And now my wood shed is totally full, not only with the big, high value, oak logs that provide the real warmth but also with the worthless little twigs that play a vital role converting the energy of one matchstick into the crackle of oak filling our home with warmth and random patterns of light.
Picking up sticks might not be important for some, but it cleared my head and helped put into perspective the challenges ahead of me. Oh yes, and some of the time I was listening to a BBC podcast of four academics discussing the philosopher Plato’s Symposium.  Food for the brain, wonderful stuff!
Have a good week