Back in 2003 I think it was, I was on a Virgin plane travelling to NY and reading Richard Branson’s book ‘Losing my Virginity’ I’m generally crap at getting beyond the first few pages of a book, but I had 5 hours to kill and this book totally grabbed me. It had quite an honest account of some of the pitfalls of Richard Branson’s business and a few of his make or break moments, like when he had to sell Virgin Music and early on in Virgin Atlantic’s career when his bank asked for a £50million loan to be returned as a recession kicked in. He had to find the money from another bank over the weekend or the airline would go bust by the next weekend. And he did! He got another bank on board after several requests were turned down! There was something about how he went about stuff that grabbed me. Business is all about how having the right attitude – Richard Branson seems to be the master of it.
Back then I was a startup trying to get my business off the ground and looking for inspiration – that book certainly gave me heaps of it! Roll on 15 years and I find myself reading Richard Branson’s blog and he’s talking about a whole load of rather hippy / Buddhist concepts such as mindfulness and ‘be’ ing not ‘do’ing so much. This surprised me for a guy who is still a Chairman of 200 businesses – how can he not be run off his feet? Instead we’ve all seen pics of Richard Branson kite surfing on his island – Neckar and shots of him hanging out on aeroplane wings with Kate Moss etc how can he have time to just ‘be?’ And what does it even mean!? I went about trying to understand this concept more and soon found myself appreciating stuff in a different way. We are all built around a belief system that doing stuff – whether it’s work or diy in the house or making an effort with other members of the human race – we are always doing – otherwise we are lazy and won’t get anywhere right!? ‘Be’ is about sitting back and seeing stuff around you, in a slightly different light. It’s about taking the time to be in this world not running through it all the time. Richard Branson talks about appreciating the world around him – sitting at the dinner table with his kids, looking at the stars, lessening to the waves crashing around him. And what’s the result of all this apart from relieving a bit of stress etc? Well it’s certainly puts you in a better place creatively!
- I found myself struggling a bit to remember to do it, if when I do I think I now at least not telling myself off for not doing – I am trying acknowledge the state of being – perhaps something I should have done a long long time ago!
Here’s a TED talk which hopefully explains the phenomenon a little bit better than I have!