"I could not, at any age, be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. The fatal thing is rejection. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life."
Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962
"If you are not getting as much from life as you want to, then examine the state of your enthusiasm."
Norman Vincent Peale, 1898-1993
A post by a connection on LinkedIn referring to a newspaper story in an Irish paper about climate change got me thinking this afternoon. I have become a bit of a fatalist about this issue so I decided to write a comment about it. However it grew to be a bit longer than originally intended so I decided to post it on the Sirelark blog too.
I've come to the conclusion that the human race cannot avoid a disaster of a certain magnitude. Every civilisation has after a time either self-destructed or been destroyed by a natural event; that will happen to ours too, but how and when? Will it be climate change? It's possibly the commonest cause of civilisation death, so why would ours be immune?
I imagine many think we are different due to advances in technology and knowledge. But societal extinction can occur despite the recognition of impending disaster, even if the exact causes were unknown or disputed.
Is it because the human race is hard-wired to be materially and intellectually selfish and therefore ineffective in the face of catastrophe? And why are so many compelled to stare in awe at a retreating shoreline before a tidal wave hits, rather than leave everything behind and run like hell?
If we have caused climate change, reducing the intensity of a disaster requires each person to make independent sacrifices and leaders to lead by example, with honesty and altruistically.
I see little evidence of this, so it seems inevitable that the natural world will be radically different sooner than we would believe.
Are you one of those under the spell of a retreating shoreline? What are you doing now to prepare and protect your business and family?
To be nobody but yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
E. E. Cummings 1894-1962 English Poet
I have just started reading a book that I first read when my son was a toddler in the early 2000s. It had a profound affect on me then and the first words I read (quoted above) had a similar impact on Saturday. These prophetic words left me feeling quite melancholic about the future of our planet.
While this is fundamentally a book about how a proud and intelligent indigenous peoples who were subject to what can only be described as a programme of genocide, it is also about the native peoples' relationship with with the land on and off which they lived, and the plants, creatures, air and water they relied on to survive. They had apparently been doing so in relative harmony for many thousands of years before the Europeans arrived.
As time goes on, the question of who was right about the risks of rapid ecomomic growth becomes a little easier to answer.
I am looking forward to recalibrating my views about sustainability as I progress through it.
Some years ago my father bought me a couple of books full of quotes by amazing people to lift the soul, encourage the reader to reflect on how amazing each one of us is, and what we are all capable of if we have the right (positive) attitude to life and to each other.
It felt the right time to dig them out again, considering what I and my family have been through recently, what the country is going through and the political and environmental crises the world appears to be faced with.
It could be argued that the world desperately needs some positive thoughts at the moment, and as Boris Johnson proved last night and Greta Thunberg a few days ago, words can be very powerful indeed.
Now I am by no means a wordsmith and shan't pretend to be (I am merely a humble risk adviser and insurance broker), so I am happy to defer to some very smart people who have done more than most to shape the world we live in.
I started my insurance broking business earlier this year. It followed a period in my life which had serious repercussions well beyond the walls of my home and beyond my capacity to predict. The outcomes have been both good and bad, perhaps even euphoric and catastrophic, in equal measure.
Throughout it all I tried to remain positive, think through my challenges clearly and patiently, and act boldly and decisively. Sometimes I took the right decison and sometimes not. Sometimes I executed well and sometimes less so. Sometimes precious funds were well spent, sometimes not. Sometimes I listened to the right people and sometimes to the wrong people.
Throughout I tried to bring my family and friends with me on the journey as best I could and I tried to be humble enough to know when I needed help and to be smart enough to ask the right people for it.
Above all else, the one thing that I have been utterly amazed by and will be eternally grateful for, is the kindness of a whole host of people towards my family and I throughout this period. You all know who you are and if you are reading this, I want you to know that I shall never forget.
But perhaps the most powerful action I could personally take was to simply try to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To keep making some sort of progress.
And it does feel like I'm making good progress and my vision of the future is once again clear and bright. In fact I'd say I now feel better about my professional life and where it's going than I have for many, many years.
I am obviously very keen for it to stay that way, so I need to keep the momentum going. That is why I have dug out these two books. I have decided to pick one or two quotes each week to read and think about. And I figured if they help me, then they might also help others, so why not share them.
And perhaps in a blog designed primarily for posts about risk and insurance, some thought provoking quotes about life morals and the importance of a positive attitude will help balance things out a little!
Here's the first quote. I hope it resonates and provides food for thought.
"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
Albert Einstein, 1879-1955
With special thanks to my son Jonathan who was a great help lugging stuff from the car we moved in yesterday without hitch.
Upon settling in, it immediately felt that the right decision had been made to take the plunge into commercial premises earlier than planned.
Fuel Studios is a great place for a small business like Sirelark to establish, evolve and grow and we can see ourselves in the building for many years to come as there is space to grow here.
Its location in Norwich is central with several car parks in close proximity and only a modest walk from Norwich train station.
For partners, clients and friends who wish to visit, there are plenty of locations and space for meetings, both of a private nature and less formal gatherings.
The owner of the property has clearly invested a fair amount of money into making Fuel Studios arguably the best office environment in Norwich for SMEs, so it is nice to be in a position to reward that investment in a small way. Looking forward to many happy and prosperous years here!