Gratitude in threes. Serendipity, Bruce and Roma.


Yesterday I wrote the second in a series of posts sharing my ideas around a way to reflect on the year that is coming to completion such that you can truly set up a theme to focus on for 2019.

As part of reflecting on the year just past and before looking ahead to the future, take some practices to bring presence to where you are now.

Today I’ll continue that theme of Presence on where we are today and share three things I am grateful for as I write this on a sunny and crisp winter Sunday morning.

So, gratitude for The Boss, Roma and Serendipity.


That second post was on “Reflections. Where are you today?” and I wrote it on Saturday morning, which I’d thought would be a quiet day after an intense and full week. However, serendipity intervened, and my afternoon involved a lovely walk around a favourite part of London, then a desire to find a pub with a cosy table by a fire. After walking at random and in and out of a few pubs that were busy (some with fires some somehow without what’s that about in the winter ? 😊). Somehow walked into one more pub and the perfect cozy table by the fire. It turned out the pub had only opened the day before after a full refurbishment.

So, I’m grateful for serendipity, and also for my choice to shift from being someone who used to plan life far in advance and in depth and fill the diary, leaving very little space for serendipitous moments.

As I wrote about in “Create Serendipity“, a long musing full of ideas around presence and serendipity, I came up with four ways to create serendipity:

  • Choose new experiences
  • Stretch yourself
  • Be fascinated by people
  • Follow the energy

Trust yourself to follow this path and amazing moments can and will happen. This applies to our personal lives and also in our leadership. Follow these maxims and trust your people and amazing things can happen you’d never have planned.

The Boss

I was the oldest grandchild of my maternal grandfather. He loved classical music, and as a teen I was learning to play classical music on the piano. By around the age of 15, I became fascinated by “hi fi” and saved up money to buy a turntable, amplifier and speakers to play my LPs on. When my family moved back from outside London to Scotland, I stayed behind to one year of boarding school to finish my GCSE exams. It was a really hard year for me for many reasons, but I had my HiFi and my music to listen to on headphones, escaping to my own little world.

Over the next few years, living back in Scotland, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, bonding over HiFi and music. That was ours, a topic just for the two of us. I’d sit in his living room listening to his favourite music on his amazing system with him, then he’d ask me what I heard. You see, a 16 year old has a wider hearing range than a 70 year old, so he knew the amazing fidelity, teh truth of the sound from his system, was lost on him, so my role was to express in words what I heard and felt.

After too short a time, only a few years, he died suddenly. Once the will was settled, I was given a small inheritance of a few hundred pounds. At that time, 1986, I was just turned 21, starting as trainee Chartered Accountant, with barely enough money to pay rent (ok, not enough money to pay rent, I was in debt). I knew instantly, though, that I would honour my grandfather and our relationship. CD players had just become available, so I went straight out and bought one. It was a single tray player from Phillips and cost £300 in 1986, my whole small inheritance.

I then went into a record shop and I saw a new CD release of a triple box set of CDs of Bruce Springsteen live performance from 1975-1985.

I had heard of “The Boss”, but really that was about it, I just thought it was cool to have three CDs as a box set.

I went home, it was the first CD I ever owned, put it in the player, and the first track was Thunder Road. I will always remember that moment. I listened to that one track over and over, and if you’d like to hear me sing Karaoke, pick this track and you will get my voice and all my passion behind it.

Bruce Springsteen is a consummate storyteller. Always has been, always will be.

I am honouring him today by telling you that story of mine.

I’m particularly grateful to Bruce as I write this, as today his Broadway show was released to the world and I have it playing on Netflix as I write. If you love Bruce, watch it, if you’ve never followed him, watch it, he is a gift and treat to the world. He found his purpose and calling at the age of 7 and has followed it for 62 years since with many to come, I hope.

So, I do like things in threes, so my third thing to be grateful for on this wonderful winter Sunday morning.


Alfonso Cuaron is a film director and auteur. I really liked his film Gravity and Sandra Bullock was wonderful in it. However, I adore his film Children of Men, with Clive Owen utterly wonderful in the lead role, with a key moment occurring in the film that cut straight through me to the essence of the father in me.

Today, though, I am grateful for something else around Cuaron. This weekend his new film was released, Roma. I have not watched it as yet, though I will very soon.

I simply know that it will touch me and I shall be grateful.

So, from my expression of gratitude today, perhaps you can connect to three things you are grateful for?

Also published on Medium.

Book a diagnostic meeting

Subscribe for Inspiration, Ideas, Tools

I offer you two newsletters seeking to offer inspiration to action, ideas and tools for leaders.

Open Leadership – Digest
Big Game Advisors – Ideas into Action