I was shocked at a conversation I heard the other day – especially as it was me speaking at the time!

I was surprised at what I was hearing because I hadn’t realised before that this was how I felt. I found out my own opinion about something only when I heard myself telling someone else what it was!

Let me try to explain….

At a posh dinner recently I found myself talking with another guest and finding myself enthralled with his sheer passion and joie de vivre. Indeed I soon recognised how animated my own speech had become and pretty soon we were having a conversation that I can only describe as ‘deep and meaningful’. (In case you’re wondering, I was the nominated driver that night.)

Suddenly I came out with a remark that summed up how my life had changed so positively in the last few years – it’s just that I don’t think I’d recognised it until that moment when I said it.

To paraphrase, I felt that the long years of recession had been crippling financially but, in every other way, living through them had been an incredibly positive experience.

What? How can that be? How can not making the money you once did be deemed a success?

Oh sure, for years I’d talked about not being materialistic. I would often describe the day I was a passenger in a helicopter being piloted by the owner, one of three aircraft he owned. We radioed the airfield for permission to land but were told to remain in position and allow a ‘Jetranger’ to our starboard to come in first. As the jet-engined helicopter whistled past my window I heard a sigh in my earphones: “Aah a Jetranger – I’d love one of those….”

That experience, I would tell people, taught me to be happy with what I had and not forever to chase the next bigger or better gadget. Or did it?

When I look back at what I used to deem essential in my cars pre-recession compared to now it’s clear that I’m somewhat more realistic these days. The two cars we currently own cost less to buy than the options alone on my 2007 purchase!

A friend surprised me recently when she said “I always thought you were the best-dressed person I know” and I suppose in my work-wear I was fairly particular.

But surely, the external trappings of success are essential in business aren’t they? People won’t take you seriously without the right badge on your car will they?

Thing is, after several years of overcoming the challenges of this recession I’m a better person and my business is a better business. I know what my values are and I’ve found out that I’ve got skills I was totally unaware of.

Amazingly I’ve been given opportunities I never expected and I’ve achieved things I didn’t think I was capable of. People have seen things in me that I didn’t know were there and have given me challenges that I’ve risen to. I now see new opportunities for my business in areas I’d never dreamed of.

Amazingly, none of these great things have happened because I’ve been wearing an expensive suit or driving a shiny new car.

Let’s face it, we’ve nearly all had a bad time recently and I’ve seen similar changes in colleagues, clients and friends and I think no less of them for down-sizing or making economies in their businesses. It’s almost as though the whole country has shed its superficiality. We look for strength and integrity in depth and we’re no longer impressed by the superficial.

Men who are no longer shallow? In the words of Jeremy Clarkson: “And on that bombshell…”

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