Gathering Momentum

In life, there are times when you feel the Momentum.

On Friday, on a long drive back with my prospective business partner, on the return leg of what was a very good meeting, we talked a little about life, and luck.

We are both firm believers that you make your own luck in life. I remember when I was young, I used to believe in fate, and destiny and co-incidences being too co-incidental. It was only when I completely abandoned my religious side I started to question this bizarre fatalism I had.

I’m not a go-getter by any means. I like to work hard. I like to set myself realistic goals. And I have good self-discipline. But I’m not frantic about it. Not really. It’s like with my current business. I have worked hard at it but grown it organically. I haven’t gone down the route of hard-sell, and making myself feel uncomfortable in the process. I am eager to succeed, but not that eager.

But sometimes in life, things go well, and then more things go well from that, and more things go well from that, and so on. To the disinterested observer, viewing things maybe half way through, they might think that that person was lucky, and not realise just how much hard work went into the whole process to achieve the success along the way.

I like to think that I have started this year well. I am working hard, but not too hard. I am eager for the next step, which I am working on nearly every day with various different bits of the huge jigsaw coming together.

This makes me feel good, and in turn I am looking at events more positively than normal, which in turn makes me keen to do them, and produces better results. It’s a little bit “not me” – but I am making more of an effort this year. It wasn’t anything particularly conscious… it just feels like this is the right time. As I wrote in my opening post of the year, I am excited about what this year might bring, and that in turn has made me optimistic.

It feels like I’m on a roll.

And all this, in a post where I haven’t even considered my own house situation.

My housemate has moved out, having done so last week. This has been a huge weight off my shoulders. I think I can attribute this also to my good mood of late.

Maybe I’ll write more about that next time…

Ed Sheeran – iTunes Festival – 2 September 2012

I still can’t believe how good it was.

The evening started early as we had a bit of travel to do. Getting to London is easy, but doing it with the minimum of cost is not usually reasonable. So we split the difference – me and my guest parked in an outside of London train station, then got the train into town, and the Underground the rest of the way.

We arrived about 6:30pm, and the queue was already pretty long. Still – we didn’t have to wait long and we were inside the Camden Roundhouse. An impressive venue, and very intimate. I’d never been there before… and, to be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever been to a ticketed venue where it was “standing room only”. Amazingly, I’m so glad it was. Not like me at all.

So we got in with plenty of time to spare before the 9pm kick off. The two support acts, Rudimental and Charli XTC were better than expected, especially the latter, who had a real 80s vibe to them. And, I made sure I wasn’t too well hydrated. After all, going for the toilet is a fatal move in amongst a crowd. You can get out, but you can’t get back in…

I was pretty fortunate. I was standing about four rows from the front, and within five minutes of Ed Sheeran starting, a couple of people ahead inexplicably disappeared, and I was in the gap quicker than a rat up a drainpipe. Second “row”. A definite win.

The concert itself was just outstanding. I knew Ed Sheeran’s master trick was the loop pedal, but I didn’t realise how well you could put together a one-man band with one. There are no ends to his talents. Iwas a bit surprised at how outgoing he was, as well. I always thought he’d be quite shy, but there was none of that. He was full of energy, bouncing around, and orchestrating us – the “gospel choir” as he said.

I have to admit to a bit of star-struckness, too. When Ed first emerged, going straight into the sublime Give Me Love – I was so excited I was shaking. I never thought I’d be like that… it soon went, as he made everyone feel so comfortable. You do get the impression you could have a drink with him very easily.

My favourite bit, I think, was when Ed did a cover of Chasing Cars, by Snow Patrol, which is maybe one of my favourite songs of all time. I was pretty chuffed when I worked out what the song was before virtually everyone around me (I’m a musical know-it-all at times, so I have to meet my own high standards!)… and I just had a feeling we were going to get a guest appearance at that point, having been promised one all night. And yes, there it was, Gary Lightbody came out of the darkness to do a duet. It was just brilliant.

The show ended with a more than 10 minute monster mashup rap with a few other guests using the song You Need Me, I Don’t Need You as a starting block. I have to admit it was extraordinarily well done, from a technical perspective, but my tolerance for proper rap like that is not huge. It did generate a massive level of appreciation from the crowd, but I think it went on just a bit too long. My only criticism of the performance. I always prefer singing to rap… cos then I can join in! Rap is more of a “stand in awe” thing…

Talking of joining in, maybe the only other disappointment was that the people standing around me didn’t seem all that interested in participating. I was singing the most of everyone nearby, I’m sure. But other pockets of the crowd were really getting into it. Just not standing in the right place, that was all. I still enjoyed myself!

In the end, all good things had to come to an end… and we made our way back. I hung around for 5 minutes afterwards in the vain hope that he’d come back out for a meet and greet – as he has done on a number of other occasions – but no such luck. Still, I couldn’t have asked for much more after winning free tickets and ending up right at the front. Simply amazing.

In summary: bloody brilliant. I’ve spent all of today going over his tunes now stuck (again) in my head, and watched some of the video I filmed on my phone. It’s pretty crap quality (and is ruined in parts by how crap my own singing has become!) but it’s a good memory I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Thanks, Ed, for a very enjoyable evening. I’ll be looking to buy some tickets on the next tourt, whenever that may be. I missed out for this tour by 10 minutes…

The Luck

Tonight I am going to see a music concert in London. And until Tuesday, I knew nothing about it.

It’s hard to believe it, but I actually won a competition. I’m not one to enter competitions ever, but when I got an e-mail from the Ed Sheeran mailing list about a month ago, I thought “why not!” because the questions were not stupidly easy, and I just had a good feeling about it. I submitted it and forgot about it.

On Tuesday I got an e-mail to tell me I was the winner of a pair of tickets. I was astonished. I was on site working for a client at the time, and I had to keep my excitement bottled up for the rest of the day. But, as is always the way with me, it wasn’t easy to just drop everything and go.

You see, I had had planned for several weeks my next trip home – and it was to be yesterday, coming back on Wednesday. Fortunately, I have rearranged everything, at some expense, but it is well worth it. Fact is, I tried to buy Ed Sheeran tickets when the tour was released, but I wasn’t quick enough and missed out. So for the chance to come back around, when I was prepared to spend £35 in the past, then spending that amount on rearranging tickets doesn’t seem that much really.

I know it will be good, but the tricky aspect is that I will be getting home around 1am, and I have a train to catch for a five hour journey at 9am. So: very little sleep, pack bags, make packed lunch, and then go. Then I’m working on Tuesday all day, followed by a trip back home again on Wednesday. Just as well I’ve had a fairly peaceful afternoon and evening yesterday to relax, cos the next week is going to be a bit mad.

It makes a change to have something nice to do, and something to look forward to. It’s certainly brightened my mood up after how dark it has been lately, brooding over the desperation of wanting to have my own place, and a pretty rubbish summer…

So I’m feeling a bit positive at the moment, for the first time in a while. Just gotta try and keep up the momentum!

Disappointment

My business, and therefore my life (because my life feels like nothing other than my business), is taking some rather disappointing turns lately. Work, measured by quantity, is down. And no obvious reason for it; suddenly, the phone has stopped ringing with genuine callers. There remain enquries of sorts, but many of them are increasingly deciding not to bother with repairs.

Then there is the lack of any progress, any developments at all, on the “big news” front. Before Christmas I had thought that by now I would be striding forward by now, as we had expected a deal to be ready to sign with a big new client. Unfortunately, they are dragging their heels, and I’m starting to think they are about to go elsewhere. Ever the pessimist. I have spent bags of time last week putting together a proposal for another business, and that one has promise, but – again – it could be ages.

Then there has been a sudden spate of things going wrong. Yesterday I had to resolve three issues that were already fixed, but because of bad luck, and maybe a little carelessness on my part, they all came back. I sorted them for good this time, but there’s nothing worse than a retread.

Frankly, I need to move on. Yesterday my patience snapped. I’ve been doing this business now for three years, and though it is in a very good position really, I kinda get the feeling that I’m running out of time. I’ve had this horrible sinking feeling for a few months now, that I am not really going anywhere, and my life is not living up to what I had hoped it would be. Maybe it’s the early mid-life crisis. After all, something must have made me buy a bucket of Lego recently…

I think the other abiding problem I’ve got is where I am. My housemate returned from holiday yesterday, and it has been bliss without him being here. I’m fed up – completely, utterly, totally – living with him. I think it really is time I had my own place. But I can’t do that – financially – until one of these big projects comes in. Housing is not cheap.

Then there is the relative disappointment. On Sunday, I was lucky enough that a friend of mine came to visit. This was a bloody miracle, since a) I have so few friends; and b) the ones I do are all so far away they don’t bother. But for a change, someone did. He has just finished a PhD and is about to emigrate to Switzerland for a few years. He also has a girlfriend, and is seemingly quite pleased with the direction of life. I can say the same, too, for the rest of my tiny friendship circle.

I keep telling myself I shouldn’t compare my life with my peers, but I can’t help it.

Not As Alright As I Thought

When I was younger, one of the things that used to always course through my brain was a rather trusting refrain, “it’ll be alright eventually”.

For some odd reason, I did trust in my own ability. I had total faith that no matter, in the end, my skills and talents would come through, and I would be able to succeed in life almost by default.

Maybe I misunderstood what was around me. For years in school, exam season after exam season came and went, with more and more success. High grades, rising class position, great GCSEs, great A-Levels… it just kept going again and again, and I thought I must have already been doing something right, and therefore all I needed to do was carry on.

When you reach Real Life though, you realise that the correlation of a successful life with good qualification is not very strong at all. Sure, it helps, but far more important are the connections you have, either already garnered, or through your family.

My connections have not been particularly helpful for me. The classic case of a working-class background, a family with no opportunities to get a leg-up from friends and relatives. And yet, the more I do business, the more I realise that connections are what make the world turn.

If I went through my client list, I’d probably be able to attribute at least half of the turnover to connections. But not in the sense that they came from connections in the first place, but more because I had the good fortune to get one customer through normal means (advertising) and then beyond that point it led to many recommendations into numerous different home and business customers. One such connection, starting with a £30 PC repair, gained from an advert in the paper, has since turned into many thousands of pounds of profit. All because that customer just so happened to be in the position to make a business decision to use me in the private school he runs.

Life is life that. A series of connections and co-incidences. They can go in your favour, and sometimes they won’t. When they happen, you have to smile and breathe a sigh of relief. It just went your way. But when they don’t, it’s extraordinarily frustrating. You then might even start to rail about the unfairness of the world, and how if only it was all about talent, experience and price, you would be winning every time, and that would be just perfect.

How naive. We may all want the world to be fair, but it never will be. We are humans. We like shortcuts. We are social, and value the recommendations and input of other people, especially if they’re people we trust implicitly.

I’m getting there. I’m earning lots of connections, many of which I’m starting to use for my own life. And who knows when they’ll be useful to a much greater than they currently are. Maybe when I own my own house, and I’m desperate for someone to help with dodgy guttering…