Island Blog – Innovator Generation

For all that we might berate the ways in which our lives are susceptible, nay wide open to corruptive influences, we should also notice and admire the benefits of that wide openness for it teaches us. Everything teaches us, both the perceived good and the perceived bad if we acknowledge that nothing is as it seems viewed from our own limitations of fear. Yes, there is ‘bad’ out there but there is far more good. This visibility also allows us to see further, look deeper and accept our small place in a very big world. We might be tempted to hide from being so seen and I am not saying this is wrong, not at all if it is mindfully considered, but if it comes from a place of fear, we are forgetting to love, to love the way our young are finding their stumbling way along paths we have never walked, at least not as young innovators. We might remember that we were just that once, recalling the tuts and the warnings of our own elders and so-called betters whilst dancing off into what, hippiehood? reckless decisions? risk taking? And more, and more.

This day at midday on Radio Four, You and Yours, my son Ruari is being interviewed. From oil broker to One year No Beer entrepreneur, founding a business to encourage and support anyone wanting to cut down or quit alcohol, risking everything, he and his wife are finally finding recognition and I am so very proud of their passion and their determination. It has been a rocky road, and still is, the one they have chosen. Losing the income they enjoyed, moving home more than once, building on through Covid when the consumption of alcohol elevated considerably according to stats, when nobody wanted to think beyond just coping with the restrictions, the fears, the tension, they persisted, changed shape, adapted, kept going. I have followed every step and I feel nothing but admiration. To stand for something you really believe in and then to walk away from comfort and predictability in order to lead from the front takes a great deal of courage and then to keep walking out front as followers fall away presents a test many would fail. This isn’t working. Where is everyone? But they didn’t give up. They kept walking and now their followers number thousands and worldwide. Wild tundra is being tamed, not from the desire to control, to develop for personal gain but from a passion for people, a belief in the individual’s ability to rise from circumstances as a powerful game changer.

I wax lyrical on this in order to show the good side of wide openness. Without social media, without vulnerability, this entrepreneur would have struggled to gain such recognition. In my days of no television, bad radio reception, no Facebook, instagram and other animals, how could it rise in the way it has? It would have taken decades had it been limited to the paths well travelled. Yes there is risk out there as I know all too well, but without risk and the opportunities that come with it, it is impossible to discover the extent to which we can adapt whilst still moving forward. Fear is a killer as we know. Instead of retreating behind our protective walls, saying nonsense things like “It was better in our day,’ we might take a moment to seek the good in this generational change. And, when we do this seeking thingy we will amaze ourselves. I write a list at times when I am confounded and afraid of wide openness and as I note a negative, I consider the positive aspect of that perceived negative. It laughs me because one comes almost immediately. I decide I have a choice about how I see what I see. It takes brainwork, yes. It can feel almost impossible at times but I am determined to employ my innate intelligence, to thwack the sleepy dwarf into a tall and wide open woman, to stretch those mental limbs, to flex, to look around at the very big world, one I am more than happy to be a tiny part of.

Good or bad? Retreat or walk forward in vulnerability? Learn or refuse to listen? The choice is yours.

Island Blog – Birthday Hallelujah

This day my wild son Ruari turns 40. Nobody, especially he himself, ever imagined he would make it thus far. He was bent on self-destruction from the get-go. Risks were normal for him. Frying bacon at the big hot Aga at 4 am, stark naked, aged 2, and balanced precariously on a chair I had no idea he could even shift, never mind climb on to. He was making us a surprise breakfast. He would think nothing of setting fire to anything that took his fancy, or climbing onto the highest roof and, once, shinning up a lamppost in the centre of Edinburgh after a boozy dinner, all the way to the top, like a monkey. My eyes rarely stopped rolling around him and my heart was always in a state of turmoil, because whatever came next never entered the heads of anyone else. It was too dangerous, after all, but not for him.

Now look at him! Shortlisted for Entrepreneur of the Year Uk, married to a beautiful, feisty and very tall Viking and with two lovely wee daughters; launching a global business that innovates and supports any who choose to leave alcohol behind and thus to become fitter, happier, healthier. Check out OneYearNoBeer to see for yourselves. I am so very proud of him and not just because of what he has achieved, but of how he has turned his whole life around; how, through walking his own talk, he has generated a huge following of all ages who were lost once, and are no more. There is no greater leadership. Experiential wisdom cannot be bought, nor learned like a script. We do not follow a talker. We follow one who is leading by example.

I wish him another 40 years. Who can say where his lunatic road will lead? I am happy to say he is considerably less reckless these days although I know that light in his eyes, the one that twinkles like the North Star, the one that tells me he is still the wild child and always will be. Delivering a child so unique and impossible, so fast and so enterprising may sound like the most wonderful thing, but it had its consequences. I was never not worried about what he was up to, or planning to be up to, and he was baby number 4. But, despite all the eruptions and chaos he brought to bear, that fabulous face, that gloriously cheeky grin could, and still does, melt my mother heart. I could see, as could his dad, the extraordinary talents he was born with and we both wrung our hands as we agonised about the chances he had of living to this age. We knew that, given the right protection and the right guides, this child would rise to stardom, hopefully feeling happy and proud of who he is. We just had to wait and see, like all parents of a genius.

I honour him. I also honour the beautiful, feisty, very tall Viking, for without her, he may well have spiralled off into the stratosphere. She through love and support has helped him to grow into himself. I don’t know if he likes himself now. I don’t know many of us who do like ourselves. But I can feel a peace around him these days, a confidence born from his own self belief, one no longer rooting from the naysayers, the bullies, the neglectful teachers, the cruel bosses. He is becoming his best self.

I know his dad would have been so happy for this day. He would have growled out a happy birthday song and he would have told this crazy boy how very proud he is of him. As am I.