Three treasures

I was listening to the radio recently, and heard an interview with Clare Bowditch, who was describing her three most treasured objects as part of a running series in the Guardian Australia.

It got me thinking what I might say if asked the same question.

How does this relate to leadership you might ask? Maybe it doesn’t, but taking time to reflect on what’s important to you, and particularly the ‘why’, is a key part of gratitude, which is shown to be a powerful tool in increasing well-being and mental health.

I’m going to ignore those who are now thinking you shouldn’t be grateful for ‘things’, and you should be grateful for your health, or the fact you’ve got a roof over your head, food on the table. Of course you should be grateful for those, I couldn’t agree more. I wouldn’t shed a tear if the three things I’ve listed burned to the ground in a house fire but my family made it out safe.

This is really just an exercise in taking time to appreciate the small things, and a fun thing to think about on a sunny afternoon. So what are my three most treasured objects?

My 1965 Fastback Mustang

Is this thing a luxury? Of course it is. No one needs a 1965 Mustang, but for me it’s a regular reminder of the importance of having something to work towards, a goal. If you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, take a look at this post, and scroll down to Sabotage.

A year or so ago, my wife and I had a fantastic kid-free weekend in a place called Broke, in Australia’s Hunter Valley. We had a fantastic lunch at Mount Wilson, and took the back roads from there to the little place we were staying in. As we were driving, I asked my wife how she was going….”Well it’s a bit uncomfortable, it’s pretty loud, and there’s a fairly strong smell of petrol”.

I grinned back at her – “I know! It’s awesome isn’t it?!!”

Driving it is a visceral experience. It is a bit loud, it does occasionally take a while to start, it leaks when it rains, and the seats are a bit uncomfortable, but for me that’s the exact purpose of the damn thing. It’s an experience.

I’m not going to say driver and machine are ‘at one’ with each other because this is clearly nonsense. It’s a big dumb chunk of American iron not a pacemaker, however every. single. time. I get into it, I smile.

And surely that’s enough.

My Chatbooks App

Yes, an app is one of my most treasured objects. Well, not really the app itself, but what arrives in the letterbox every few months because of the app.

We all live on our phones these days. You could well be on it right now. Thank you for being here by the way – I know you could be spending these 4 minutes gawking at TikTok. We use our phones to capture hundreds, if not thousands of photos every year, and promptly do nothing with them except the occasional flick through when waiting for the bus.

Chatbooks (and hundreds of other apps like it) is a service where you upload photos from your phone, they get printed into a little book and sent to your house in the post. Every few months I’ll spend an hour scrolling through my photos and knock up an order. A few weeks later the book arrives, and as I’ve usually forgotten I’ve placed the order, it makes for a pleasant surprise indeed!

We get the cheapest option, being a 6″ x 6″ softcover book, and now have quite the collection.

Because the books are small, it’s easy every now and again to just pick one up and flick through it. Again, it’s a gratitude thing – being able to look back at all the fun times we’ve had as a family, nice photos of the kids with their grandparents and everything in between makes for a fabulous distraction for 5 minutes.

These are the modern version of the old school hard-copy photos stuck in an album, and for us, very much treasured (and well used) keepsakes.

Signed copy of Extreme Ownership

It’s a tattered First Edition, full of sticky notes and hand mark-ups, I lost the dust jacket a week after I bought it, there’s a few ripped page, and there’s a giant red Sharpie scrawl on the front, and it’s one of my most treasured possessions.

The Sharpie scrawl is a signed note from one of the author’s, and there’s another hand written note on the inside from the other – which I sheepishly lined up for at a 2-day leadership event they ran in December 2019. Almost a year later and it still feels like yesterday – the event, not the sheepish lining up.

I’ve written before about the impact this book and its authors have had on my life, both as a Project Manager and human. I’ve bought at least a dozen copies of it for team members and can’t recommend it highly enough.

I should do a review of it sometime, and share it’s 12 guiding principles which I try my best to exemplify every day.

Why is it on my list? Well apart from being a genuinely good book, for me it is a marker in time. The point whereby after reading it, my leadership journey really took off, and I had finally found a philosophy which resonated with me. I regularly take it off the shelf and flick to some of the sticky notes. The lessons are simple, but not always easy, yet every single one is as powerful now as it was when I first read it.

Actually I might shed a tear if this one was burned to a crisp.

So that’s it, my current Top 3 most treasured items and the reasons why. We know taking time to be grateful is an important part of taking care of your well-being and overall mental health. Being that 10 October is Mental Health Day, take some time to have a think about what you’re grateful for. It could be objects or possessions like I’ve described above, or it could be your oldest friend who has moved overseas but with who you still maintain an unbreakable connection. Have a think, write them down, share them – or not. It’s a personal thing and whichever way you choose, I hope your list makes you smile – because isn’t that what it’s all about?

Stay safe, stay healthy, be grateful, and get after it!

If you’ve got any comments, suggestions, or want to share one or more of your most treasured items, drop a note in the Comment box below!

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