Looking for inspiration? Try looking closer to home.

Preparing to eat medicinesIt’s been a tough week.  3 long hard days carrying out interviews on site for a client to assess just how low staff morale is.  That was a barrel of laughs.  Combine that with a heavy cold (flu, of course, I’m a  man after all), poor sleep (my wife has the cold too, so we took it in turns to wake each other up with coughs and sneezes), and stress about my Father’s well being, and your source of weekly inspiration, dear reader, might be deemed to have dried up somewhat.

So I’m sitting here feeling a bit cranky, wondering what on earth to write about, when my thoughts turn to events of yesterday, and to my 92 year old Father, Jim.  He was in hospital with agony in his leg: a foot that has gone purple because of a collapsed vein in his thigh.  We called in to see him yesterday on our way home from Cambridge, expecting to have to gee him up ready for his operation today.  Instead, when we got there he was in theatre having the operation (one day early), so we waited for him to come back to the ward with little expectation of getting any sense out of him, but knowing we would feel good about seeing him alive at least (God willing).

There he was, looking remarkably fresh and tidy, sitting up in a somewhat regal repose.  He opened one eye when I spoke to him, took in the fact that it was me, and was suddenly fully awake.  When he saw Charlotte his face broke out into a grin.  “No, it can’t be, this must be some kind of trick.  You’re not telling me I’ve had the operation  already are you?  It doesn’t seem possible.”  He was like a child for whom Christmas has come early.  He was in a mild state of euphoria, I’d say.  I can only guess, but I imagine the absence of pain in his foot (they had already detected a pulse and it was visibly changing colour back towards normal) must have been like drinking champagne.  And mentally, not having an operation hanging over you in which the consultant has spelt out the risk of losing your leg and of not surviving the operation, must have been like being given a Get Out Of Jail Free card.   He couldn’t quite believe his luck.

Java Club 2012 030 (3)But how much of his survival was down to luck?  How much of a part did his attitude play? Jim has always called himself “a survivor”, and for good reason.  In World War 2 he was a Japanese Prisoner of War, and spent several years in prison camp in Java.  There are not many of his comrades left now, and he’s one of the oldest.  He reckons he survived partly because his prison was “like a holiday camp compared with some of the others.”

He lost his wife Janet last year to a series of strokes, and since then he has carried on living alone at home.  Mum was a lot younger than him, and was in effect his carer:  now she is gone he has picked himself up and got on with caring for himself, with some extra outside support for cooking and cleaning.  “Life goes on”, he says.  “We need to look to the future.”

This is bravery indeed.  He has occasional wobbles, when you see the vulnerability.  He is frail, scared of going outside in case he falls over (so would you be if your foot was agony), so it’s not much of a life.  But he’s an Introvert, loves reading and crosswords, card games, the odd glass of malt whisky, and is happy with his own company.  He hasn’t given up, not by any means.  In fact he is keen to break the family record of 97 years, and judging by his performance these last few days, he will do so.  He has persistently shown over the course of his life the power of positive attitude.  Attitude is a choice, and he knows it.

“Lucky Jim”, we sometimes call him.  And as we all know, you make your own luck in life.

© Nomad_Soul – Fotolia.com


About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at www.hownot2.com
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11 Responses to Looking for inspiration? Try looking closer to home.

  1. Carolann says:

    If your dad was fortunate enough to have been born with a positive attitude—yay for him! If he had to learn the hard way that we have a choice in what our attitude is—yay for him! Either way—yay for you (having such a great role model!) My wishes for a speedy recovery for you and your dad.


  2. Chaz says:

    I am all for positive thinking and in fact, rely on it to stay sane and functioning. Without question it affects most areas of our lives and we must be the gatekeepers of our own thoughts and actions.

    Odd parallel to our stories is that I too have a recently hospitalized WW2 Vetran and POW father. Although he’s not quite as positive I must say. In fact he’s fairly bleak but he seems to be the anomaly in that he keeps going in spite of his negativity. Negativity that he unfortunately passed on to his 4 kids, but happy to say we all have undertaken our journeys of recovery from it.

    So even if positiveness evades us or was never mentored in us, I have experienced our outlook to be a changeable thing. Important to note that we, and only we, hold the key to initiate the change.

    Thanks for your cheerful post this morning!



    • Chaz, what an interesting comparison! It’s good to hear that he keeps going despite himself almost: what Churchill would have called the “keep buggering on” spirit. Hard as nails, that generation, aren’t they?


  3. Lita Cavanagh says:

    Get well soon Mr Brown Snr xxx
    I never have to look far for inspiration with a Mum like I have, I can almost always hear her wise words whenever I am low or out of tune with the world. Mum never took one day out of her voluntary work whilst going through chemotherapy. We lost Dad whilst she was at the end of her treatment, yet still she continued to work. She has a positive attitude and has won many awards for her inspirational work, 32 years in Youth Work. I will always remember a friend coming to see Mum and saying ‘ I was so upset to hear you have cancer’. True to Mum, she replied ” oh no that was yesterday, it is in the bin now” What a wonderful woman who has 6 children, and we have all obtained a good career. Mum feels she was ‘meant’ to have the cancer so she could meet the fantastic people who are a huge part of her life now in the Lyndale cancer support centre, (yes! she also works there) so she could focus and remain positive after losing Dad. She and Dad were married for 54 years, and Mum will not be sad as she say’s she has been lucky to have had so many happy years, more than what a lot of people can say. She always looks at what is positive in her life and will always find a reason for the negative, turning into a positive.
    Love you Mum!


  4. Michael
    I hardly dare read the blogs these days…they always leave me with a watery eye! First the sad passing of Rufus and now the worry over your Dad!
    On a brighter note I would love to know what the client is actually going to do with the results of discovering how low the morale in the company is!! Keep me upadated. Best wishes to Jim.
    Mike C


    • Sorry, Mike, don’t mean to upset you!! I really must stop unburdening all my woes onto society in this way!

      I am very confident that my client will make a lot of change from the report I’m writing as we speak. If not, can I get you round there – they’re based not far from you actually!


  5. christinapd says:

    Inspiration truly does start at home. Well done to your Dad, wishing him all the very best and a speedy recovery from his op.


  6. Katie slater says:

    A very inspirational story, well done to your dad, your right, if we are to move forward we must remain positive and understand that it is only us as individuals that can make the difference and achieve our ambitions. Hope your cold, sorry, flu gets better soon!


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