Today is my son’s ninth birthday.

I mention that although, curiously, we are the only mammal on the planet that either counts or cares for time. Even the teddy bears chose a picnic, not a birthday party.

I don’t remember much about being nine but I do remember two things clearly – The Minstrel winning the Derby under Lester Piggott; and a strange fascination about why some adults were more happy, kind and “successful” than others. Anyway, what did success really mean? (as plenty of rich people seemed pretty miserable to me).

Fast-forward forty-one years and I’m now about to turn fifty (in February). In the intervening years, I’ve had the good fortune to translate those childhood preoccupations into two compelling parallel careers – writing for the Sunday Independent on horse racing for 20 years whilst growing a company (Flow Group) specialising in people and organisational development, also for 20 years.

happy, kind and “successful”
Why are some adults more happy, kind and “successful” than others?
Many have asked how I intend to celebrate the half-century – big extravaganza? Dip into the bucket list? Instead I’ve decided to indulge in the reflection time necessary to record my life-to-date reflections and insights on the key to turning this game of Life into a game worth playing.

And life has all the hallmarks of a game – defined physical boundaries; many levels (physical; psychological; emotional; spiritual); a starting point (lottery of birth); and a time limit (although sneakily we never know how long).

The trouble is we are born without the manual of how to be successful or happy and, therefore, are left to figure it out usually on a trial-and-error basis for those with a mind to do so.

As mentioned, I’ve had that mind for as long as I can remember and have wrestled with making sense of it all through a combination of mindful personal experience, working professionally with over 20,000 leaders in over 300 organisations internationally, whilst growing a business and helping raise a family.

bucket list
“Many have asked how I intend to celebrate the half-century – big extravaganza? Dip into the bucket list?”
So whether this is a vanity project or an invaluable service to mankind (did I mention humour is a valuable de-toxifier?), the plan is to serialise 50 life lessons distilled through 50 years over the next 12 months through posts and podcasts although – may I add – the standard health and wealth warnings apply.

Without giving the game away, every insight into what makes us happier or more successful in our brief encounter with humanity is ultimately rooted in just two elements:

how we think
how we interact
Finally, I was once working with an Italian client and arrived at Milan’s Linate airport during a taxi strike. Eventually, finding a thronged bus to transport me to the client’s office in the centre, I was steadily approached by Salvatore, a manager who was part of the leadership team I had worked with some six months previously. I enquired as to how the principles were working. Salvatore paused and then replied “Ah the princi-ples… Is-a-simple, but it’s not-a-easy!”

Hope you can follow in the weeks and months ahead. The insights might be simple, just don’t expect them to be easy.

Ian McClean is the founder of Flow Group and co-founder of GreenLine Conversations©, see further details in his bio above.

Leave a Reply