Rest arrest

‘Hi, how’re you doing?’



‘Bit knackered’

‘Too much on’

These exchanges, or similar, will be heard thousands and thousands of times per day, in offices or workplaces all over the world. It would be interesting to really know what was really going through the minds of our colleagues (or former colleagues in my case….) as they respond. Is it an automated response? Are we conditioned to give the impression that we are pulling our weight within the team? It could be that you are on the way to the coffee machine, carrying a piece of paper for effect. Yes we’ve all done it! We all want to be seen as an integral cog within the corporate machine, indispensable and industrious.

How do you really feel when this question is asked?

Maybe you are tired, knackered, busy and have too much on.

Life is full on. Pressure is everywhere, and so often work is where the squeeze really comes on. This is when we need to think about rest. Relaxation is overlooked in life. Smartphones and tablets don’t help, but workplace pressure makes it difficult to rest properly. As does life at home. As does our own nature. Many people find it really difficult to sit. Just to sit and watch life happen around them. The good friend who inspired this piece was telling me yesterday this is a personal struggle that he has. He is not alone. Overcoming the need or desire to be busy is a challenge. Subsequently, rest is relegated, de-prioritised, with the result that you are constantly tired. What can follow that?



The impact can manifest itself physically and mentally. According to US statistics, 14% of workers have suffered the symptoms of burnout. One in seven!

I am sure there is more to come on the subject of burnout and stress. But my point here concerns how we chill out. I am in a position now where I can practice rest, but I know I am blessed and in a minority. Again, I do not have a perfect answer, but there are many things that can help. Mindfulness, meditation and prayer are all valid ways to help. Exercise is another, training or playing hard so you really do feel like sitting down! How about reading, losing yourself in a novel?

Resting can be hard, but the reward is better physical and mental health. Worth the effort to do nothing.

Take the time to do it.

Brothers in each others arms

“You have faced some challenges, as we all do, and as you rightly say it is how you deal with them that defines you. I think we learnt a lot together on those rugby pitches, never more so in defeat. We tended to come out fighting but clear headed”
An old mate, a fellow rugby player and a gifted sportsman made this comment on my first blog post. JV is a top man, and despite publicly comparing me with a hagfish (look it up – it wasn’t a compliment…), remains someone I feel I could count on in times of trouble. I know that he has been there for people in the past when their world was collapsing. He is a compassionate guy who went into bat for a brother in trouble.
In other words, he is a typical ‘rugbyman’ as they say this side of La Manche. Jon’s comment set me thinking about brotherhood, friendship between men. What is it about certain sports, jobs or vocations that creates a bond, a trust? In my experience, rugby has always forged a near unbreakable link between those who played, trained and fought together. Perhaps physical threat is a common factor, or the reliance of your team mates to win/survive? Working hard to achieve a common goal, confronting challenges, putting your head in stupid places to gain advantages of inches, or fractions of seconds.

At times, these relationships can get a little fractious, particularly when alcohol is involved, but friendships hold firm. I have punched close mates (including JV – sorry bro….), and been punched by them. Despite this, the bond continues. We laugh and move on. Usually to the next bar…..

Where am I going with this you might ask? Another old rugby geezer going on about past glories, how rugby is the best sport in the world, and footballers could learn from us…. Blah blah blah. It’s a cliché, but clichés are repeated for a reason; they generally hold true.

This is not my point. My point is that it’s tough old world out there. Pressure is unrelenting in so many facets of our lives. Work, relationships, money, health, faith. All men (and ladies forgive me – I am not ignoring the challenges you face either, it’s just that your coping mechanisms seem to be more effective) will face challenges, attacks even, on all these areas of their lives. At some time or another, we will all be under the pump. Pressure builds, but you rely on yourself to cope, to manage, to exist. Stay strong, stiff upper lip. But the pressure continues to build, cracks appear in the dam. Another bollocking from the boss, another bill, the screw tightens. Its ok. You can deal with it – after all your Grandad coped with the war, he did alright. Apart from the fact he didn’t – he died in his early 60s of heart and liver disease. You soldier on, but without knowing it you are coming apart at the seams. Anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, all of these can set in, they can become a reality. You know what, I can feel the emotion rising in me just thinking and writing about this.

That’s because its real. It happens. Daily. Every day, men kill themselves. I have quoted this fact many times, and I make no apology for doing so again. THE BIGGEST KILLER OF MEN BETWEEN THE AGES OF 20 AND 49 IS SUICIDE! How desperate must things get to take that final choice?

What’s the answer? No silver bullet here, but we have to think about solutions, about making good choices. How about talking to your old mates? Or your pastor? Call someone. If you are a believer, as I am, cry out to God, seek His peace. Just talk, it’s actually ok to do that.

It’s not weakness, as we are conditioned to think, its bloody strong. It’s showing the world that you are not scared of breaking out of the constraint that society puts on you, and seeking help.

How about popping into the rugby club, and looking up the bloke who stood by your side in the Cup Final of 1989, and pouring your heart out to him? He will hug you, buy you a pint and tell you it’s going to get better. And he’s right.

Quadrants of my life.

Structure. Discipline. Routine. When redundancy strikes, how does your day look? After a career of any length of time, you become set in your ways. Regular meetings, getting up at certain time. Abusing the free coffee, until it becomes another type of addiction. Probably too much information, but even visits to trap 3 (yes we all have our favourite cubicle….) are regular-ish.

Suddenly this familiarity, this comfort blanket of schedules and alerts 15 minutes before the meetings start is blown away. Gone. Time lies before you, at least until the last episode of that box set is finished. By the way, any recommendations greatly received, especially as I am struggling with GoT withdrawal symptoms.

So what do you do? Sitting in your pants watching Netflix ceases to become socially acceptable after 3-5 days. You need to buy food, as food groups other than cereal are required in order to avoid scurvy or rickets.

My plan was actually quite simple: I bought a white board.

At the centre of this board is my vision. Let’s call it Carl 2.0.

Then I split that into quadrants.





Following that, I add in activity plans that support my personal development in each one of this 4 areas.

The idea is to spend some time on at least one activity per quadrant per day.

At some point, I will break this down, explain some of the stuff I have done. After 3 months of garden leave, I have been reasonably successful in making this into a routine. I am up before 7 more or less every day. I achieve something every day. I am not bored, I have a sense of purpose.

The irony is that I have done very little gardening.

On the Swiss rock and roll. 5 days in….

Have I got anything interesting to say? I guess anyone thinking about blogging needs to consider this question. Is anyone remotely interested in what an unemployed, 52 year old expat in Switzerland thinks, or writes about anything? Don’t know, don’t care. Probably a bit of public therapy or navel gazing, and just maybe there will be a small nugget that might make someone think. But probably not…..

So after 26 years, Nestlé decided that there was no longer a Carl-sized hole in their organisation. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, mainly because there was no alternative! It was a generous offer however, and gives me time to really think through the next stage in my life, and allows a degree of security for my children. As I am on my own, this is a challenge. As I am on on my own. this is a gift. There is a clear choice in how I respond. I choose gift. The evangelist Chuck Swindoll famously said “We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. Our attitude is everything”

Bang on. A positive mind set really costs nothing. It can set you apart from the moaning masses. Does anything good, anything worthwhile come from a cynical, miserable attitude? Who are the friends and family that make you feel good, that energise you, are fun to be around? Certainly not the complainers and whingers! The former England rugby coach, Sir Clive Woodward, talks about ‘energisers and energy sappers’ within teams and organisations. Guess which he preferred? Did England win the Rugby World Cup with a team driven forward by energised leaders? Oh yes!

Inspirational people come in many shapes and forms but I imagine e very few begin a conversation, presentation or address by complaining that their tea is too weak, or that they lost a limb whilst serving their country.

We are presented with a choice in each situation, in each fresh season of our lives. I have the opportunity to restart my life, maybe to do something different. Perhaps something crazy. Or maybe continue to be a corporate wage slave. Coffee shop entrepreneur. Foggy from the Last of the Summer Wine….Young enough to still retain some desire and passion, whilst possessing an element of experience and wisdom. And Faith. I believe that there is a path for me, should I choose to follow it. The choice belongs to me and my God.

Let us be relentless in our positivity. Let us look for the good in people. Then you will be rewarded. With a smile, with a job, with love. It’s all out there. We just need to look with an open heart.