Lessons from 2021 - Mini-Blog

I've learnt a little post-event procedure, which I carry out after most meaningful tasks or periods, especially projects at work, an educational event or course, and even after something like some time away from the family.

I call it the 2 pillars of self-improvement.

Should 1 pillar fail, then I have 1 in tact, but I become unsteady in my journey of improving a little everyday.

Should both fail, then I have really let things go over that period of time.

Pillar 1: On looking back, did I give 100% to the task?

Pillar 2: Did I learn something new?

A lot of people say, especially the veteran community, which is a table I sit at, is that you can only grow outside of your comfort zone.

This is a misconception, as the passion to learn, which is a medium of personal growth, exists within the comfort zone of so many. Yes, I agree that exposing yourself to uncomfortable situations is a stimulus for growth and personal development, but it is not an essential ingredient.

I present my 2 pillars after a specific event, and then try to reflect on my own performances around the things I didn't like or struggled with. I then identify what I could and could control and syphon the uncontrollable aspects out of my pillar system.

What I should be left with is events I wasn't particularly too pleased about or believe they could have been done better, for they are one's I could have controlled, and therefore the 2 pillars apply.

It's ok for things to go wrong; to let your guard down now and again, and have the moments where you feel like shit because you could have done better.

Things like complacency, distraction, poor decision making are completely natural events and/or human behaviours, but feeling like shit says you'd like the experience to be different next time. Therefore, the 2 pillars of self-improvement may help you in the future if you choose to apply them.

I've picked 3 important events out of 2021 for me, and have given them a very basic analysis using the 2 pillars.


In April 2021, I gave up an amazing job with a great salary and some serious annual down time thrown in, to jump into a senior management role, with less pay, less time off and a lot more stress. The major difference being; the highly paid one kept me offshore and away from family, and the lower paid one allowed me to be there for every school performance, hospital visit, birthday, Christmas and New Year. So a very important exercise here was to look back at my previous offshore employment period of 7 years in general and apply the 2 pillars.

Did I give my offshore career 100%? - Hell yeah!

Did I learn anything? - More than I could have imagined.


Starting my new role threw me straight into the deep end of compliance, and into a new industry. It was difficult to create a brand new management system and learn brand new standards at the same time. Stress came in abundance, but I applied the concept of being outside of the comfort zone as a small part of my self-improvement strategy, and tried my best to take it all in my stride. This seemed to work, and up to now, things have been tough, aggressive but very enjoyable. So, for the last 8 months, I apply the 2 pillars:

Have I given my new role 100% in 2021? - Let's say 110%

Did I learn anything? - More than my measly little brain could handle!


Toward the end of 2021, I went on a Royal Marines 2-man folding boat expedition around the west coast of Scotland, which was to take 6 days, paddling around some of the most treacherous waters the UK has to offer. The weather and the usual expedition routine offered up their own small battles, along with a little known bug called covid19. I left England with a fever and headache after twice testing negative on a lateral flow test and accepted incorrectly accepted my condition as flu or cold. Lemsip and Paracetamol was the order of the day to keep down what was evidently coming up. We drove to Scotland on a Friday and were to start paddling on Saturday morning. Saturday morning came, and the paddle started. I could not consume any food, as it was too much of a fight to keep it down once consumed. My lack of eating was continue for 7 days from here. My fever was still running and the headache was intense. We paddled 75 nautical miles, where I was requested to test again and unfortunately tested positive this time. I was pulled off the expedition and returned home. On arriving home, I took a turn for the worse and had to dial 999. After being squared away by some truly amazing ambulance technicians, I returned to my normal self after about 6-8 weeks but it took a hell of a lot out of me.

Did I give 100% to the expedition? - Absolutely

Did I learn anything? - Yes, absolutely:

1. An old lesson regurgitated itself from my days in the Royal Marines, and one I was taught by the infamous ML's. "Don't take an injury into the mountains". Ok, we were at sea, but most probably a worse environment to be fair. I shouldn't have proceeded onto the expedition feeling rough, carrying a fever. As they say, pride comes before the fall; If I'd have become a casualty on the water, it could have put the team into a very difficult position, at sea with minimal egress and in rough weather. Never be afraid to communicate a weakness to your team, they can pull together if needed to get you and/or the team through what needs to be done. Hiding weaknesses to those who require your all, may lead down a horrible path. Lesson learned.

2. Do not rely on lateral flow tests! One came back positive out of 11 taken during my time feeling rough with covid19. Go and get a PCR lol.

3.  The feeling of missing or yearning for a plate of warm food, a nice bed to sleep in, a hot bath, some shelter, a cuddle of a loved one, is actually an awesome thing. You can only really miss something if you've had the privilege of experiencing it. Being cold, wet, hungry, tired, with a fever and feeling like shit, reminded me (again) of how privileged I actually am.

Without micro-analysing these events and others from my year, 2021 overall has been a good year, covid19 aside.

Some big lifestyle changes, materialistically for the worse. For the things that matter, for the better.

There are positive aspects in every negative situation, all you have to do is look carefully. There is a ladder out of every hole, all you have to is find it, some easier than others, but it is there. Never be afraid to calculated risks, big leaps, and give love and respect to everyone. The new year will bring to you, what you bring to it!

Analyse everything and apply the 2-pillars. Take away some lessons and reflect on things you could have done differently, then test and adjust from there.

Never be afraid to point the finger at yourself for the things you could have controlled that went wrong.

For those of you reading this who may have struggled, lost loved ones or have been feeling lower than your usual self, my thoughts and prayers go with you into 2022. Stay strong.

Happy New Year everyone.

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