A number of years ago I read a book called “A Fortunate Life” by Albert B.Facey. Now considered an Australian literary classic, selling over a million copies to generations of readers downunder.  

The most surprising thing was that Albert didn’t learn to read and write until after his return from the Great War at the ripe old age of 20.

For me as I read his simple, uncomplicated and straightforward tome it was more than that garnered my attention. 

It was his underlying acceptance of his lot in life, he didn’t complain about his life’s hardships or his struggles. He focused on how lucky he was to have lived such a wonderfully rich and amazing life.  

Irrespective of the difficulty or losses that he’d encountered along the way…

The book was published shortly before his death in 1982 and was written at the urgings of his kids. Can you believe he wrote the entire manuscript in longhand. 

Now that in itself is a feat of arms few could accomplish today. 

Clearly, it was the culmination of many years of reminiscing and writing.  It’s one thing to write a short memory, but an entirely different kettle of fish to then try and weave them into a single life story.

Such a painstaking process, but I’m sure also very enjoyable.  🙂

Once a writer, always a writer…

I can hear you all saying “okay, so what?” 

This book triggered a conversation I had with one of my mates whom I coached back during the early 1990’s for Australian Rules football here in Toronto. 

In those days Craig was a university student who took to football like a duck to water. He and his mate Warren both fell in love with Aussie Rules and were keen to learn the game with all its nuances. 

Yes, there are rules…and nuances! 🙂 

Both excelled at the game.

As our conversation continued, I realised that it was much more than just a game they learned during those formative years, it was life lessons.

Today, Craig is a very successful executive with one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies. Warren is a high-powered public prosecutor for the Provincial Government.

As Craig and I sat and talked, we reminisced over those years and the enjoyment that we all got from being part of the team.  

We had been fortunate to have the right mix of people and chemistry to develop a strong and unique culture that has bonded the team for close to 30 years.

As we talked it seemed as though each of us has taken away a consistent set of life lessons that has shaped our values and lives to this day.  For me it boiled down to these five things during our conversation:

Commitment to the team and to each other and to do whatever it takes to be successful, to give 100% and do my absolute best no matter what.  Always play fair but hard.

Self-belief in that you can do anything if you absolutely believe in it, and go “all-in” to make it happen.  The only person you have to convince is yourself, ultimately you have to believe.

Attitude is central in the way you live your life.  For me this so important, and one of the things I constantly reinforce with Zach and Sami – “each day, you, and you alone get to choose and decide on how you want your day to be.  No one else dictates this – you decide!”

Passion is the difference maker when it comes living your life. If you’re on a team look into your teammate’s eyes, can you see the burning desire to do whatever it takes to be successful?  Life is too short not to surround yourself with like-minded people.

Courage to lead and be first and put yourself on the line. The courage to be authentic and real, the courage to chart your own path, often in the path of adversity or against the tide of popular thinking.

It was uncanny because as we talked, it became clear that we shared these same themes throughout the subsequent years. 

Not surprisingly, each of my old teammates seem to share these commonalities. Although each has taken a different path in life they have taken these life lessons and applying them as a foundation for the amazingly rich and rewarding lives they now all lead. 

Who would have thought that a recreational football team would have had such a strong influence and impact on the lives of those that played on that team?  

It reminded me strongly of the HBO series “Band of Brothers”. Similarly the stories lines and shared experiences have created a lifelong bond from our time together.

If you choose to read Albert Facey’s story you’ll see what I mean. These same common values and threads are evident in our lives today, just as they were in his all those years ago.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition of time and space but a commonality that begs the question of refining your own values and beliefs to live “a fortunate life”. 

Now that could be a great self-reflection point if you’re up for the challenge.  🙂

Until next week!