If you were anything like me when you were at school and saw your ruler describing itself as “shatterproof”, you immediately snapped it in half. This is because I had no time for lies, and I had no regard for school property. Alright, I had some respect for school property, but I did break those rulers.

I think there is something to be said about an item or person claiming it is unbreakable and then wanting to prove it wrong. I’m not saying that the Titanic got what was coming to it, but I think there is a danger in saying “this ship is unsinkable” before setting sail across the ocean.
It’s sort of a more extreme version of having a bad day and then saying, “well, at least it’s not raining”, just as a weather warning is being announced on the news…

As humans, we are striving to make ourselves unbreakable. We are sold the idea that we need to build ourselves up to such a being that we can handle anything. We’re told we need to be ready for any eventualities. So we try and become shatterproof. And we shatter. This week’s newsletter will discuss what it means to be unbreakable and if we need to re-assess those ideas. Are we striving to achieve the impossible to distract ourselves for every day, or is there a way to truly become unbreakable?

When do you feel strong? I mean, really strong. Strong enough that you are incapable of feeling emotional pain or discomfort. Strong enough that sticks and stones won’t break your bones, let alone those words that have never hurt you if the playground chant is to be believed?

In this week’s newsletter, I will share when I feel at my strongest and the journey I’ve been on to get there.

When I was younger, I was competitive. There is something about the world of sport that asks this of you. You have to fight for your place in the team. You have to prove that you are worthy of the logo on the front of your shirt, and the number on the back. You have to train to turn up every day with the mental and physical energy needed to succeed. I have carried that attitude into adulthood. And still, apply today.

The knowledge that victories are hard-won and devastating losses but not the end of the road is the result of my sports-based passions as a young man.

I have found what I needed for team sports matched the mindset that I need to succeed in business. You must have a winning mentality, endurance, an acknowledgement of a team effort, a desire to improve. These qualities made me stronger. I knew, and know, the importance of practice. The strength that you build upon. The growing belief that you, and your team, can come across any challenge, face it head-on, and win.

A victory is a powerful dopamine hit and adrenaline rush. Your body is flooded with reward hormones for overcoming nerves and hitting the puck into the back of the net. Your body rewards you for smashing that presentation and landing your company a huge new contract. When it comes to our father’s fathers before us, they were praised by their bodies for chasing away that sabre tooth tiger and living to fight another day.

The rewards that come after a hard-fought victory are almost unparalleled. Almost.

I will share with you when I feel at my strongest, and I’m going to tell you, with complete honesty, that I feel the strongest I have ever felt today. Right now.

I am standing on the foundations that I worked hard to lay down. I am 45 years old. I am the fittest and healthiest I have ever been. I am not “over the hill” or ‘feeling my age” I am stronger than I have ever been. But how do I know when I haven’t recently completed an Iron Man in the Sahara or done Tough Mudder in Siberia? How could I possibly feel stronger than ever and, dare I say it, unbreakable if there is no medal at the end of it?

Because I take on day to day challenges that put my mental and physical health first, I have cultivated a practice that allows time for my work, exercise, family and friends. I have been able to develop a schedule that works for me. I have managed to find balance in a complex world, and it has enabled me to feel a strength that I’ve never felt before.

I partake in 10 daily habits that allow me to build to my best. Some of them offer daily discomfort and “in the moment” frustrations. This includes starting the day with a cold shower, not because I love a cold shower, but because I love the clarity and focus it offers me.
It means that instead of worrying about the day ahead, the meetings I may have and the chores I have to do, my mind is focused on the fact that the water I am standing under is freezing. It doesn’t have to be a long shower, just enough to bring me into the now.

I’ve also found strength through not drinking alcohol. Now I know this isn’t easy for everyone, but I have found the benefits of waking up the next morning with a clear head far outweighs the temptation of a couple of beers the evening before. This brings me back to the main subject of today’s episode. I feel that the strength it takes to put my future before my present benefits me in both. When I think about being unbreakable, I truly believe the daily practices of slight discomfort, cold showers/prioritising sleepovers at a late-night party means that I am stronger than I’ve ever been.

I’m sure none of you needs reminding about the challenges of the past couple of years. The reality of lockdown and pandemic that would have been unthinkable in 2019 meant that we were tested in ways even fans of disaster films couldn’t have imagined. And yet, through continuing my ten daily habits, I have been able to stay on track with my journey. I was able to get stronger every day, even against the odds. Finding consistency through such an inconsistent time has meant that my work life and family life are better than ever. It is stronger than ever, and so am I.

The other day I had a message from my wife saying that she thought our relationship was the best it had ever been. Is that because I am constantly whisking her off to Paris to romance her on the Seine? No. We are still in a pandemic, and we think Paris is over-rated. Is it because I shower her with jewellery daily? No, I am not a millionaire and choosing expensive gifts tends to leave me sweaty and anxious. Is my marriage the best it has ever been because I recently paid Chris De Burgh to sing “Lady In Red” whilst we dined at The Ritz on our anniversary? Nope. We didn’t go to The Ritz, and Chris De Burgh has not returned my emails. Our marriage is the best it has ever been because we want it to be. We do not take each other for granted. We make quality time for each other, and we remain present. Our marriage is stronger than ever because we are stronger than ever.

Often, when it comes to the best things in life, they are simple. The Beatles once said, “money can’t buy me, love,” but they also said, “We all live in a yellow submarine”, so I think it’s fair to say we should take everything everyone says with a pinch of salt, including me. I haven’t joined the SAS. If you have, and it’s there that you feel your strongest, that’s good for you. But when I hear that it’s “who dares wins”, I think “, who cares?”.

Daily life offers enough of a challenge. Avoid focusing on how many tractor tyres you can flip in under a minute. Instead, pledge to take on the challenges of every day waking up ready to take on the next ones? That’s strength. You don’t have to call yourself shatterproof. You have to be strong enough to know you’re not, but try anyway.

Thanks for reading.