Our first real planning meeting for Spring was in June last year when Lucy, Jack, Fiona and I headed to Hawarden Estate to get out of the city, eat some good food together and have a walk and a talk. Fiona and I had been talking about the ‘Ethos Journal’ on and off for the nine months prior to that day, but what we really needed to get seriously going on it, was a bit of reflection time away from our desks, a bit of fresh air and a walk.
We agreed on the nine themes for the book as we ate; talked about what we’d all find valuable from a book like Spring whilst we walked; and decided what it needed to do to be a useful thing, as we sat outside in the sun. We went in search of answers and found them together outside a café in North Wales. Then we set ourselves the all-important deadline to get the book and a crowdfunding campaign that would help us publish it done.
We’d been on a journey together as a group since 2015 when we launched Ethos as a blog which would later become a quarterly print magazine. The conversations, interviews, and stories we’ve done have taken us all over the world, speaking to people who have been on remarkable journeys to do the things that they’ve done. Ethos is a magazine that covers the stories of purpose-driven brands and businesses (of all sizes) that have a strong and clear social or environmental mission. These are inspiring organisations, and we love sharing their stories. But in every story, there’s at least one equally inspiring personal journey. A set of themes and principles emerged as we heard and collected these stories time and time again – these became the themes for Spring.
I think we recognised these themes so easily because they appear in our own personal and professional lives, too. At the time of writing this Fiona and I have been running businesses for the best part of a combined 20 years, and as I reflect on that time, I can easily pinpoint the moments in my career when things have either gone completely to shit; gone swimmingly well; and the things that have helped right my course when I’ve needed to. And in that story, the themes appeared. To hear the stories of other people facing these things in the stories we write for Ethos is both hugely rewarding, and reassuring. I’m not alone in these things. Nobody is.
In the time since then and launching the campaign I’ve thought about that day in Hawarden a lot. About us taking the space we needed to reflect together on what we were trying to do with the book – to collect our thoughts and hone our vision.
And so I returned, in the weekend prior to our Spring campaign launch, for a weekend of good food, walking, fresh air and good talks at the Good Life Experience. It was time for me personally to reflect on what we were about to do and make sure I knew for certain why we were doing it. On the Saturday of the festival, I sat with a beer in my hand and watched my son play on the slide, up and down, over and over, and my brain delivered me this…
I’m personally making Spring for myself, aged 21 and fresh out of a failed university experience, looking to find a job and my way in the world. Ahead of me is a set of challenges for which I have little preparation. I’ll go on to work for and with exciting start-ups; begin a search for purpose which would drive me mad for a few years and into depression; fail to launch businesses a handful of times; run out money more than a handful of times; successfully launch projects and businesses; meet amazing new people; do things I couldn’t possibly have imagined doing then; and more.
Whilst being aware that the themes in Spring won’t necessarily change the course of the events ahead of me (I wouldn’t change any of them now) it will definitely help me to bounce-back quicker when I land on my arse with a bump, and make me more aware and confident about myself throughout all the ups and downs. It will help me develop the resilience I’ll need. It will make sure that I take the space and time to stop or slow down; to reflect on where I am and what I have; to build it into my life as a habit and a practice. It’ll help me develop self-awareness. It’ll help me to trust my instincts when I’m faced with tough decisions. It’ll help me be more me, more often.
If the journey we have been on with Ethos has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not alone in any of these things. There are millions of people who’ll go through similar things. People of all ages face that moment where they set out on a new adventure through uncharted territory, much like I did at 21. And so Spring is for them, too.
And it’s for me, too. As in me today, me. As a self-employed person, and a dad and husband, making sure that I regularly take the time to reflect; to think about purpose; money; relationships; my health and wellbeing; fear; how I measure progress and set goals; how I find focus, and make time for my hobbies and side projects, have helped me to be more consistent for the people in my life, and find fulfilment and joy when I’ve needed them.
This post originally appeared as part of our Spring campaign diary series, in September 2018.