Posted 30/12/2015

Sharing Good Fortune in 2016

Think about what you have, not what you don’t

In order to feel fortunate, first we must appreciate how lucky we really are. But navigating a difficult economic climate in the last few years, many people in the Western World have felt miserable, depressed, unlucky, under the cosh.

The very fact that you can read this post on your chosen device, in a country where reading is obligatory from mandatory schooling, that you may be sitting on a bus, in a train or tube, confident enough to be travelling on public transport to work, is placing you into the tiniest percentage of the world’s population.

Wake up, review the perspective, and understand what luck really is. It’s time to realise how lucky we are:

  • If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on earth, that village would consist of 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 Americans (North, Central and South) and 8 Africans.
  • There would be 52 women, 48 men. 30 Caucasians and 70 non-Caucasians.
  • 30 Christians, 70 non-Christians. 89 heterosexuals, 11 homosexuals.
  • 6 people would possess 59% of the wealth and they would all come from the USA.
  • 80 would live in poverty, 70 would be illiterate, 50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
  • 1 would own a computer. And 1 (yes, only one) would have a university degree.
  • If you woke up this morning in good health, you have more luck than one million people, who won’t live through the week. If you have never experienced the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture, were not close to death from starvation, then you are better off than 500 million people.
  • If you can go to your place of worship without fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than 3 billion (that’s right) people.
  • If you have a full fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world’s population.

The word ‘fortune’ leads to ‘fortunate’. My wife Shalina has an Indian family heritage, and spending time in India has made me understand how different lifestyles can be, and how fortunate I am. In the same spirit I visited, with my senior management team, the concentration camp complex at Auschwitz. The scale of that horror – made unbearably real by the small, human details: the piles of glasses, the suitcases – clearly sets any short-term, superficial, self-centred dissatisfaction into the most acutely stark of contexts.

Fortune also suggests ‘wealth’. I recently came across these Six Principles of Life And Money:

  1. There is no point using limited life to chase unlimited money.
  2. No point earning so much money you cannot live to spend it.
  3. Money is not yours until you spend it.
  4. When you are young, you use your health to chase your wealth; when you are old, you use your wealth to buy back your health. The difference is that it is too late.
  5. How happy a man is, is not how much he has, but how little he needs.
  6. No point working so hard to provide for the people you have no time to spend with.

But if we are lucky, we must not be complacent. There are real issues growing and waiting ahead.

My message for 2016 is this: think about what you have, not what you don’t. Focus on what makes you fortunate and share whatever this is, be it time, creativity, strength, fitness, knowledge, experience, to help others become as fortunate as you.

2016 is going to be an exciting year for me. I’m looking forward to the next CEO Sleepout in March to raise money for Action for Children, and then my 40 Marathons in 40 Days fundraising event for The Prince’s Trust in the summer. Please join me in doing everything you can to improve the fortunes of others by supporting these events where you can too.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year.

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Why the Prince’s Trust?