Adrian Bourne   on 'Light from the Bonfire'

Adrian Bourne on 'Light from the Bonfire'
How priorities for your Portfolio can evolve in ways that surprise you!


Your Portfolio life keeps on evolving. Something that seemed to fit so well is replaced by something that fits even better! The evolution may come from frequent replanning....or from a moment of epiphany like this one.......

It was all so easy and a heaven sent opportunity. 

Three years into my portfolio life after thirty years in international corporates, I was looking for another non executive position to replace one that was ending.  That Friday afternoon I found myself sitting in the front row of an independent directors conference, sharing experiences and linking up on potential new appointments.  Half way through one of the more boring talks, I noticed the person sitting next to me had a file with the name of a company on it.  The name of the company was one I recognised well. Three years ago I had been running it as Chief Executive.  I had heard it was seeking new ownership and looking for financing. 

At the coffee break I posed the question 

‘Are you looking at the company on your file?’

 ‘Yes, we are investigating it and putting proposals in on Monday, it needs financing but we think we can achieve that with the right team’  

‘Funnily enough I was very involved for three years running that company. Could I be of help?’

‘What a lucky coincidence. Well we’re looking for strategic help and for potential non-executives on the board. Would that be of interest?’

Bells rang, pennies dropped, links dropped into place.  What could be a better omen than to have met by coincidence, to find a next non-executive in an area I already knew, and to work with people who thought I could bring value.  

‘Have a look at these confidential information files over the weekend and will be in touch on Monday to meet up’.  

The drive home felt euphoric. I believe in synchronicity and here it was at work; this would fit the slot in my portfolio, provide an income stream for three years, use my knowledge and experience. 

I told the good news to my wife we raised a toast to the past company and the future involvement; the next stage of my portfolio seemed to be resolved

Saturday morning was different.  In place of a feeling of synchronicity and euphoria, came a gradual feeling of dullness and rethinking.  Did I really want to go back to where I’d been?  Did I want to use my new energy on old problems.  Did it feel like stepping backwards or moving forwards with my fresh portfolio.  But, hey, it was easy money and it filled the gap perfectly. By Saturday evening the feeling of foreboding was extinguishing the euphoria. By Sunday morning, I was emailing and phoning to say ‘I’m sorry on reflection I’m not going to be able to be involved’. 

After some incredulity, my potential new colleagues accepted the decision. 

 ‘Sorry about that’ I said ‘how can I get the information memorandum back to you’.  

‘Don’t worry’ they said ‘we have other copies, but you do need to destroy it’.

No problem

As I watched the flames flickering on the hastily assembled bonfire, a warm glow of realisation replaced all the feelings of dullness or regret.  As the fire licked around the information memorandum, it wasn’t an opportunity that was going up in smoke but an attachment to the past.  That was then and just reliving it for the sake of money was not why I had started a portfolio life.  

I wanted new journeys, new learning and new experiences.  The flames had a sense of rebirth as they lit up the darkening sky

The toast that evening was to the future not the past, and the rest of the story is not, as they say, history but the present. 

The episode was a surprising revelation to me, a big turning point and a major threshold in my portfolio. I went on to refocus my time into coaching and writing, following what I love doing rather than following the money. The money flowed in anyway, as Nick Williams suggested it would in ‘The Work you were born to do’ …and as I’ve advised many others through coaching sessions since!!


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