Exactly two years ago, Jack and I launched Lanther Black. I thought I'd mark the occasion by writing a letter to the past. If I had the opportunity, what would I say to our former selves as they embark upon their new adventure?
All week I've been working on my letter, trying to find the right words, trying to capture the right tone. A light-hearted piece with a few pearls of wisdom, that's what I was going for. Something moving yet witty. Something original yet smart.
For 7 days I've toiled, doing everything I can think of to be profound. I've squinted moodily at my laptop. I've pouted broodingly at my coffee. I've rested my chin in between my thumb and forefinger whilst staring meditatively into the abyss but it has all been for nothing. All I achieved was a collection of nauseating clichés and an under-developed joke about aviation. 'Don't be afraid to make mistakes,' I told them. What a load of bollocks.
About 3 hours ago I had enough. I yelled "IT'S ALL SHIT!" at Jack, stormed out of the office and ate half a block of cheese. I then tried to work off the cheese with an excessively intense 'I'll regret that tomorrow' sort of workout to a soundtrack of 90's rap. In between press-ups and squats I bitched about the Dominique and Jack of two years ago. Why should they get a letter? What makes them so special? They should just figure it out for themselves like we had to. Good for nothing scroungers who sat around stuffing their faces so that now I'm forced to plank for 2 minutes a day just to fit into my jeans. Fuck those guys. I then stomped back into the office and hit delete.
I've been running a business for two years and writing about it for just as long. I was as familiar with all the usual platitudes then as I am now. I've heard what they have to say about success. I've seen their thoughts about courage summarised succinctly on a photograph of a mountain and plastered all over Instagram. I know it doesn't work.
You can tell people that smoking kills. You can hide the cigarettes from view and put pictures of coffins on the packaging. Still more than a billion people around the world will continue to light up. When someone says to you, "Don't touch that, it's hot" you may be able to suppress the urge to touch it but deep inside your brain will be goading you. 'Is it really hot or are they pretending? Maybe they just don't want us to touch it. Maybe it feels really nice. Maybe their fingers are more sensitive than ours. I bet we could touch it.' Why would advice about running a business be any different? Of course it's going to be hard, of course you're going to get it wrong. Bite-sized snippets of wisdom from Hemingway and Einstein are not going to make it any easier. We can barely learn from our own mistakes, how are we going to learn from the mistakes of others?
And more to the point, when a piece of writing isn't working which piece of advice should I follow? Persevere because I don't realise how close I may be to success? Stop trying to fix something that's broken and instead create something better? The rules don't work. The formula is broken. Instead of a letter I'll write them the only self-help book they'll ever need:
Just get on with it. The end.
I don't know what else to tell them.
What I do know is that I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who has shown their support for my blog. Whether you read 1 or all 37, whether you hit like or left a comment, whether you shared or retweeted, whether you sent an email or approached me at a trade fair just to let me know that you were reading. Thank you all so much.
Thank you also to Greetings Today Magazine for publishing and promoting it every week for the last 9 months. Thanks especially to Tracey for putting up with 11th hour submissions and letting through way more swear words than we originally agreed upon.
And finally to Jack. Thank you with everything I am. I may have written the words but we make the story together.