Don’t get ahead of yourself in 2014

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After the year I have had in 2013 this is my mantra for the future…

Goals are about being nimble and flexible.

This time last year I had just returned from  a meeting with my business partners  in Singapore where we had signed off on  a major investment that would allow us to expand our operations  in Asia and also invest  in our media partners in China.

We set plans and goals for the year based on the work we had done to get to this point and were ready to move on to big things in 2013.

Little was I to know the investor would pull out within the next six weeks and our partners in China would not live up to expectations. 

But at the end of 2012 things looked very rosy, our business plans for Asia  were looking good at last and I was fitter and healthier than I had been in decades…riding my bike 3 – 4 times a week…climbing Mt Lofty with ease.

But at 6.04am on Sunday February 24th those plans  changed dramatically as I came crashing to the ground after my back bicycle wheel skidded on an oil patch as I was heading off for an easy ride on a hot Sunday morning.

So planning to fly in 2014 was soon to be replaced with goals that included  learning to walk again.

Amazingly as I lay on the road unable to move my legs I felt remarkably positive…it was just a temporary thing, nothing to serious I thought as my head, arms, collarbone etc were all OK…even as they put me into the back of the ambulance.

I hadn’t been in a hospital as a patient since I was in my twenties so it was all a new experience and one that seemed to be very smooth and almost relaxed and surreal (maybe it was the blue whistle I was sucking on)…so I continued to believe this was short term…a simple break perhaps and I would be out in a day or two.  This was almost confirmed when after x-rays (a very very painful experience) when I was told my leg was not broken…as if that was really good news…but my acetabulum (hip bone) was severely fractured and I would need surgery.

Having been quickly admitted to a ward I had a few days to prepare for what I learned was some major surgery and for life in a public hospital.

Calmly I accepted all this and immediately decided to make the most of it and do all I could to get well as soon as possible. My goal setting mentality and positive attitude kicked in as if I was on auto pilot.

Long term planning went out the window and short term focus became key to my main aim…get back to norm asap. About that time it also became clear that the investment that was all but in the bag had fallen through. As my colleague Mike Oswald says often “Capital is a Coward”  and in this case it had run away at the very last minute.

Fortunately my partner in the UK, Tony Davidson, had a plan B which gave me new hope and with some work we have turned it into a way better opportunity than offered by the original investor.

As I spent 4 days preparing myself for 7 to 8 hours of surgery and a subsequent six weeks in a hospital bed unable to sit up,  I had other things to focus on…keeping the eNova Digital business going and our clients happy as well as rebuilding plans for See Global Media in Singapore.

I also must stay staff and conditions in the Royal Adelaide Hospital were excellent and helped my preparation greatly as I knew I would be very well cared for.

With great support from my daughter and business partner Nikki we prepared well for a new business operating norm and forged ahead.  I must admit with a laptop, a phone and heaps of spare time laying in bed all day you can get heaps done and we did.

The surgery went well…despite an emergency (apparently) when I didn’t cope well with the anaesthetic process and losing enough blood to require a transfusion of 2 litres…and I awoke alive around 12 hours after the surgery started.

So I started the countdown…The surgeon said if all went well I would be able to sit up in 6 weeks and then there would be no reason that I could not go home.

That translated to my first major goal…I was going home in 6 weeks time and had to make the most of it.

So less than a week later when I was told I was about to do what I felt impossible…get out of bed and walk a few steps on the walking frame…I did it…just!

I had to, with some assistance, move from laying at an angle of 30 degrees get myself into an upright position on the walking frame…without sitting. And in the process overcome the feeling that as I stood I was about to pass out.  The pain from my hip was nothing compared to coping with being upright after days of laying in bed.

So my next instinctive goal was to work on this process as much as possible till I could do it by myself.  I was mindful that the physio and nursing staff were very busy but helped as much as possible because I took such a positive attitude to it all…what choice did I have?

My proudest day in Hospital came 2 weeks after surgery…when the Registrar on his morning rounds proclaimed to the assembled posse of interns, physios etc that Mr Carter was the most motivated person in the RAH.  Perhaps this was because every day I wished them all Good Morning and told them exactly how many days and hours it would be before I would be leaving!!

It was in some ways amazing that setting goals and going for them took no effort from me. It was instinctive and I guess this is what I want to carry over into business and beyond in future. Not just being instinctive but being flexible and nimble…Goal Setting is not a set and forget process.

And the decision you make today may be right today but wrong in a month or two…don’t be afraid to change your whole approach.

I could go on at length about life in the RAH and my subsequent move to the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre and I may in future but suffice to say I walked out of there (on crutches) one hour short of the six weeks since the surgery…Mission Accomplished.

In my first weeks in Hospital I had to make another big decision…was I going to ride my bike again. I was helped and influenced by the guy in the bed across from me in the ward who had the same injury from coming off a bike 4 weeks before me.

He had agonised over it as well and had decided that he would go back to the bike.

Once I made the same decision supported very strongly by my surgeon who told me, “Bike riding is very good for you…but as you have proven it can be a little bit dangerous,”  it was all about what I could achieve and when.

So my first goal was to be able to ride on the road, then to be able to join my group on a Saturday morning ride and then to conquer Norton Summit again.

The ultimate goal for 2013 being to go on the ride at 7am Christmas morning that starts with Norton Summit and ends with French Champagne.  Suffice to say I will be there.

Business wise we are not where we would like to be but Plan B has with lots of think time in Hospital etc set us up from a great 2014 and beyond in developing a vision well beyond that of the one we set this time last year.

Not only did I learn about instinctive goal setting I learned a lot more on this journey and that included patience and that you can’t control much in life at all.  But be prepared for anything and then make sure you do everything to make the most of it…no matter how bad it may seem.

While I have made it seem all positive there were very many dark moments but the support I had from those close to me and from those not so close to me was amazing. I think it takes something like this to remind you how lucky you really are.  From visits to emails and Facebook likes, there were lots of people interested in my wellbeing.

In fact some days in Hospital I wanted to put up a no more visitors sign!!

Seeing my business partner and Chair of See Global Media walk through the door, having flown from Sydney for the day, was clearly one of the best moments.

It is easy to say after such an experience you learned a lot and it was a good thing etc and you wouldn’t have it any different.

Yes in some ways to all of the above but I am very glad it’s behind me and very glad that I have achieved so much in 2013 but look forward to 2014 with great anticipation because of what 2013 delivered…the best and the worst!! More about what 2014 holds in a blog to be written over the Christmas break.

Goal Setting is not a set and forget process.

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