The HR Juggler

Day 23: I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again

Posted on: December 23, 2012

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Today’s post is by Peter Cook (he of the very cool Twitter handle @AcademyOfRock) and as the title of his post suggests, you might be humming a certain song all day 🙂


December’s frosty nights always give me an opportunity to review the ups and downs of the year, with the intention of learning and improving in the future. As I started to write this piece tonight, it occurred to me that life for me this year has been characterised by Chumbawumba’s punk folk songline “I get knocked down but I get up again”.

Regrets, I’ve had a few …

Recession does strange things to people and even as a 54-year-old hippy realist, I’m sometimes astonished at the heights and depths that people are capable of.  A few months back, someone stole the lead from my basement window (estimated to be worth less than £10).  Irritating, as they broke the glass as well, but not really important.  On a slightly higher level, perhaps the most telling sign of recession was when I was asked to submit a proposal for some strategy work for a central government agency of the M.O.D.  There were only four companies putting proposals forward so the odds of winning were good at 25%.  At the final hurdle, one of the larger companies lowered the cost of their bid to zero, claiming that they wanted to ‘give something back’.  The only way I could have competed would have been by offering a brown bag full of money.  This badly crossed my values, having spent much of my early life working at the Wellcome Foundation, which was run with an inherent sense of decency.  The episode made me wonder whether self-employment was worth it, even though I understood why the other company behaved as it did.  Time to get that Chumawumba record out again …

But then again, too few to mention

Low points affect many of us disproportionately compared with the rest of our lives and it’s important to see them for what they are.  Admittedly, this has been the hardest year in business for me in 18 years, with false starts, project delays and so on confounding progress.  However, the upside of this has been the ability to do some things that I would otherwise have missed out on.  Starting with my family, I was able to spend more time with my youngest son James, preparing him for his GCSE’s.  He had to take these two years before normal (the school runs an accelerated curriculum and he is the youngest in his year).  He has worked very hard but struggled with getting the knowledge on board.  So I was able to spend time with Jim getting him to digest his ideas into a condensed form and then helping him summarise them in a highly visual format.  Here’s a page of his GCSE Physics revision.


Whilst I’m not really for force-feeding kids to jump exam hurdles, the two year early approach otherwise forces them to retake exams over and over and this is even more destructive.  Some gentle tlc helped him reach his expectations first time round and he enjoyed the support.

I was also able to spend time getting my older son Tom settled into University.  His needs were trivial in comparison, involving teaching him to shop, learning to iron and offering cooking tips on a low budget!  Adjusting to life without Tom proved quite difficult and I had not seen that coming.  I’m pleased to say that he has had no difficulty adjusting to University life! 🙂

At the pure pleasure level, the recession gave me the time to meet people that had just been “hashtags” on Twitter up till now.  Including Perry Timms, Doug Shaw, Bryan Mattimore, Sarah Miller-Caldicott, Trevor Lee, Simon Lancaster, Penelope Tobin, Paul Deemer, Robert Ordever, The HR Bird and Lara Morgan.

And I got to play in a rock band at a corporate event I organised with Ozzy Osbourne and Ian Gillan’s guitarist Bernie Torme, proof positive that you can mix business and pleasure.  Here’s what Bloomberg TV made of the event.

I also found time to contribute to several charitable projects, the most notable of which was a soundtrack for a film intended to stop counterfeit drugs for malaria killing people in Africa.   The project will emerge in 2013 and I was pleased to be asked to apply my musical skills to something more important than rock music.

Finally, I found the time to write my new book “The Music of Business” and associated iPhone app for release in January 2013.  I was delighted and surprised to get endorsements from Professor Adrian Furnham and offers from Seth Godin and Harvey Goldsmith.  Just Richard Branson to go then … 🙂

I doubt that this level of renewal and reinvention would have occurred without a global recession.  For me, this is proof positive that it’s not what happens that matters.  It’s what you do with what happens that counts.

2013 Resolutions

  1. Standing still during a recession is not an option.  Keep on developing so that you have something to offer people when things start moving again.
  2. Enjoy the opportunities that are afforded by a quieter business cycle than usual.  Family, Friends and new relationships.
  3. When life throws setbacks at you, stop, learn, adapt and move on.  Don’t dwell on setbacks disproportionately.
  4. If all else fails, play guitar!

15 Responses to "Day 23: I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again"

Thank you so much for posting this Alison. It has come to pass that I need the Chumbawumba record more than ever today having just got news that my lovely mother in law has had another stroke and having had the week topped off by dispute to pay for some work I’d been asked to do at very short notice by Professional Services Company RSM Tenon. Ho hum. Looks like it will be a bumpy ride across the holiday period. Even more important to set things in perspective! 🙂 Peter

So sorry to hear your news today, Peter. Wishing you and yours all the very best and hope that your mother-in-law makes a quick and full recovery.

Thanks Alison – we are currently rearranging Christmas around hospital visits.

Great post – I have certainly had plenty of occasions in my life where I have been knocked down and got up again and I am none the worse for the experience!

I guess it comes down to how much one’s feelings are affected by such things Graham. Someone once told me in a deeply ironic way that “values are the things that stop you doing just what you want” 🙂

Peter…Thanks for the mention in your post! I like your slant here. Agree that often it’s the rough spots that set us innovating and seeing things newly. In 1914, when Edison was 67 years old, 13 buildings at his famed West Orange lab burned to the ground. (Historians believe it may have been arson…) The fire occurred right before Xmas, and destroyed priceless documents and artifacts…including voice recordings of famous world figures of Edison’s era, such as Leo Tolstoy. Learning that the replacement cost of the buildlings would be @$5 million with only @$1 million covered by insurance, rather than be dismayed as he watched the buildings ablaze, Edison sketched out drawings of new buildings and new equipment he would install to replace the burned structures. The innovative new technology included Henry Ford’s assembly line. So…when things are difficult, I think of this story. It reminds me that we can push forward even when it appears that impossible odds lie in front of us. Wishing you a joyful holiday!

That’s some disappointment Sarah – all the best from over the pond 🙂

Dear Peter, to steal some words from Seether, I know that you can “Rise Above This” temporary set back – and that there will be more great times ahead. Work is important, but how fantastic that this slightly quieter period has enabled you to spend meaningful time with people you love, to write your next book (I’m looking forward to reading it) and also to use your talents to enhance the world. Here’s wishing you a 2013 that exceeds your expectations…

Hello Kate,

Thanks for the Seether track and may I wish you the complements of the season. All the best – Peter

Thanks Peter for sharing your story with such honesty. Music has such an elevatory appeal don’t you think? I love your choice of songs, inspiring humour, lightness & a chance to get a little quicker out of those pits. I also love how you’ve chosen to use the time to indulge in those things which are so important but easily forgotten in the crazy lifes we sometimes lead. Truly wishing you the very best for 2013

Yes Natasha, we don’t get very far by matching life’s trouble spots with music to enhance them! 🙂 All the best to you for 2013.

Greetings! Surviving is the new thriving. Staying the course is what sorts out the best from the rest. Thanks for the track – going to play it now to rock the office and remind me what it’s all about.

Aah, Failte – fancy finding you here Brian. Good to hear from you and I think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head here. To 2013 !

I’m late, very late – how rock n roll is that? Cheers for the mention in your post Peter – I have enjoyed our meetings and conversations, here’s to more of that this year. And yes – if all else fails, get the guitar out 🙂

[…] Day 23: I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again […]

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