What is/was your journey?
To talk about my “journey” makes it sound as if I had a plan. I basically bumbled through life, probably with no real ambition and happy to go with the flow. It would be great to say there was an end goal or a target but it’s never been like that. I was happy when there was a work-life balance and weekends I could do other stuff… motorcycling and paragliding, with paragliding being my main distraction, but hillwalking, cycling, skiing being pretty good distractions too. As long as work was pleasant and the guys I was working with were good people and I thought work was contributing something, it was fine.
But then work stopped being pleasant and the Monday morning feeling dragged into a Friday feeling of “it will soon be Monday”. Then work mates, well some of them, changed (or did I?). When you have an argument with someone at a fairly high level in the company to the point that he is shouting and swearing at you, which is followed by your boss (who might have been called a mate at one point) closing your office door and telling you that you are right, but because of who you were arguing with they would not back you up … well that’s when maybe things started to change.
There had always been a culture of trying to be the best, for example every complaint was considered and analysed and when possible reacted to. We were proud this lead to an amazingly low level of complaints. But suddenly you couldn’t react anymore, the company openly said they never wanted to be the best, just good. A means to improve because of a comment or complaint would be responded to with “we don’t want to spend money if it’s only a couple of complaints and not that serious” … I just wasn’t happy in this new culture and my wife Eilean and I had always said when we don’t enjoy it, it is time to go. We were both not enjoying it. Lucky we agreed!
We wanted to be our own boss and we looked at a few businesses. Warning a shop for sale normally means its dying! Neither of us had any experience in the hospitality trade but fell in the idea and started looking. We looked all over Scotland. We wanted something rural and had figured 4 to 5 rooms should be survivable?
That’s how we ended up here.
What are you passionate about/what lights you up?
Oddly, that has changed. I lived for paragliding and motorcycling. Perhaps telling, as both need your concentration and focus. Trying to thermal up in a tight rough thermal gives you no time to consider work.
Partially, I simply can’t afford it right now, but perhaps I also don’t need the escapism (OK if I could replace my wing and reserve as a bit too old and afford a winter holiday flying, I would go in an instant J). So I miss, it but I don’t need it.
Now we want to run our small B&B and make our customers have a pleasant enjoyable trip. Very simple really!
How do you try to make a difference?
Looking back, I used to justify the vast amount of plastic bottles we pumped out, thousands an hour. I feel slightly guilty now, so we are kinder, I hope, to the environment. And hopefully kinder to people.
What was your biggest lesson to learn?
I wish I had jumped years ago! I guess fear for my financial future stopped me. So I’d say “don’t worry how you’ll get the money to buy the “toys” to temporarily escape reality”. Just escape your current reality!
I was also way too slow to realise the best thing in my life was Eilean. We were both really unhappy at work and our sanity was way more important.
What is your message to everyone out there?
Who am I to advise the world – I got it wrong for so long after all.
But if you are working, maybe with guys working for you, remember what your job is and what you are to your guys…. Would you stick up for a colleague or rather your own position? If it’s for your own position, maybe you need to change your future, too?
You can find Graeme and his wife Eilean’s lovely B&B HERE.