As I get older…I may get wiser, but decisions get harder

When I was a young man everything seemed very black and white, decisions were easier to make and the world seemed full of opportunity for a quick thinking entrepreneur like me.

I used to look around at the old farts who had power and think….paah if I were in that position I would rule the world… I was critical, arrogant and a bit of an arsehole. I never had any friends (didn’t see the point) and spent all my time working out how to make my next million.

Fast forward 35 years or so and I’m just beginning to see the error of my ways…

Life is not black and white; it’s actually multiple shades of grey (perhaps not 50 though?) and looking back on some of the decisions I made I do cringe at the reasoning behind them.

It should be noted that I never thought I would live past 40…. so most of my financial planning was based on exiting this world in a blaze of glory at age 39 probably doing 100mph… sideways… on one of my favourite roads in a modified performance car that my wife would have hated. So now I find myself at age 53 driving that little bit slower, going into corners carefully hitting the apex at the right point …and accelerating out with the car fully balanced.

I am also beginning to see that I haven’t prioritised the right things in life? Maybe family and friends should have been a bigger part of my life?…maybe having the next car that goes 0.5 of a second faster than the last one shouldn’t have been such a priority?…

I have always tried to do things just that little but differently but now I’m trying not just to be different but to maybe… make a difference?

Up until recently I would never have entertained the thought that any of my competitors would have anything worthwhile to offer to the world – I simply thought Japanese Knotweed Solutions were the best company out there and that everyone should never use anybody else. I have this year however realised that there ARE other companies out there who have valid strategies and there ARE people who do have valid arguments and valid points to make about invasive non-native species….

An example of my past behaviour would be when I first learned of the bio-control strategies being suggested to tackle Japanese Knotweed by Dick Shaw at CABI. My immediate reaction was that this would be the next biological disaster along the lines of cane toads in New Zealand or rabbits in Australia….how could anyone be so stupid! I was vocal and wrote a blog about the potential problems before carrying out any research or follow up (because …I…was the ‘expert’ in Japanese Knotweed)…

However…once I had listened to Dick Shaw and bothered to understand what was being suggested I realised how dumb I had been …and how the Aphalara psyllid could actually help with our current management techniques and how we could all benefit from a successful introduction of this bio-control strategy.

This episode led to a bit of an awakening within me which in turn led to the setting up of the Invasive Non-Native Specialists Association ( where ‘like-minded’ companies can offer their services to clients. Clients don’t want to use just one company all the time, they want to use a variety of companies and ensure that they are getting the best advice at competitive rates. The idea behind INNSA was to be able to offer a Trade Body that had the highest of standards and the best quality of service with comparable strategies with no ‘smoke and mirrors’.

Invasive Non-Native Species management is a new industry with new standards and new techniques. Over the last few years the levels of service provided have risen as the more experienced companies have refined their strategies and new methods have been tried and proven. This has very much been a learning curve and has seen a plethora of companies come into the field and try to steal work with false promises and dodgy practice.

I have very much seen this as my opportunity to change the market and bring something to the table that will outlive my personal ambitions and provide a reference point for techniques and a somewhere for clients and interested parties to get clear advice with regards invasive species management. These problem species will always be with us – and it is how we manage these invasions that will dictate what sort of environment our children will live in.

It’s not about gaining a new income stream for some dodgy damp proofing company – it’s about our environment, it’s about retaining our native species and it’s about getting the management of invasive non-native species carried out correctly by competent experienced operatives

People often ask why I spend time advertising and speaking about my competitors when I get no financial return from INNSA  – my answer would be that perhaps I’m trying to see beyond my insignificant life and to see something bigger over the horizon….and maybe a horizon not filled with invasive species?

So…I’m older, I’m wiser…and I’m trying to be a better person.

What next…maybe a Prius?


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