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Business lessons from a broken heart

It started with a gift

A little while ago, a close friend of mine had the fab idea of sending me a thoughtful gift.

He had noticed that my business has the strapline ‘Love Business’, so he sent me a beautiful heart, handmade by a local (Glaswegian) artist.

When I received it I was overjoyed. I fell in love with it instantly.

Given that I spend most of my working time in my home office on Zoom calls (other providers are available!), I try to arrange the wall behind me to say something about my background, experience and beliefs.

I thought, brilliant, I can fix my lovely handmade heart in a prominent position on the wall behind me ‘in shot’.

I did this over one weekend, with a lot of care and attention.

The reactions were universally positive; one client asked where I’d got the heart from, and whether she would be able to get hold of one (which I was happy to arrange for her).

It ended in tears

A few months later, I was relaxing over lunch in the kitchen, having left our cleaner, Isabel (not her real name), to get on with her work in my office.

But to my surprise, after a few minutes, she walked into the kitchen, looking down at something in her hands with a crestfallen expression on her face.

She held up my beautiful heart. It was in pieces. She had accidentally knocked it off the wall when she was dusting.

I’m embarrassed to say that I flipped. I reacted really badly. My tone and language belonged in Stamford Bridge when my beloved Chelsea concedes a stupid goal (rather too often recently, but that’s another story).

To her credit she apologised, put the broken pieces down on the kitchen table, and said she would gladly buy me a new one.

To my shame, she then left the house in tears.

My wife Ruth, who had been in a work meeting in another room, came into the kitchen very shocked and annoyed. She had heard the whole exchange.

To cut a long story short, as a result of what Ruth woke me up to, I wrote a long, sincere apology to Isabel for treating her like I did.

After all, she could easily have decided never to come back, but she accepted my apology, and said she’d return as usual.

Kintsugi to the rescue

A few days later, I was still feeling upset about my broken handmade heart that I had loved so much.

Ruth said to me, “Aren’t you always talking about Kintsugi?”

I said, “Yes, why?”, wondering why she had brought it up.

“Can’t you see?” she said, “This is a perfect opportunity to repair your broken heart, using Kintsugi!”

Ruth added, “Isabel has done you a favour by giving you the opportunity to make something even more beautiful than it was before. Instead of being angry with her, perhaps you should be thanking her”.

It was a lightbulb moment.

So, I Googled ‘Kintsugi repairs near me’, and discovered Brandon Le, the founder of Kinboru Studios, who turned out to be a brilliant Kintsugi artist.

And this is the result:

Photo of ceramic red heart repaired through Kintsugi

Isn’t it amazing?

Doesn’t it look fab?

Better than it was before?

Yes, yes and yes!

So, huge thanks to Isabel for breaking my heart, and to my wonderful wife for waking me up (yet again!).


  • Our first reaction/instinct is just that, and not always the whole story. Almost all of the roughly 1,000 entrepreneurs I’ve supported over the past 21 years make decisions primarily on gut instinct. That’s successful up to a point. But, when the business hits what feels to them like a brick wall, it’s crucial to add analysis, thinking and planning into the mix, which is where I come in.

  • It’s a damn sight harder to follow your own advice than dish it out. My own behaviour in this instance proves the point.

  • Every cloud has a silver lining. Yes, yes, easily said, often repeated, one of those tropes that I, (and probably) you, are tired of hearing. But it’s true — check out my Blog entitled ‘Stroke of Luck’.

  • Turning a setback into an advantage. This is a biggie. One of the key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is their resilience; their tenacity; their ability always to get back up after a fall. As a wise man once said to me, ‘Tis no shame to fall, but to lie long’.

  • Everything happens for a reason. Again, easily said, often repeated, and yes it will sound ‘woo woo’ to some. However, adopting this attitude is one of the best ways of dealing with uncertainty and unwanted surprises. Most entrepreneurs want maximum control over their lives and careers, but the big challenge is how do they deal with the ‘uncontrollables’. I recommend trying this belief on for size.

As always, I’m here to support you. Contact me if you fancy a chat.


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