I was born on a dairy farm in Lanarkshire, Scotland, when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

The farm went bankrupt. My Mum divorced my Dad. Let’s just say Dad found golfing at Biggar golf course more tempting than milking cows!

Mum and I went one way, Dad went the other, and I only ever saw him a further 6 times in my life.

We moved to Edinburgh when I was 7 years old, and very shortly after I was sent off to boarding school – firstly at Cargilfield in Edinburgh, and Glenalmond College thereafter. I think my nomadic tendencies started young!

So many people will perceive my upbringing as being very privileged, but little do they know that I was raised by a single mother who had to work two jobs and weekends.

Mum was a PE instructor by day at Newbattle High School in Dalkeith, and then ran a quick-serve fast food restaurant at night, to put me through these types of schools.

Whilst I was the poorest kid by a country mile at school, I got to know many people who became lifelong friends that I still see to this day.

Unbeknownst to me, we lived on a shoestring. My clothes came from a second-hand exchange shop on George Street. I did countless paper rounds in Edinburgh to help out.

At that age you don’t really know any different – and I was happy as a clam. I still look back and cherish it – I wouldn’t change a single thing.

One day at school when I was still very young, I was asked if my tiny kilt was the Duncan tartan. I remember piping up with the kind of great pride only an 8-year-old can muster: ‘No, but my Mum said it was the cheapest one in the shop’. Hilarious!

Adventures in Hong Kong

Mum did eventually get her break in life and began working in Hong Kong as an Athletics Director, where she stayed for the next 17 years.

I can’t begin to tell you how happy this made me. As I got older, I was becoming more aware of the strain, stress, and anxiety she lived with every day.

Once she moved, I’d visit in the summer for eight weeks – the only time during the year that I’d see her. Those summers were bliss – I worked in an outward-bound centre in Kowloon and sailed and windsurfed in the evenings.

When I got older, I worked in some local businesses (including one or two that were definitely a bit dodgy), but Mum knew the owners and thought it was good to experience the dark side!

I also had a very interesting and entertaining friend for a few years called Rolex Wong. We met in the local market. He had supply and I certainly had demand.

My meagre holiday earnings would go straight to Mum to help with my ticket home to the UK.

The kindness of others

My school friends’ parents looked after me too, kindly inviting me to spend my winter and spring school holidays with them. One in particular had a fruit farm near St Andrews where I pretty much spent most of my holidays when not in Hong Kong.

With hindsight, I now see that this particular family understood my bigger picture, but they never mentioned anything or asked questions. Instead, they stepped up and took me in. To this day I am eternally grateful and never forget their kindness, and think of them daily.

You can take the man out of Glasgow…

Mum is still alive today at the age of 90, and lives in a care home in Eastbourne on the South Coast – she’s one of the main reasons I moved down here, and I get to make sure that she has everything she needs. We also get to spend time together – that most precious gift – until we part.

I also moved because Eastbourne is one of the sunniest places in the UK. Everyone has a tan here – which I love. I live on the beach, soaking up the sun and the crashing of the waves.

Eastbourne’s also got the oldest demographic in the UK! People seem very shocked when I tell them I’m probably the youngest person in town by about 20 years. Everything is in slow motion here, kind of like an action replay, which makes me laugh.

Rewinding a little, I went to university in Glasgow. I also worked in bars in Glasgow, bought my first flat in Glasgow, got my first job in Glasgow, bought my first car in Glasgow (£150), played rugby for Glasgow Accies. The one that got away lives in Glasgow, and is now married and has a family.

With the passing of time, I moved back to Edinburgh, then lived outside Peebles, and had a great job at Glenvarigill Motor Group.

My life and existence are all tied to my upbringing, my Scottish heritage, my clan, the Scottish air I breathe, and the amazing cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

So despite moving down south, I can certainly attest to the fact that you can take the man out of Glasgow, but you can’t take the Glasgow out the man!

A chance encounter that changes a life

Speaking of one of my favourite cities – I was in Glasgow on Monday and Tuesday this week, training a company called Fugro.

A large, 9000 + employee-strong business with a global outlook, the team were energetic, international, friendly, and willing to learn. My favourite kind of company.

I then met Stan, part of the Fugro team.

Stan was a lovely guy, with a family. He was local to Glasgow but definitely not from Glasgow. I know a Glaswegian when I meet one!

“I am from the Ukraine, Miles. I’m a refugee.”

On the day after war broke out, Stan packed his car up and left with his family.

Just like that. No choice. No hesitation. Just go and go now.

It took me a minute or two to imagine the pain, stress, anxiety, and emotions such an event would impact on me if I had to leave my life. Just like that. I can only sincerely hope that he and his family find their way back home one day.

But Stan came here with his family, got a great job with a really good company, and despite being forced to leave his home, is making the very best of his new life.

He had a rare quality about him that I don’t often see, and that is hard to quantify. Stan’s energy and approach to life are inspiring on multiple levels. He had an aura about him that made me truly reflect on my own life.

Reflecting on the only thing we truly have: this moment

I was truly humbled by Stan. He was a reminder to me to live in the now. I am not in the least bit concerned about tomorrow. All that matters is today.

Later on that day, I jumped on a train at central station and headed to London Euston.

Meeting Stan made me think a lot about life – occupying my thoughts all the way back to London.

There was total chaos on the Avanti West Coast trains that day, and plenty of people in my carriage getting pretty wound up – winding themselves up, if I’m being honest!

However, I found myself in a very peaceful state. I wasn’t bothered about the delays – I was enjoying just ‘being’.

I felt insulated from everything and everyone. I couldn’t even listen to music I was so calm and relaxed. I noticed my breathing was very shallow and slow.

If you read Eckhart Tolle (The power of now), you’ll come across a phrase ‘the outward journey may contain a million steps, your inner journey has one: the step you’re taking right now. I get it now. Stan was a great reminder. Take just one step.

In September, I will be taking three weeks off and walking a famous pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago, in Spain.

My route is 525 miles. I’ve worked out I can do 25 miles a day for 21 days, staying in backpackers’ dormitory hostels along the way, traveling light, with only 5 kgs. in my backpack, buying food and water along the way.

My plan is simply to ‘be’ – and let the path unfold before me with each step.

You might think I’m crazy, but I believe a challenge isn’t a challenge unless it scares you a little, right? Taken at first glance, 525 miles is huge – but it’s really just 25 miles a day, and I know I can do that.

So I’ll just focus on that day. That’s all it will take. It’s the journey inside that matters, after all, not the external path.

Today’s newsletter isn’t designed to impart pearls of wisdom or give you advice. This is just my story, and how it made me who I am. Maybe it will have a happy and positive effect on you, and make your day a little bit better.

Most of all, I hope Stan and his family are having good days, too.

 Miles Duncan – founder b2b success systems. Transformative LinkedIn and CRM training for Professional Services

I set up my profile on LinkedIn in 2004 and fell in love with the platform. Since 2008 I have been helping organisations implement the rich resources of LinkedIn.

Team Training

For your team take a look at my website b2bsuccesssystems.co.uk

You will also find I offer a complimentary no obligation, LinkedIn team orientation session that many companies have opted for, check it out here b2bsuccesssystems.co.uk/teams

Group Training

I run an 8-week LinkedIn high performance training program, its one hour per week live with me, very small group so it feels like 121.

You learn in small chunks…

Even if you can’t make one of the sessions, everything is recorded and emailed on to you that day. Plus on the ‘Run’ program open access to my eLearning platform.

Take a peek https://startrunfly.co.uk/

Miles Duncan https://www.linkedin.com/in/milesdu