In August, my husband Martin, older son Mike and I travelled around nearly all of Ireland for the whole month in our Motorhome.
Not only was this a fantastic way to understand more about Irish history, the links with the British and all things in between, it was also a great opportunity to catch up with some of our friends!
First stop was meeting our friend, Jim, who we know from our home town of Petersfield, who for the last eight years has lived in Dublin. We have seen him since in the UK, but this was the first time for a while and in Ireland. We had a lovely catch up walking around a reservoir in the Wicklow Mountains (well, hills).
Next it was Paul, who I knew from some time back from a co-coaching group in Southampton. He has been back in Northern Ireland for ten years now, and we had a gorgeous day next to the Mourne Mountains, visiting Castlewellan and Newcastle and hearing all about his upbringing.
From here we moved to Craigavon, to meet my friend Stephen, his wife Claire and family. Stephen and I were part of a management development training team three years ago delivering a global rollout; we worked together in St Petersburg, Oxford and London!
Finally I met Christine and Claire in Belfast, both of whom had been instrumental in setting up the Women in Tech Leadership training programme I was privileged to co-design and co-deliver; thanks to the pandemic, a face to face start in 2019 became virtual delivery the following year.
Why is this important?
I like to keep in touch with people, finding out what’s new and hearing their stories. I also love getting to know people more, in a deeper way, finding out what’s important to them, and learning about the differences of living in a different country or culture.
And there’s more.
There is research in the field of positive psychology that friendship, i.e. strong and positive relationships, can make a significant difference to our mental health. These relationships don’t come by accident.
The work of Bronnie Ware can also inform how we can live our lives well, by turning round and making positive choices about what she found about about the regrets of the dying.
Bronnie was an Australian nurse who spent several years working with patients in the last twelve weeks of their lives, and documented their top five regrets.
“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends” is regret number 4. (You can take a look in the article for the others too).
Re-connecting and staying in touch with friends can sometimes take a bit of courage. If I am ever slightly unsure about whether to connect or reconnect, I remind myself to be brave, take a risk, message the person and suggest we meet. Then the rest can happen.
Seeing our friends were wonderful experiences in our tour around Ireland, giving us new experiences and expanding our perspective as well as strengthening our connection too.
And after one month with the inevitable challenges of living in a Motorhome together, I can make a strong case that friendship has been essential for the three of us too!
Coming to you.
I’m wondering, how can more attention to friendship, inside and outside of work, add more value to your life too?
And if it’s time for a catch up coffee, you and me, let me know!
Gill How loves to work internationally with managers, executives and professionals to help them to evolve, stretch and grow their leadership capability. She is a Master Executive Coach and innovative Leadership Developer. If she can help you in developing the potential of women and men in your organisation, contact her at
Photo credits: Michael & Martin How