I was 14 when my piano teacher rapped my knuckles with a wooden ruler because I played a wrong note in my lesson. 

The worst thing was knowing how many bum notes were still to come because I hadn’t practised the dreary piece of music she’d handed me the week before. At the end of that miserable lesson, I stopped playing. And I haven’t played a proper piece of music since. 

The truth is, it wasn’t just the ruler that was the problem. It was years of uninspiring teaching, tedious scales and boring music books. The joy had long since disappeared and the ruler just made me wake up to the fact I had a choice.

 That’s stuck with me in running my business. You don’t have to fit into a system or other people’s way of doing things just because that’s how it’s always been. Listening to your instincts and doing things that bring you joy are far more important, and more powerful.

It’s not about shying away from the hard stuff – quite the opposite in my view. It’s about knowing yourself and your strengths, knowing where you thrive and challenging things that don’t feel right.

I’ve had a few ‘ruler’ moments in business which have come back to bite me. A gut instinct I’ve tried to ignore. A project that didn’t feel right. A direction that wasn’t really where I wanted to be going.

Thirty something years on from Rulergate, and there’s a piano in my office. The same one I used to play at home in between those dreadful lessons. I dust it occasionally and push the stool back underneath when my son has been teaching himself something from YouTube.

At some point, I’ll dig out some music so I can play more than a few chords from a Pink Floyd track. Perhaps I’ll just do what my son does and play when I’m feeling inspired. For now, it’s a great big reminder about instincts and choice… and having the courage to snap rulers in half.