Real men talk about how they’re feeling. So here goes…I’m feeling f*%king spent. But more on that in a sec.

Let me ask you. Have you ever been held underwater against your will?

Gasping for desperate breath while someone or something holds you down literally or metaphorically, hopefully the latter? Seeing daylight above, feeling like you won’t make it up in time. Only to unexpectedly re-appear above the surface. But the moment your head emerges above the water line, you have to perform like nothing happened.

Surfers know this feeling well. New parents know it too.

Functioning at a high level while completely exhausted & disorientated from sleep deprivation, or worse yet Insomnia, is one of life’s silent battles.

I’m an Aussie family man to four girls. International Marketing Director for one of the world’s largest brands. And Owner of Dear Coco Street Coffee in London. I take immense pride in all three. All three deserve my absolute best, no matter what state I’m in.

But for some reason I can’t sleep. I wake up constantly every night, which means I’ve gone weeks without a deep, refreshing sleep. There’s no sympathy. No tiny violins. No motivational tapes. Just a guy who HAS TO keep going.

A one-person street coffee operation is about as pure as you can do it. Standing on the street, at the mercy of the elements, toe-to-toe with your customers, no bar separating you from them. There’s no front of house or back of house. Its live theatre with no fourth wall.

If you’re tired, hungover or just not feeling it, there’s no “put me on shots”. There’s no “till guy” or “milk person” to front the customer. You’re a solo artist performing live with no back up. When lead singers play stoned or strung-out, they know the string section will mast over the cracks. Not here, not street coffee.

Pumping out 250 coffees on your own, on a single-group machine is intense. Layer in customer rapport-building, retail sales, re-stocking and endless cleaning – it’s an act of multiskilling that would shock the most capable multiskiller.

So, you can imagine the impact Insomnia can have on a street coffee barista. It’s rough.

But in the haze I make a decision. I make the decision to keep bringing absolute energy to everything I do. Energy is choice, especially when dog tired. If you doubt this, then dive into something you enjoy more than anything – and do it tired. I’m quite certain you will shake off how rotten you feel to enjoy your passion. There’s time to collapse later.

When there’s no choice but to keep showing up with excellence, the choice is easy – slide on those big boy pants and own it. Too many people depend on me. There’s too much great coffee out there. The bar keeps getting higher, and it won’t stop just because I’m not sleeping. It’s a relentless pursuit – one that feels like someone holding me underwater with their boot on my forehead.

But here’s the thing, here’s my trick. I ground myself in absolute gratitude. Gratitude is my most dominant emotion. It drives me to put perspective around everything I do, and anything done to me. Gratitude drives me from the inside out, and its not susceptible to tiredness. If I’m grateful, I’ll find the energy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m desperate for this period of sleep deprivation to stop. But while it’s here I’ll find gratitude in my wife, my daughters, my thriving street coffee business, my health, my friends, my passions. I’m so damn lucky to do what I do. That’s enough to shake-off feeling rubbish and keep turning up with excellence. Too many people depend on me, so I need to get to the surface however I can… and perform like nothing happened.

So keep pushing my fellow coffee-industry friends. Energy is a choice, so choose wisely.

About Dear Coco

Dear Coco is a love letter from Anthony and Emma Duckworth to their youngest daughter, Coco. It’s a family promise to create the best coffee experience they can, delivered with a happy heart, using the best partners, products & equipment available.

You’ll find Dear Coco along the River Thames in London. And on instagram.