As strange as it may sound, I am so grateful for 2020, and the COVID lockdown period. Why? Because it has forced me to slow down. I’m a striver and an achiever, and for much of my life, I have felt the need to always be busy and rushing to be seen as productive and valuable in my own eyes. What a crock of sh#@t! There have been so many times, running behind as per usual, I have found myself rushing to get out of the house, into my car and on the way. I would have my hands full of books, bags, food and drink for my journey, and then come to the front door to pick up my car keys. Hmm, how am I going to do that? I would try to manoeuvre the stuff in my hands to under my arms, my chin or between my legs so I could pick up my keys but would inevitably drop everything. Then, I realised, maybe If I just let go of everything I was holding, I could easily pick up the keys.
As simple as it sounds, if we are holding on to so much stuff, stopping us achieving what we want and really enjoying our lives, then we need to let some things go. There is a wonderful feeling of freedom, when we let go of the stuff that’s not serving us. In my life, and possibly yours, I know there are three areas I need to let things go. Firstly, I need to let go of things and relationships I’m holding on to that are not serving me or bringing joy and/or purpose into my life. Secondly, I definitely need to let go of limiting thoughts and beliefs that are holding me back. Thirdly, I need to let go of emotions that are damaging me.
I have had a beautiful week just gone, and a highlight was lunch with my dad and his partner Annette. I hadn’t physically seen them for many months, so it was awesome to hug them and spend great time with them. Annette told me that her mother was turning 100-years-old next week. Wow! She had already received messages from the Queen and the Prime Minister and is on the verge of celebrating a momentous occasion. When I asked Annette what she thought the key to her mother’s longevity was, she told me that her mother never really worried about much and was always able to let things go! She could let go of anger, anxiety, fear and resentment and just easily come back to a place of peace and joy. Boom! There you have it my friend. The key to longevity is avoiding damaging emotions by simply, letting it go.
This pandemic has really helped me to let go the need of being productive and busy every second of every day, and it has made such a difference in my life. Normally, when I have lunch with my dad, I think about what I should be doing, who I should be emailing and the next thing I should be creating. Incredibly, I don’t do anymore, instead I enjoy the moment. Then after dad and Annette left, I took Joia for a walk on a beautiful day and, about halfway around the block, we sat in the shade in cool grass together for about 15 minutes and just enjoyed the day and each other. I had let go of the need to be doing stuff and could enjoy the peace and beauty of the moment.
What are you hanging on to that is holding you back from picking up the joy and longevity available in your life at the moment? Are you holding to toxic relationships that are dragging you down? Are you holding onto an outdated way of doing things that are not serving you anymore? Are you holding on the ridiculous belief that you aren’t good enough? Are you holding onto thoughts that are not just creating anxiety, fear, anger and resentment, but are also impacting the choices you are making and holding you back from living your best life? Are you ready for my simple, but profound advice… let it go! Yes, it is that simple and it will change your life in an instant, as it has done for me.
In this week’s podcast, ‘The power of faith,’ with Pastor Matthew Law, we discuss how, with a strong faith, it’s possible to let go of many of the things that may be causing grief, disharmony, frustration and dis-ease. It’s a powerful conversation that I encourage you to listen to.
When you are clear on what you want for yourself and others in your life, and clear on your purpose, it’s easier to let go of the things holding you back. With clarity and purpose, you will become acutely aware of what and who is serving you and what and who is not. When you can trust and have faith that everything is okay, that the answer is there, that things happen for a reason and that you are good enough, you can immediately let go of the flawed thoughts that lead to damaging emotions, and start feeling and acting in a way that will lead to, what I like to call, joyful longevity.
It is absolutely a vision of mine to live joyfully beyond 100 years of age, just like Annette’s mother. There are so many wonderful things I plan to do on this planet before my time is up, and I want to get the most out every second that I can. Call me greedy, but I want quality and quantity of life! Every day I that live and learn, I am more and more convinced of one thing. That is, the key to your best life lies in your willingness to simply let it go!
When we think of courage we may go to the movies and think of people like Indiana Jones, Wonder Woman or James Bond. Maybe courage for you is displayed by sporting heroes, business leaders, celebrities or other well-known people. I think we would all agree that people like Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela and Fred Hollow all have amazing courage. I know for me, courage is displayed by many normal people, as they work to overcome undesirable circumstances. Courage is even displayed by people willing to do things that are not easy or comfortable for them. So, the question is; where does courage come from, and, how do we get it?
The greatest misconception about people who display courage is that they are ‘fearless.’ In my opinion, there is no such thing. No-one is truly fearless, however, some people have learned to manage their fear and not let it stop them taking action anyway. The best definition of courage I have heard is from Franklin D Roosevelt, who said; “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” For me, this is the essence of courage, taking action even though the fear is present. So, again, the question is, how do we attain courage?
Firstly, I need to tell you that you have the most amazing potential and incredible capacity for achievement. You are capable of doing and achieving anything you choose, if you are willing to take action. I have absolute belief in you and know that you are definitely good enough. So, whatever you want in your life, go for you, you can do it.
Do you know what I just did in that last paragraph? I encouraged you. Let’s have a look at the word ‘encourage’ for a moment. En-Courage means; to put courage in. What I have tried to do is put courage in you, which I hope helps to make you feel a little stronger and more capable. Think about how you feel when someone tells you, ‘you can do it. I believe in you. Go for it, you are good enough.’ It feels great doesn’t it? And, for a moment, it puts courage in you to help you get started on a fearful or challenging journey. In fact, in an experiment was done on people standing in freezing cold water, it was found that those who had someone there to encourage them, were able to tolerate the discomfort for twice as long.
What happens, however, if you don’t have anyone there to encourage you? What if, in fact, you have people discouraging you and telling you, ‘you can’t do it and you are not good enough’? What then? In this week’s podcast, ‘Choose happiness,’ I speak with the inspiring Amanda Webster. Two years ago, Amanda found herself all alone on the window ledge of an out-of-town hotel room, planning to end her life. Thankfully, she is alive today to tell the story. The question is; who brought her down off that ledge and moved her to make the changes in her life that now allow her to help and encourage so many other people? That person was herself! She put courage in herself.
It is great to have other people encourage you, but if you are relying on other people, then you are going to struggle to find the ongoing courage you need to get whatever job you need to get done, done! Rely on yourself! Be the one who puts courage into yourself. Start telling yourself that; you can, you will, you can improve, and you will do what it takes. Tell yourself that you have the god-given potential to overcome, create or achieve whatever you want. Start remembering the things that you have already achieved in your life and start believing that anything is possible for as you move forward after reading this blog.
I will continue to encourage you as much as I can with my books, my blogs, my podcasts and if we ever get the chance to speak, but please don’t rely on me or anyone other than you. On a daily basis, put the courage in yourself with empowering and uplifting words. Tell yourself you can and you will, and with every encouraging, empowering and uplifting word you use, you will put the courage in to go on and live your best life.
Emotions, hey? They can either work for you in an incredibly positively powerful way, or they can take you down and out and turn potential into pulp. Have you noticed how, when you feel strong emotions of empowerment, excitement and determination you go forth and create wonderful change in your life? Have you also noticed how anger, anxiety, bitterness, fear and resentment can immediately lead to action, or inaction as the case may be, which defeats, discourages and destroys? What if I told you, that you were in control of the direction of your emotions and the path your life takes?
Have you ever worn a pair of sunglasses? When you put them on, what happens to the colour of the world you see? It changes, right? What colour does it change to? Whatever the colour of the lens, right? If the lens is green, the world is green. If the lens is brown, the world brown. If you put on glasses with blue lenses, you don’t see red, right? If you go inside a dark room with the sunglasses on, what do you normally do? You probably take them off I imagine. Then what about when you go back outside on a bright and sunny day? Put them back on? I’m sure you do. So, the concept of sunglasses is a pretty simple one to understand, right?
The point I want to make with this seemingly obvious and inane dialogue around sunglasses is that you get to choose the colour of the lens you look through and you also get to change the lens if you want a different colour, or more or less bright. In the same way, your emotional state is light or dark based on the lens you are looking at a certain situation through, and, you also get to change that lens, if you choose to. Isn’t that amazing news? Well, it’s actually great and tragic news. It’s great because, you get to change the lens, change your emotional state and positively change the outcomes in your life. It’s tragic because, if you buy what I am saying, there’s now no one else to blame for the way you feel or the actions you take as a result. D’oh!
The most powerful example I can think of about the impact of the lens, is when I destroyed my professional football career many years ago. Yes, you read that correctly. I destroyed my professional football career, because of the lens I chose to look through. I won’t go into the whole sad story, but I will say the trigger was when I woke up on a Saturday morning two weeks after the end of the season in 1987 and I read in the newspaper that I have been de-listed from the club. I was the wearing the, it’s-not-fair, victim-minded and it’s-your-fault lens. Through that lens, I saw red and became angry, bitter and resentful. As a result, I proceeded to do and say things that destroyed any future potential as a professional athlete.
Now, had I chosen to wear the, self-responsibility, desire-to-improve and gain-constructive feedback lens, I would have felt very differently and taken some very different actions in response to that event. Had I done that, who knows what may have been the long-term result? So, I want to encourage you, this week, to adjust the lens you are looking through if it’s leading to an emotional state that will lead to a choice that you will later regret. Please don’t ever live with regret, it’s no fun and so easily avoided!
When you don’t get the result you want, put on the I’m-good-enough and I’ll-try-again lens. When someone says or does something that is not nice or fair, put on the I-forgive-you and I-hope-you’re-okay lens. When you make a mistake or a poor choice, put on the I-forgive-me and learn-the-lesson lens. I promise, when you choose the right lens, no matter the situation or circumstance, you will create emotions that will strengthen your physical wellbeing and move you into positive and life enhancing action.
It is our emotional state that has the largest impact on the life we live, so a feeling of emotional intelligence and freedom is one we need to cultivate. This week’s podcast, called ‘Finding emotional freedom’ with Mandi Freger, will help if you are struggling with anxiety, stress or other potentially destructive emotions. My friend, the best thing you can do, when confronted with a challenging situation or circumstance – to insure that you respond, don’t react and build, don’t destroy – is to make sure you choose the right lens to look at it through.
I think, to some extent, everyone’s confidence has taken a little bit of a hit over the course of 2020. There’s a little more fear, uncertainty and conservative behaviour creeping into to everyone’s lives at some level, and even though I talk a good game, that counts for me also. Whilst a little nervous, I had my first real adventure this week since COVID has kicked in, and it was such an awesome experience that I want to encourage you to embrace any and all opportunities for adventure.
I had a school session booked in for last Friday. It had been booked in for several months, and because of current circumstances, I had assumed it would be an online session for this group of year 9 students. Well, about a week before the session, I got an email from the guy who was co-ordinating the session to say they had justified my visit as ‘being essential,’ and so I would be going to the school. Interestingly, my first reaction to that was not excitement that I would be getting out to go to a school, it was actually a little anxiety.
I was anxious for several reasons. The first being that the school is in Geelong, a rural town about 90 mins to two hours from where I live, and I don’t have a driver’s license, so I didn’t know how I would get there. The second reason was one I had fought hard for 8 months and was fear about getting out in public again, even though I knew there was nothing to worry about, the bad news and fear that had gripped the world had infiltrated my defenses. Finally, because I had been at home delivering online sessions for so long, and it had really become my new normal, I was concerned I would not click back into the face to face session as easily.
However, despite my concerns, I decided to embrace this adventure, get out there and make it an amazing experience. The main challenge was getting there, so I decided to catch a train into the city and another out to Geelong. Then I had a friend who wanted to observe the session, who would pick me up from the station, we would go to the school together, afterwards go out for lunch and then she would drop me back off at the station. Sounded like a great plan until the school came back and said that they could not approve her visit, as it was against the ‘COVID’ rules. So, I had to get myself to the school, and then she would pick me up afterwards.
At this point, however, I was committed to and actually getting excited about this adventure. My amazing father, always concerned about me, actually offered to pay for an Uber from my place to the school 90-minutes away, a $150 fare! As much as I appreciated the offer, and told him so, I explained how I was committed to and excited about the adventure of finding my own way there. I think he thought I was a little looney, even though he has got used to that over the years. So, Friday came along and off I went. I caught and Uber to the station, a train into the city, a train to Geelong, got a taxi to the school, but because of roadworks and lots of confusion, I ended up walking about 1km on a dirt road, jumped a locked gate and finally got to the school. Quite an adventure already!
I then delivered this session and, oh my gosh, it was so amazing to be back in a room with real people. I could see their faces, feel their energy, respond to their questions, interact with them and I really feel like I made a difference in their lives. It reinforced to me my mission and purpose in life and it excited me even more to get out, travel, have more adventures and impact more lives, all around the world. I left feeling so incredibly inspired and energised.
My friend picked me up from the school, after her own challenges finding it, and we went off to have lunch at the café she had booked. The adventure continued as, after we were asked for ID at the café, they told me that I could not eat there because I was from Melbourne, the naughty corner of Australia and the world! I wasn’t allowed to eat in any café or restaurant because of the COVID restrictions place on all Melburnian residents! So, we went and bought some take away and sat on the grass overlooking the beach and had a very enjoyable lunch and conversation. Not what we had planned, but an exciting adventure, nevertheless! My friend dropped me back at the station and I got home without any further detours and, as I thought about and reflected on the day and adventure I had just had, I smiled!
I am so glad I did it. I was a little hesitant at first, but so grateful that I chose to take it on. I know life is still a little uncertain at the moment, but don’t let COVID or fear dampen your adventurous spirit. There is an amazing world of opportunity, joy, achievement, significance and purpose just waiting for you. In my podcast with Kim Vandenberg, called, ‘Stay in your own lane,’ she talks about her wonderful adventure of getting to the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a swimmer. She totally embraced adventure in her life, and it has led to some incredible outcomes and opportunities. So, why not you? Get out, while you can, and make the most of every second of the wondrous possibilities and excitement that life offers each and every one of us if we are willing to embrace adventure.
I am taking no credit for this week’s blog, and I am giving it all to the amazing Stacey Copas. This lady has totally inspired me on my podcast this week called ‘Gratitude is a choice.’ She is the one who coined the phrase, if nothing is certain, then anything is possible, and I loved it so much I decided to write about it in this week’s blog.
I really want to encourage you to listen to this week’s podcast, and hear Stacey for yourself, if you haven’t already. Oh my gosh! She will change your life, if you listen and apply what she says. From the age of 12, and after an accident, diving into a shallow pool, Stacey has been a quadriplegic living in a wheelchair. Now some 30 years later, she has found incredible joy and significance in her life. So, when she dropped the phrase, if nothing is certain, then anything is possible, I asked her, ‘what do you mean?’
Now, as I try to explain it, and I won’t do as good a job as Stacey, I want you to think about the immediate impact this statement will have on your life, if you get it, and act on it. She said that it had come up in her life over the last couple of years, but was really reinforced to her this year, 2020. I think we would all agree that in these ‘unprecedented’ times (together, we actually banned the word!), there has been a lot of uncertainty. She went on to say, that whilst ‘uncertainty’ is seen as a negative thing, upon reflection, it meant to her that if nothing is certain, then essentially, we have a blank canvas. If we have a blank canvas, then anything is possible. I don’t know about you, but I love it!
If your job situation is uncertain, then you can go and create any career you like. If your relationship status is uncertain, then you can decide to make it the best it can be, or a find a new one and make it amazing. If your health position is uncertain, then you have the choice to start the journey of creating optimal wellbeing. If you are uncertain about how long COVID will last, then you can use the time to write a book, learn an instrument, start a podcast, start a ‘side-hustle’ business. By the way, ‘side-hustle’ is getting close to be another term that will be banned, as is the word ‘pivot’ LOL!
As I look back at my 2020, I am going to say something that may be controversial to some, and I certainly don’t mean it disrespectfully to anyone who has experienced any suffering or loss in this time. I am very empathetic to those people. I have to say that the best thing that has happened in my life, for a long time, is COVID! Yes, I told you that sounds weird and a little controversial, but let me explain. In many ways; I am a better person, I am able to make more of a difference, I have found a global audience, I have connected with some incredible people, and, most importantly, I have re-built the most important relationship I have, the one with myself.
The uncertainty of my future speaking and mentoring, has opened the possibility of the other ways to help and communicate, and so I have actually moved from a local market to a global one. I am a much bigger thinker and have met and am now collaborating with winners all around the world. It wouldn’t have happened without the uncertainty of this time. I have finally started my podcast, which I am loving and I know it’s making a difference. I doubt whether it would have happened without lockdown and the uncertainty that came with it. I have found more people to help; write their books, improve their wellbeing and enhance their financial position. Without the uncertainty of this time, I don’t think these opportunities would have been a possibility. Most importantly, the uncertainty of lockdown isolation has created the most amazing possibility, the possibility to take the time to get know, like and even love myself. What an absolute gift.
As you move forward in your life and deal with the uncertainty that still lies ahead of all of us, and will continue to do so, try to see the wonderous opportunities that are out there in what seems to be a void. As Stacey Copas so profoundly said, that uncertainty is actually a blank canvas. It is up to you what you paint on that canvas. Right now, as you deal with uncertainty, get excited and be grateful knowing that, as a result, anything is possible.
As I write this week’s blog it is Saturday morning. Let me tell you, I am scrambling. Why? Because there is an incredible live-streamed event happening today between 12 noon and 4pm that I know will absolutely bless some people, and I am working to the very last minute to see who I can encourage to join it. I have no idea who may attend in a spur-of-the-moment decision and take the information they receive, apply it and then take action that changes their life. If that happens, I know they, and I, will be singing!
This is going to sound harsh, but we live in a society of quitters. In fact, we are often encouraged to quit if; there is some kind of risk, we are considered not smart or talented enough or if we try to save face from failing in our attempts. I have done my fair share of quitting things, because; they seemed too hard, I believed was not good enough or my efforts didn’t seem to be working. Looking back at those things, I will never know if I could have actually achieved the end results and been singing with joy, because I took myself out of the game prematurely. What about you? What is it you have quit too soon? What have you given up on and then justified to yourself was the right move to make, when deep down you regret not following through? Hard question, I know, but a critical one if you want to be singing with joy, the way you deserve to be.
You and I have been blessed with an incredible capacity that we rarely ever really explore, unless we are forced to. I want to encourage you, this week, to explore that capacity because you can and because you choose to. I was totally inspired by Derrick Kirk, my guest on this week’s podcast called, ‘It’s not over.’ Derrick was forced to explore his capacity as he was orphaned at 6 years old and homeless at 18. As a result of what he was forced to do to survive, he learned to believe and trust in his own capacity, and now chooses to do amazing things and impact the world in a big way. It is definitely a podcast worth listening to.
Winston Churchill, famous English Prime Minister, kept, as he likes to call it, ‘Buggering On.’ During WW2 the vast opinion in the UK at the time, was to give in to the overwhelming forces against them. However, Churchill stuck relentlessly to his decision, even as his sanity was being questioned, to ‘never, ever give up!’ History will show that his attitude that it was not over, and his iron-clad decision to keep going led to singing and dancing in the streets of London and other cities all around the world.
I played my first senior game of professional football when I was 18 years old in August 1983, and I played my second game, 20 months later, in April 1985. So, what happened in those 20 months? I played every game in the reserve grade team, I played well in almost all of them, and I missed selection week after week after week, for 20 months. What really happened in those 20 months? I made a decision to keep showing up, no matter what. Despite the fact there were many times I doubted myself, threw a tantrum and felt like giving up, I just kept going because I knew it was not over, until I was singing! In that time, I got better, stronger, fitter, more resilient, more determined, more mature and more equipped to be a professional footballer, In fact, the best time of my seven year professional football career, was the 20 months I missed selection every single week.
If you give up, you will never know what you can achieve. So, just know that’s it’s not over until you are singing, and, if you keep going with focus and determination, you will be singing, trust me. Keep going and you will be singing as you reach your wellbeing goals. Keep buggering on and you will be harmonising as you restore the relationship that is fractured. Make the decision, it’s not over until you are humming as a result of your business success, your financial achievement or whatever else it is you are aspiring to.
I say it often, and I will say it again, you are good enough to live the most amazing life you can imagine. The difference between those who do and those who don’t, is not luck, intelligence, ability, age, education or circumstances. Success is one hundred percent earned and owned by the people who know, in their heart, that it’s not over until they are singing. I wish for that you do some singing, as a result of the thing you persisted with, in the very near future.