It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, for personal reasons, and I am grateful to be coming out the others side. It’s been ina dark place and I can only thank the glimmer of light from a few sources that have kept me going. I love this quote from Robert Alden, “There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.” It’s the light of that one small candle, I want to discuss this week.
Have you ever been in total darkness? I mean pitch black and no sign of light? I would guess, quite confidently, the answer is no. I mean, when you are outside on a very dark night and a cloud covered sky, there is still the glimmer of light from the moon or stars. When you are in a dark room, there is a glimmer of light coming under the door or from an electronic device. Rarely, I imagine, would you be in total darkness. Even when your eyes are closed, there is light coming from the image you are visualising. There is always some light, no matter how dark it seems.
Having said that, life can be tough at times. There are people all over the world who are living with darkness in their lives. Darkness in the forms of; sickness, loneliness, isolation, devastation, heartbreak, conflict, discrimination or the many other circumstances that can affect us all, even on a daily basis. If I’m being honest, raw and vulnerable, my darkness has come from a combination of heartbreak, isolation and loneliness. I can say, however, if not for some shining lights in my life, things would be very different for me, and I would not be writing this blog.
One source of light for me has come in the form of my faith with God and the knowledge that I am not alone. Another source has come in the form of people who care enough about me and have been there just when I needed them. The final source of light that has helped enormously is trust in my purpose, and belief that I am going through what I need to go through so I can come out the other side better and more equipped to make a positive difference in the world. That’s why I am writing this blog.
I had an incredibly inspiring conversation with Amanda Campbell on my podcast this week. Amanda found herself in almost total darkness, when at the age of 29, she was struck down and paralysed by Multiple Sclerosis. She was told by her doctor that she may never walk and would be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Then, at her lowest and darkest moment, she saw a light. After her girlfriends had taken her out for a meal and a laugh, she came home, and for the first time since being paralysed, was able to move her toe. The light of hope started shining on her life, and from that point things started changing very rapidly and very positively for Amanda. She is now happy, healthy and successful in her life and I encourage you to listen to my podcast conversation with her.
You may be experiencing darkness in a certain area your life right now. If so, I want to encourage you that the light is there. That one small candle for you may be hope that things can get better. That small source of light may be gratitude for the people who are there for you, the opportunities that exist and the capacity you have to come out the other side. That small light may come from faith that everything will be okay and that you will come out the other side, stronger, healthier and happier than ever.
When there is one small candle, with a tiny flame, it can be used to light another small candle. Then the two candles can light another two candles, the four candles another four, and so on. Before you know it, that one tiny source of light has transformed into a bright beacon shining on the wonderful life that is ahead of you. Just know, my friend, that no matter how much darkness you may experience, there is a light that will shine to guide you back out into the sunlight.
This is a hard lesson to learn, right?Unless of course, you will learn from reading this blog, rather than your own painful experiences. If you are anything like me, you have been spending a lot of time repairing! The biggest, and probably the only downside of being a chronic spontaneous and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants action-taker, is lack of preparation and the reparation that sometimes needs to happen as a result. So, whilst I absolutely encourage spontaneity, some preparation before racing off like a headless chook, will save you from the potential repair required.
My classic repair story was the result of the spontaneous and totally ill-prepared decision to buy a café, back in the year 2000. Wow, it’s hard to believe that was twenty years ago!! I had been a personal trainer for about ten years until that point, and had just spent the previous couple of years learning and getting inspired about the power of good nutrition. So inspired was I that I wanted to share my new found knowledge and predictable system for optimal health, energy and weight loss. Now, keep in mind, my qualifications and experience in the café and the hospitality industry were limited to eating and drinking out socially. So, clearly, I knew nothing.
What would make me think that buying a café was a logical move to get my vision out to the world? Nothing, other than a driving passion and a spontaneous nature. I did no prior preparation into owning this type of business. I did not consider that already working 80 hours per week in my personal training business would be a barrier. My vision was large, my action was swift, my preparation was non-existent and so my results were no surprise. After two years of working more than 100 hours, seven days per week, I was in around $100,000 debt. The reparation had to begin, and, it took years to pay off the debt, and recover fiscally, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Even today, I’m still learning & repairing. After an eleven year marriage, I find myself single again. Why? There are many reasons, that I am not going to go into in this blog, but the number one cause; lack of preparation. By this I mean; lack of attention, lack of planning, lack of self-awareness and lack of understanding. So, again, I find myself in repair mode. I’m repairing myself to be a better partner for a future relationship. I wish I wasn’t here. I wish I had been more aware and more prepared, but, it is what it is. I now have to deal with the consequences of my lack of preparation.
Please don’t learn from your own bitter experience, although you probably have already in your life. Learn from my painful experiences. I teach people, who are writing a book, to spend time developing a great chapter outline and book plan to save time and stress in the writing stage. As I am always learning, and encourage you to do, spend the time in preparation and planning for all aspects of your life. Be spontaneous, but do it with a plan. There is no doubt, it is better to prepare than to repair.
My favourite description of the word faith is; trusting in advance that which only makes sense in reverse. In other words, you don’t need to know how to get somewhere, or achieve something, you just have to get started and then the path will open itself up to you. I have experienced this time and time again in my life. The only thing you do need to realise is that, between where you start and where you want to be, faith alone is not enough. You will also need to move, work, persist and overcome. I know that’s probably not what you want to hear, but faith without fortitude will leave you flailing.
Make no mistake about it – I have said so many times it’s boring and worn-out – your success and happiness in life is not about luck, talent, intellect, money, experience, knowledge or most of the things you may think it is. It’s about faith with fortitude. You must have both parts. Faith without fortitude will leave you feeling calm, but with nothing. Fortitude without faith will lead you around in circles. I want to share an exciting achievement I experienced recently, and, as I thought about how it happened, the words that came into my heads were; faith and fortitude.
Sometimes I’m a little resistant to share things I’ve achieved because I don’t want you to think I’m doing it to impress you. I truly am telling you this because I know you can do the same in your life, no matter who you are or what your circumstances may be. I want this to inspire and encourage you to use faith with fortitude in your own life. In the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of fortitude is; courage over a long period. I would correlate it with persistence and perseverance, but I wanted a word starting with ‘F’!
I am very passionate right now about my purpose of creating a wave of wellness around the world and helping people live a life of joyful longevity. I am confident about my message and I have total faith that it will change lives. On a daily basis, I contact leaders in organisations, on LinkedIn, to try and get into their organisation to share my message and engage the un-engageable to taking positive steps towards living the life of joyful longevity. I send messages, I send emails and I follow up with phone calls until; I either get told to stop calling or I get booked to speak for their company. I truly have faith that if I keep going, I will get the result I want.
Well, I received a message last week from Nicole, the HR Director at a company that I had been contacting since January this year. You can read if for yourself, so you know I didn’t just send her one message and hope for the best. This message arrived on December 5th and on December 13th I spoke to 100 people at an off-site conference in the Legends Room at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Dance until it Rains!
I wrote a book called Dance Until It Rains, about my amazing and inspiring mother, her life and her courageous journey with cancer. She had fortitude like no other person I know. She outlived her predicted diagnosis by 15 years and impacted, and is still impacting, many lives along the way. The title of the book came to me after hearing the story of the Red Indians and their ability to dance and make rain. The truth is that the rain comes, not because of; the dance moves, the whooping and singing or the magic they claim to have. When looking for the answer, the chiefs of very dry tribes found the tribe that was making it rain and asked, ‘What’s the secret?’ With that, the chief of this tribe answered, ‘There is no secret, we just dance until it rains.’ In other words, the answer is faith with fortitude. They knew it would eventually rain, if they just kept dancing!
This is a screen shot I took from the tracking I did on an excel spreadsheet as I relentlessly followed up with Nicole. I do this for every person I am following up. My theory is; I will keep going, with faith, until I either get told to stop calling, or, I get a job. As you can see, this interaction all started back on January 27, 2019. There were several messages left from January to April, and then a flash of activity and hope in April and May. For the next seven months, I got no response from her, with the exception of one message on May 14. I’m not sure what kept me making call after call, when I was getting no response. All I had was faith that if I kept going then I would get the result. Well, it happened as I was walking my dog in the afternoon of December 5, when the text message came through. Then, one week later, on December 13, I spoke at their event. Nicole loved it and said they will definitely be using me again. The secret; faith with fortitude. I get told by people all the time how lucky I am. I believe I am blessed, but not lucky. The things I achieve are not because of luck, talent or intellect, they happen because I combine faith and fortitude with everything I do.
I’m telling you about this exciting experience in my life, not to impress you, but, because I want you to be encouraged by it. I didn’t get the speaking job because I am an unbelievable speaker. I believe I am a good speaker, but they had never heard me speak before. I got it for one reason and one reason only; persistence. In fact, Nicole explained to me that, as they were putting together the program for this day, and she thought about who she could get to fill that speaking spot, my name just instantly came into her head. Why? Because she had heard my phone messages so regularly for so long!
It’s always too early to give up. In fact, there is only one certain way to fail, and that is to give up trying. It was faith with fortitude that helped Colonel Sanders overcome 1009 rejections to find someone who would buy his recipe for fried chicken. It was faith with fortitude that is the reason you have ever heard of JK Rowling and Harry Potter, after more than forty rejections from publishers. It will be faith with fortitude that helps you achieve the things in your life that many people will consider as luck, but you will know better. So please, take this message to your heart, and believe without a shadow of a doubt, that your success in life is inevitable when you combine faith with fortitude.
Let’s face it and be honest; we are all addicted or going to be addicted to things in our lives, right? From a self-help perspective, it may seem appropriate for me to tell you to avoid anything addictive, break all addictions and be a good boy or girl, but it’s not very reasonable. We are human and the human condition leads us into addictive behaviours. I know this because I have an addictive personality, for good, and not so good. What about you? If, in fact, we are going to get addicted to things in our life, then I want to suggest that we deliberately choose addictions that will help us, not harm us.
Every one of us is moved by one of two motivating factors; the gaining of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. We either go to work because it brings pleasure and we love what we do, or we want to avoid the pain of losing our job and having no income. We exercise because we either want the pleasure of that euphoric feeling, or we want to avoid the pain of ill-health. We save our money for the pleasure it brings knowing that we are building financial security, of avoiding the pain of poverty. When you think about all of the choices you make on a day to day basis, I’m sure you can identify the reason for it as either; gaining pleasure or the avoiding pain.
How this can be a massive consideration and influence on the formation of addictions (or habits) is; when and why you choose your motivating factor. You see, we can go for short-term pleasure, which often lead to devastating long-term pain. On the other hand, some short-term pain can, with patience, often lead to amazing long-term joy and abundance. It all depends on whether we can wait for the long-term benefits, or, our impulse control is not strong enough for us to resist this short-term and quick-fix need for pleasure. It is really this desire for a quick hit of pleasure that most readily leads to destructive addiction.
When we feel bad and want to feel better, drugs or alcohol can help us immediately feel some pleasure and comfort. We know, however, the long-term potential for addictive pain here, don’t we? When we try to fast track weight loss, and become addicted to diets, tablets and shakes, the long-term pain will impact many lives. One of my unhealthy addictions was for the immediate attention I got to my athletic body. I was insecure and needed external validation that I was good enough. I gained short-term pleasure through people telling me how good I looked, but let me tell you, it took me down a very unhealthy path. I overtrained, I ate extremely, I was stressed, and I was continually chasing recognition, more and more. I was chasing a tail I could never catch. You see, the greatest problem with addiction is that, with each addictive behaviour, what it takes to receive the same pleasure diminishes over time, meaning the behaviour can, if not checked, grow out of control. We are seeing evidence of this all over the world.
Get addicted to waiting for pleasure
So, my thinking is this; if we are going to end up addicted to certain things, why not focus on and get addicted to the things that are going to enhance and improve your life? The only difference between positive addiction and negative addiction is deliberate attention. You will know that when an impulse strikes, without deliberate attention, it’s very easy to just go down that path of gaining immediate short-term pleasure. With attention and focus, and knowing what’s truly important in your life, it’s easier – not easy – to resist the short-term pleasure, experience some short-term discomfort and bask in the amazing joy and wonder that comes through delayed gratification.
When I decided to become an author, I was working over 100 hours, seven days per week and desperate to get out of my personal training career. Do you think I really wanted to wait two years before I could hold that published book in my hands? No way! I wanted it the next day, but that’s not how success works. It takes time; planning, working, falling and getting back up again, persisting and waiting until the planting of the seed bears fruit. So, this was definitely the case of short-term pain for long-term gain. I have been experiencing the joy and fulfillment of being a full-time author, speaker and difference-maker for over 15 years, as I write this. I am living a life of abundant joy, and I will tell you, it was well worth the wait.
So, what should you get addicted to? Great question. I was in a crazy period of my life; spending 80 hours per week in my personal training business, another 20-30 hours per week in a café business that was losing money every day, and, trying to squeeze time into writing a book. So, I became addicted to the dream of being free. That gave me daily pleasure. Every day as I sat down to find a small pocket of time to write a few words, I knew I was getting closer and closer to that dream of holding my book in my hands, and, impacting lives all around the world. I was addicted to each word I wrote. I was addicted to feeling that my life was changing one word at a time. I was addicted to the belief that I would be living a better life. Every word was getting me closer to that reality. Even today, more than fifteen years later, I am still addicted to writing every day.
What about you? What could you start focussing on, and getting addicted to, that will actually bring you, over time, to the place of success and joy you are aspiring to? The key here is focus and deliberate attention. Without it, you and I will fall for the short-term pleasure attraction that comes with; procrastination, blame, victim-thinking, alcohol, food, diets, gambling, smoking and the other addictions you know you should be avoiding but are stuck in the middle of. Could you get addicted to the feeling of strength and courage it takes to say no to that extra drink? What about getting addicted to the feeling of wellbeing every time you consume some fresh and natural food? Can you get addicted to the feeling of growing financial strength each time you save rather than spend? I encourage you to get addicted to the feeling that you are in control of your life every time you make a choice to do something that, may not give you short-term pleasure but, will absolutely bring long-term joy and abundance.
Addiction is depicted as a bad thing. Well, doesn’t that depend on what you are addicted to? My mother, in her fight against cancer and striving for the desire to be around for her family, became addicted to each new day and the hope of a breakthrough. I believe this was one of the things that helped her outlive the doctor’s terminal prediction by fifteen years. You may think addiction is out of your control, but that’s only if you let it happen without thought or attention. When you are focused on what’s most important in your life, and, when you’re emotionally and powerfully attached to its achievement, you will more likely deliberately focus on the right things and choose addictions that will move you towards it. Deliberately choose your addiction today.
Every few weeks, I need to write a blog for one person. That person is me! Too often, I realise there are still things I need to improve in my life, and, writing this stuff helps me get really clear on my own limiting conditioning, and, moving through it towards abundance. Along the way, hopefully you will relate to this issue, as I believe it’s one of the most common afflictions of the human experience. It is the; leave it to the very last minute, panic and deal with the mess then!Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever been there? Have you ever regretted being there? Are you open to trying a new way of doing things and getting better results? Well, I for one, am absolutely ready, and that it why I am writing this; for me. So, please join me on this journey…
One of the hardest battles I’m continually fighting against is the ‘she’ll be right mate’ attitude. It’s an attitude in which I just believe things will be okay. I become blasé so put things off, and often find myself stressing at the last minute. Now, don’t get me wrong, believing things will work out is a good thing, but, some planning, preparation and balance are needed if abundance is a goal. This is an attitude which has become such a deeply entrenched pattern of thinking of mine, for such a long time, that, whilst I am making some change and traction, it is still impacting my life. In my last blog, I wrote about the need to power-down, and, let me tell you that for a week in Bali, that’s exactly what I did. Unfortunately, it was more because my body said, ‘enough-is-enough’ than me actually allowing myself to power-down before I got to the point of no return.
I will continue from the moment I finished writing last week’s blog, so you will see what I mean. I wrote, ‘I now have another three and a half hours flight time to Bali, and so I am just about to put on a movie and power-down.’ It was not more than 30-minutes after switching off my computer, turning on a movie and relaxing, when my body started rebelling. I had just had a full-on two weeks prior and I had pushed myself physically just past that point of no return. I kept doing things right up the very last minute, because that has always been my way, feeling like I was slacking off if not productive. Well, my body decided to take control and make sure I rested.
I started aching, sweating and congesting, and by the time I got off the plane in Bali, I was feeling very below par. Laura was waiting to greet me, and my plan was that I would be full of energy and ready to spend some quality time with her, but instead, I collapsed and had to sleep, which is just what I did for the for 18 hours out of the next 24. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, I woke up the next morning with three cold sores on my lips. I was a congested, snotty and swollen mess! I spent the next few days recuperating and finally, after much of my stay was gone, I started feeling normal again. I am grateful I was in Bali and with Laura at this time, but I was mad at myself for pushing myself right up to that last minute.
Create a sense of urgency every day!
One of the things I am working on, at the moment, is to resist the urge of thinking I have plenty of time to get things planned, implemented and done. I am doing the very best I can, clearly not always successfully, to create a sense of urgency every day, and take action immediately. There are things I am great at acting on every day, and they continually bring blessings and abundance into my life. There are, however, other things, I just seem to put off thinking that I have all the time in the world, until all that time in the world disappears and I am left with the last-minute dash to the finish line, or even worse, the point when it is too late! Do you relate at all to anything I am saying?
I was just having this conversation with my insurance guy, Steve, this week. By the time you are reading this, the end of the Australian financial year is imminent or has passed. With a few days left, I finally decided to read a letter I received from my life-insurance company. There is nothing more tiresome to me than insurance mail, so I find it easy to throw to the bottom of the pile. Well, I opened it and it said, If I don’t contact them by June 30, my account will be cancelled. Whoops! Panic! I urgently rang Steve, and when he rang me back, he was telling me how busy he was, because so many people left things to the last minute. One guy had just bought a home, and, had only 4 days to get financing and so wanted Steve to fix it for him. I breathed a sigh of relief and thought, ‘at least I’m not that bad.’ We both had a laugh at how this last-minute panic thing is very commonplace.
The issue with the last-minute rush is that, whilst you may get the job done, it’s very difficult to create any real abundant success when you are always chasing your tail. When you are chasing your tail, guess what you are looking at? Certainly not where you want to be or what you want! The thing I am working hard on developing is the daily habit of focussing on what I want, and then with this clarity comes a sense of urgency. This stimulates immediate action, and then, doing a little bit every day, rather that most of the work in the last few moments. It’s funny how there are areas of my life that I have this mastered, yet others when I feel right out of control. I am guessing you are feeling the same way in certain areas of your own life.
Often the things we put off are either the things we don’t enjoy, perceive as too hard, or don’t place a high priority on, right? I mean, if you got a phone call and were told that if you paid to fly to a city 5-hours away tonight, there would be a million dollars waiting for you, you would probably find a way to make it happen, right? Well, that is unlikely to happen, however, if you were to prioritise time every day on your savings plan and income strategy, it would probably be worth much more than a million dollars to you in a few short years. So, the key then seems to be to get really focused on what you want and know that the sooner you get active and into the right habit patterns, the sooner you will be enjoying success and abundance in that area.
As I said at the start of this blog, I am writing it for me, and, I am already feeling better. What about you? I have just spent some thinking about the life I currently live, which I am grateful for and excited about, and, the life I am still working towards and destined to live, it’s got me focussed again. I know it won’t happen by chance, and I know it won’t happen with a last-minute panic. What I do know is that; with clarity, a plan and daily action, anything is possible. So, for me, I am getting started now on things that I would normally put off, and as I am doing them, I will be visualising how amazing it will feel when they are done, and, success is achieved. Abundance will come in the first minutes, not the last, so get started now!