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.
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.
There are storms in our life, literally and figuratively. In fact, at any one time, we are either in a storm, coming out of a storm or about to go into a storm. That just seems to be the way life is. COVID has been one of those storms. There are also financial storms, relationship storms, health storms, career storms and many other types of storms we deal with on a regular basis. The storm itself is not the problem, it’s how you respond to the storm that matters. I just heard a wonderful story about why it’s important to drive through the storm.
A man and his teenage daughter were driving home after a day out together. The daughter was learning to drive at the time and needed practice, so asked her father if she could drive. Being a supportive an encouraging man, he said, ‘Absolutely.’ They stopped the car, swapped seats and the daughter started driving. The father was very impressed by what an attentive and competent driver his daughter was. After a short time driving, big black clouds started rolling in and they could both see a storm coming. The daughter started to get a little concerned and asked her father whether they should pull over and wait for the storm to pass. The father looked at her and said, ‘No, we’ll be fine, keep driving.’ So, with his confidence in her, she kept driving.
Soon, the wind started blowing and the rain started falling and it was getting quite heavy. The girl, started to get scared said, ‘Dad, I think I should pull over and wait for the storm to pass.’ But again, the father said, ‘No darling, just keep driving through the storm.’ She trusted her father and God, so she kept going. It didn’t take long before the storm really started to reach its full force. There was thunder, lightning and the rain was pelting against the windscreen, making it difficult to see even just a few feet ahead. All the other cars on the road were pulling over and stopping. The terrified girl again asked her father, ‘Shouldn’t we stop? All the other cars are. It’s hard to see and I’m scared.’ The father, in the same calm and relaxed fashion, said again, ‘No, keep driving through the storm.’
Very soon they were through the storm. The rain stopped, the wind eased, and the sun started to break through the clouds. The girl was visibly shaken, but relieved and proud of herself, as she looked at her father, smiling. After regaining her composure, she asked, ‘Why did we keep driving through the storm dad, when stopping seemed to be the safer thing to do?’ The father requested that she stop the car at that point. They pulled over, got out of the car, looked back along the road they had just travelled, and the storm they had just come through, and he asked the girl, ‘Where are all the people who stopped?’ She looked quizzically, shrugged her shoulders and said, back there somewhere, in the storm.’ ‘Yes,’ her father replied, ‘they stopped and so they are still in the storm and will be stuck there longer. We kept driving and we made it out the other side.’
There are two powerful messages in this inspiring story. The first is to keep moving when you are dealing with a storm in your life. Don’t; stop, give-up, have a tantrum, start blaming, go into victim-mode or believe you aren’t good enough. Keep moving forward one step at a time, taking positive action and soon you will be through the particular storm in your life, whatever it may be. The second message is one I believe may be even more powerful. If the girl didn’t have her father by her side encouraging her to keep going, what would she have done? She would have stopped in the storm and been stuck in it for longer, right?
I heard this story last Sunday, and it really resonated with me this week, as I, like many, are travelling through the storm which is COVID19. I have often thought I just need to toughen up and get through it alone, but I have recently recognised that I have people around who have helped me through the storm. There is one person in particular, who has been an amazing friend and support, and has helped me enormously to drive through the storm. If this person is reading this, they will know who they are, and I say, thank you for sitting next to me in the car as I drive through the storm.
As for you, please find someone to encourage and support you as you keep driving through your storm, whatever that may be. In this week’s podcast, ‘Present – It’s your body.’ I speak to the inspiring Dr Kelly-Anne Garnier, who had to drive through many storms to become a General Practitioner. She now spends her time encouraging people, who need help with their mental or physical wellbeing, to present themselves to their GP, or other practitioner, to partner with as they drive through the storm to optimal wellbeing.
Life is a wonderful place, full of amazing possibilities that are waiting for you on the other side of the storm. All you need to do is to find a partner, a coach, a mentor or a friend and, with their support and encouragement, drive through the storm to the sunshine waiting on the other side.
There is no doubt about it, we are living in a time of loss. You and I have experienced some kind of loss so far in 2020. It may have been the loss of a job, loss of income, loss of a relationship, loss of someone close to you, loss of the ability to travel, loss of personal connection, loss of certain freedoms, loss of control of different areas of your life and loss of other things I haven’t even mentioned. The thing I want you to think about, as you read this blog, is, what do you do with that loss?
In this week’s podcast with Marie Alessi, called Loving life after loss, I was so inspired by this incredible lady, that I reflected more on her message. In June 2018, with no warning, her husband and the father of their two sons, died unexpectedly while he was travelling for business. They had an amazing marriage, a strong family bond, and you would expect this tragic event to devastate Marie. Well, the way she handled this tragedy was incredible, as she was immediately able to draw on her inner resources, tap into powerful love, draw from her husband’s strength and find empowerment that helped her move from grief to growth in a very short period of time.
Marie very quickly wrote a book to share her experiences called, “Loving Life after Loss”. When it hit the top 100 list in Australia on day one, she realised she had something the world needed. Only months later she founded a global movement with the same title. Using this empowerment, together with her strengths & inner guidance, she found and created her way back to JOY in a way that now ripples massive impact around the world. I recommend you listen to this podcast, if you haven’t already.
Right now, what loss, or losses, are you dealing with? It’s interesting, and Marie discusses this in the podcast, how society expects us to deal with loss. The recommendations, from various sources, suggest we need to go through the five, six, eight or however many steps there may be in the particular grieving process being touted at the time. Who has the right to tell us how long we have to grieve, be sad, withdraw from the world and just be miserable until we are able to find joy again? Well, let me tell you, if a lady who lost the love of her life can become empowered, find love and joy and move on to help people within weeks, then I’m sure we can all be – almost – immediately empowered by loss.
So, what does it mean, to be empowered by loss? It means, rather than allowing loss to disable us, stop us in our tracks or hold us back, it means finding the inspiration in that moment of loss, to move us into positive action. Is it easy? It’s not hard, it just all depends on your mindset and your desire to live your best life. Like you, I have experienced loss over the last 12 months. In that time, I have lost my marriage, my driver’s license, a large source of my income, and right now I am experiencing a significant loss of physical connection with people.
Did I have some low spots? You bet I did. There have been moments of hopelessness, sadness and tantrums, but I am proud to say the majority of my movement has been forward, with empowered action. Losing my marriage has empowered me to learn the lessons, forgive myself for my poor choices and start in the process of becoming a better person. Losing my driver’s license has empowered me to slow down, be more mindful, walk more, ride my bike more and improve my physical wellbeing. Losing a source of my income has empowered me to find alternatives and, right now, that part of my business is doing better than it has ever done. Losing physical connection has empowered me to become more connected to myself, to God and to really be grateful for the important people in my life.
I am not telling this for you to be impressed with me. Instead, I want to impress upon you, that you have the power to take control of any loss or any undesirable circumstance in your life. So, as you sit, reflect and consider any losses you may be currently experiencing, it is my strongest desire that you will see an opportunity to find joy, and be empowered to use that loss as a catalyst for great things. Enjoy your week and make it one in which you are empowered by loss!
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 in a 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.