We are all a product of our experiences. How we perceive our experiences is a reflection of our lives and how we think and feel about ourselves.
Millions of people make consistently poor choices to avoid dealing with the fear of "what if". This limiting process is a subconscious mechanism we use to survive modern day life. Which, ironically, creates the exact situations we are working so hard to avoid.
In my experience, this is because we've not learned to interpret our internal messages and we react in a negative way to a positive message that says, "you're heading in the wrong direction, please change". Why do some people make a positive change? For me, this was a brutal life lesson.
We do not change our lives, until our life produces more suffering than we cause to ourselves and this caused me to change my life and to create the Take a Challenge organisation.
Before I explain what Take a Challenge is all about, I’d like to give you a glimpse into my past, and how I went from just surviving, to moving beyond my limited thoughts and actions and onto thriving life.
I've done some amazing things in my life, I've sailed the worlds oceans and seas on a Royal Navy Nuclear submarine. I've surfed in paradise, ran businesses, made money and lost money, met some enourmously inspirational and not so inspiratioal people and I've been lucky to love and lose many times.
I wouldnt change a thing, without my experiences, I wouldnt be who I am today, nor would I have discovered that my journey was all about helping people, but it certainly wasnt an obvious flash of inspiration, it took a great deal of internal work for me to realise what is important in life and to follow my heart, and certainly not always just my head.
Since being medically discharged, from my career in the Royal Navy with a chronic respiratory disease, I’ve had to pick myself up, dust myself off and start again, many times. After leaving the armed forces on a medical discharge, I found it very difficult to settle into civilian life. But I persevered and luckily I had a lot of friends around me, but getting on my feet was no easy task, as always in life, its a learning curve and not always a pleasant one. Within the first 3 years as a civilian, I’d set-up and lost my first attempt at a business (a Sports shop - RIPSPORT) and I lost my life savings, and I'd started a new career in sports coaching (high board diving) and despite my apparent disability a chronic respiratory disease, I ran my first marathon, fundraising for Asthma UK
and slowly learned to exist without any medication, using sport, health and fitness as my cure.
Sadly, sports coaching just couldn't pay (but I loved it), so in my spare time I studied accountancy and IT / software engineering and I started a new career in IT and moved to the great City of London and I kept my Asthma at bay by keeping fit and healthy. Life was good but certainly not easy, but meeting new people and learning new things in a vibrant city inspired me, I worked hard and played hard.
But on the 17th February 2002, it all changed... I was hit head on by a car on my bike whilst training for my first Triathlon. Everything I’d built up was gone, I lost my job and nearly my life.
For the next 5 years I spent the majority of my time having surgery and recovering from various injuries including spinal injuries, even walking was a challenge and because I couldnt work due to my injuries, I started another business, an IT company, only problem was I had no money to start with...
Since my recovery in 2008 without doubt an incredible learning experience on life’s roller coaster, I’ve ran, swam and biked over 6,500miles. I've climbed the highest mountain in Europe and Russia in -40 degree temperatures. I've completed ultra runs, long distance swims and completed an IRONMAN. There have been tough times both physically and mentally. But, despite the odd glitch, I've never gave in!
Giving in would be easy, I've come close many times; mum has had numerous heart attacks since 2007, not helped by being over weight and my little sister lost her baby at 6 months pregnant, but you have to remain strong and to top it off, the last few years certainly hasnt been a bowl of cherries, one of my biggest tests and my greatest learning experience was about to begin.
In the summer of 2012, the business I'd spent a decade building crashed around my ears as the worst of the economy forced me to close the doors and make everyone redundant. Less than a month later my long suffering gran died of lung, and bowl cancer and dementia, and within a matter of months, my grandad also died of the same cancers, my family was having a real tough time of it.
And just to ensure that I really was going to learn, at the same time, I was recovering from a very brutal relationship break-up, if you've ever been in an unhealthy relationship (for both of you) and not really realised it, you know what I'm talking about. In a nut shell, by the time 2013 started, I'd had a complete mental and emotional breakdown, my mental and emotional wellbeing was being challenged. Once I stopped being the victim of life, I started to be the victor. I like to think that I was getting too comfortable and life decided that I needed to grow and learn much more to be able to appreciated the next stage of my life. I've since thrown myself into personal development, to really understand people and myself, much more.
On reflection, a very tough time for many people, not just myself , but looking back almost a year ago when things rapidly started to go wrong, this wasn't the end, but rather a new begining of a greater appreciation of life, change is inevitable and if looked at the right way, it can be a very positive process, not that I would of said that at the time and I've certainly still got a lot of learning to do.
The whole family are working on becoming healthier and because of the work on my own wellbeing, the whole family has a better realtionship, if you want to change people around you, change yourself, anyone can turn a negative into a positive, it needs focus, support and inspiration.
Writing this I still find it incredible that life can be this difficult, but I'm very lucky, I'm fit and healthy and very aware that despite all the challenges, there are others in life, who have a much rougher ride and go on to inspire many, they are an inspiration to us all, which is why I was inspired to create Take a Challenge and tell their stories to further inspire many into positive change.
It’s certainly not been an easy ride, at times it felt like the end of the road, it often still does, but thats the beauty of the story we created each day. But, without the opportunity of challenges, I really wouldn’t have gained the valuable experience I’ve learnt over the last 15 years. I’m lucky, I’ve been able to fight back, to tackle every challenge with tenacity and drive and to get through it.
We all have this ability, no matter what our challenges and I hope to continue to share my experiences, so that you and others realise we are not alone, we can do it together, we can all Take a Challenge and believe in ourselves. I believe in Take a Challenge, and I'm proving it by selling my house to continue to support Take a Challenge, I really hope that it will help people around the world live happier, healther lives.
There is always a way. When things look like there's no way- there's a way- to do the impossible. To survive the unsurvivable. There's always a way. And you? You and I have this in common. We're inspired. In the face of the impossible we're inspired. So if I can offer one piece of advice to today, if you become frightened, instead, become inspired!
I believe we're meant to have incredible experiences, we're not meant to live normal, ordinary lives. Inside all of us, there is an authentic way, doing what we love and creating an extrodinary adventure.
Anything is Possible...