liked it so much, I wrote the forward....
“Gripping the reeds, I crawled out of the freezing water up to my neck on a pitch black night in the middle of Dartmoor. I’d fallen into a hidden crevasse during a night navigation exercise with the Ice Warrior team with whom I was training with for what will be my toughest challenge yet; an 800 mile, three month expedition to the centre of the Arctic. The expedition has thwarted many explorers and our destination remains a place which has never been reached by any human beings. If successful, we will not only enter the history books, but we will be able provide a greater scientific and environmental understanding of the impact we have on the planet.”
I have not entered into this challenge frivolously; it is perhaps an understatement to say that it will be immeasurably dangerous. There are countless unknowns, not to mention the cost. We are hoping we will be able to mitigate some of these with acute preparation, planning and risk analysis. As this book will remind you, if you fail to plan, then plan to fail. It wasn’t always like this. By the time I left school, I’d been bullied, failed every exam and been arrested as part of a shop lifting gang of nine boys. I was good kid, but I was easily impressionable and my self-esteem was non-existent. But, I guess there must have been an adventurous streak in me; I’d also completed two tall ships races, spent five years training as a high board diver and completed the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award as a sea cadet. These were my passions, being active and outside. At 13, I had a few jobs; including paper rounds and door to door lottery cards. It seems that being an entrepreneur was also in my nature.
I’ve noticed that life is never straight forward. Challenges are inevitable; it’s how we deal with them that is important. After my 17th birthday, I joined the Royal Navy. I signed a 22 year contract and I loved it, but that wasn’t to be. After nearly 10 years, I was medically discharged with a severe respiratory problem, within a year I was a civilian. I was devastated, I felt institutionalised and very lost.
My answer was to use this experience as a chance to change my life. I made the decision to start running and set out to run the London marathon, which I did in less than four hours. I also needed to work so I became a Highboard diving coach. But the money was poor, so I started my first business, a sports shop. To be honest, I didn’t have a clue about running a business and fewer than 18 months later, the business folded and all of my savings were lost. So, whilst working in factories, I began studying business and accountancy and completed a Software and IT engineering diploma. I started again for the third time. Within a few years I was thriving as an IT consultant in the Dot.Com Boom in London and what a ride that was!
My recovery was short lived and in February 2002 it all ended. Whilst out on my bike, training for the London Triathlon, I was hit head on by a car and broke my back. Life became very difficult and extremely painful. I was no longer active and this had a serious impact on my mental and emotional wellbeing. I was not just physically broke, but again financially. Often the challenges we’re presented with can appear daunting, sometimes seemingly impossible. It’s tempting to wonder whether we can do it. We may contemplate whether we have the energy or the strength to overcome what we have been presented with.
Experience has proved to me that it is our mind and how we listen to it and act, which determines whether we succeed or fail. Without realising it, I found myself using the approaches that you’ll find in this book to overcome my own challenges throughout my life.
My recovery took nearly six years. I got back on my feet and ran the Chicago marathon in 2008. Since then I’ve run, swum and cycled over 6,500 miles. I've climbed the highest mountain in Russia in freezing temperatures of -30 degrees. I've completed ultra runs, long distance swims and an Ironman. But life loves to continue to throw us challenges, change is inevitable. In 2012, all within 4 months of each other, I lost the business I’d spent a decade building, my long term, toxic relationship ended and both grand-parents died from cancer. Financially, emotionally and intellectually, I had a break-down.
I’ve been forced to start again many times. I’ve picked myself up, and turned break-downs into break-through. I took personal responsibility for my life; I got active, developed my spirituality, examined my passions in life, made plans and took decisive action. Being physically active has helped to keep me going and I now focus on helping others through the organisation I founded, Take a Challenge. With over half a million visitors to the website since its inception, Take a Challenge has helped to inspire others to change their lives through the inspirational stories of every-day people achieving extraordinary things. Now, through the principles contained within this book, you can too.
Founder and CEO
Anything is Possible
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Simon Hartley is an experienced sport psychologist and performance coach.
He helps athletes and business people to get their mental game right. During the last 15 years, Simon has worked with gold medalists, world record holders, top 5 world ranked professional athletes and championship winning teams. He has worked at the highest level of sport, including spells in Premiership football, Premiership rugby union, First Class County Cricket, Super League, golf, tennis, motor sport and with Great British Olympians.
Since 2005, Simon has also applied the principles of sport psychology to business, education, healthcare and the charity sector. This has included projects with some of the world's leading corporations and foremost executives.