Koh Phangan, Thailand, rocks situated off Haad Rin Beach
In this picture I sit on the rock having first discovered Thailand, loving life and feeling alive with a sense of achievement and excitement for what’s to come. This trip opened my eyes to entrepreneurship in its truest sense, from the hustle of the street food sellers, to the boat trip captains. We slept under the stars on The Beach, attended a half moon party, rode mopeds across the islands and trekked through the hills of Chang Mai. Thailand was a trip of many firsts, I had never experienced water so warm it was like a bath or witnessed the backpackers who made a living from online businesses or were traveling with need end date in mind. The trip presented to me the cusp of my own freedoms, I felt like I had reached the edge and every day I spent exploring whether it was the temples of Bangkok or the remote jungles of the south I was moving the boundaries of my own limitations further out. In a word I was EXPANDING.
What I discovered and was working on
The joy of travel, venturing into the unknown – there is something wonderful about doing it, just going for it fully, getting on that plane, saying goodbye to the world you know and arriving in a new and unknown land. Something happens to the mind as we are exposed to different and inconsistent stimuli, what we once knew is challenged and we are forced to conceive a world beyond our own current understanding and comprehension. It’s as if the rules are broken, our patterns and habits are cut and thrust into new ways of doing things. When you first see a family of four riding down a busy highway on a moped with no helmets, or an elephant walking down the street, it redirects our mind away from the normal and into the sphere of possibility. They say travel broadens the mind, I also think it strengthens it, pushing ourselves to problem solve, use our instincts and judgement to handle new and sometimes difficult situations. It’s like the gym for the mind.
Thai smile – anything is possible attitude – coming from the U.K. traveling through Thailand I was struck by the mindset of possibility found in the Thai people. I vividly remember one occasion that has stayed with me ever since and provided me a clear example of tackling and overcoming problems. During the summer of 2008 I travelled to Thailand to meet a friend. In order to take the trip I moved back home from London and briefly worked for Centre Parks in Nottinghamshire to save up as much cash as possible. Leaving London wasn’t my first choice, I wasn’t too happy about it but it was a sacrifice I chose to make to save on rent and build up a nest egg that could give me the experience of traveling to South East Asia. Fast forward a couple of weeks and we were stood at the foot of a steep hill in the searing heat on Phi Phi island wondering how on each were we going to reach our destination with the numerous bags we had. Our hotel was situated at the top of this steep hill, water was cascading down the hillside and had formed a gully due to a recent downpour. No sooner has we had this thought and panicked about how we were going to tackle this problem a small thin man appeared, he lifted my suitcase and put it on top of his head, hoisted a further two bags up one in each arm and began climbing, half way up he realised we weren’t with him and signalled for us to follow. We were just too stunned to move. This experience stayed with me because here were two well-built guys who immediately focused on why it couldn’t be done, this challenge overcame us almost instantaneously, it’s not even like we gave it ago. And here was a small looking guy who you wouldn’t even think could lift one bag let alone three, up he went, fast as well, in the heat, with the water streaming down and our belongings. It stood out to me that nothing is impossible. And on this trip to Thailand I saw this attitude and mindset reflected repeatedly during the trip. It has remained with me as a lesson ever since. Question what you think is possible, give it a go, take action anyway, solve the problem, who says it can’t be done. I fell in love with Thailand for this reason and the positivity of their people. On reaching the summit and the hotel lobby we gave big high fives and a tip to the man who’d just proved us wrong.
Trusting your gut – you know what is right and what is wrong. Learning to walk away from situations, people and choices that didn’t fill me up inside or weren’t in line with my values or just felt dodgy. Deep down our gut always tells us what is right. Learning to listen to it and then implementing the actions was the lesson for this chapter of my life. This saw me quit my job, stand up for my beliefs in the face of ridicule, it also saw me make mistakes and stay with situations too long that didn’t serve my purpose. I have learned a lot from trusting my instinct and listening to my inner voice. Sometimes when life gets too hectic it is hard to hear, this can be when we are having success as well not just in times of struggle. Listen hard and listen deep, your inner guide is connected to the Universal path you are meant to follow.
Have fun – Life is too fleeting not to enjoy the moment, having fun brings you closer to the present which means you’re really living. Learning not to sweat the small stuff, to know how to not take life too seriously and when fun can be the right path. In times of stress, we panic, blow things up to their worst-case outcome and miss the point of having faith in the world and that it will all be fine. By adopting this principle of bringing fun to the situation, it spins the situation on its head and focuses on what is positive, abundant, and helps connect us to the solution.
On the path to a new adventure
A lot had changed in the five years that had passed since I last sat on this rock previously in 2008. The blonde dreadlocks were gone, the piercings had been taken out and I was on my way to start a new adventure after accepting a job in Australia. After working in London I needed a change, I wanted to be closer to Asia, to have an adventure.
On this trip to Thailand I met the same friend and this time we discovered Koh Tao, the famous snorkelling destination locally named Turtle Island. Tao was smaller than Koh Phangan and had a different vibe, it was a perfectly timed trip.
What I discovered and was working on
Self-love, care, help – working to minimise self-sabotage – this was where I made my first foray into the world of self-help, understanding that in order for self-help to have an impact I must participate, not just read, listen or understand the material. It needed to have a big influence on my actions, behaviours and what I was doing about how I was showing up in the world. Understanding how to do something and doing it are two very different things.
Learning and education – doing an MBA – follow that craving for more, a deeper purpose, your own development, if your company doesn't have the resources for training or just isn’t doing it, you’ve got to do it for yourself. Don’t wait for anyone or anything to get started, begin at once. I found this deeper purpose and love of learning in the friends, connections and experiences I had whilst doing a part-time MBA at evenings and weekends with the University of Sydney Business School. It was here I was challenged, pushed hard to be, do and think different. And I could ambitiously go after the training I craved whilst learning from a network of hungry, driving individuals with an appetite for high performance, debate and collaboration.
This photo was taken a few days after our wedding in Thailand
Reflecting on these 3 moments in time and stages of life over the past 10 years, much like in the 3 photos my vision of life had an ever-expanding view. Like by this point in life in 2018 I had zoomed out yet again, and I had more experience, resilience and ability to deal with problems that were associated with what we wanted to get out of life. I believe that the more we experience, overcome and do in life, the greater our view of what is possible is revealed to us. The problems may get bigger, tougher, but it’s because we have expanded our vision, and allowed them in to be overcome.
In the photo you’ll see my wife and also my 1-year old baby. The joy of having a family, of being a unit and building together is the most phenomenal experience to date. Having a baby changed my life as it does for everyone, but where before I felt I was looking at life fully I realised I had only been looking at 180 degrees. Having a child was like I was now exposed to the full 360 degrees. It was like I had been stood looking out ahead going "this is it, this is all that life has at offer and this is what I’ve got to master", then you have a baby enter your world. It’s like someone walks up to you taps you on the shoulder and says "hey, look at this", you turn around and see a whole other section of the world to discover. That’s what having a baby was like for me, new experiences, situations, problems to overcome, sleep deprivation, responsibilities, love, feelings and drive. It is a profound and life changing experience not just due to the changes to daily living but to my understanding of what it means to live, to be alive and to be working towards a purpose.
What I discovered and am working on
Discipline – this has been a factor I am still wrestling with, applying more discipline to my life, whether it’s in the areas of food, money or work, having self-control and learning to have power over my emotions, not giving in to my every whim or craving, so that I can provide for my family has been the biggest lesson for this year. I am a work in progress with this as new challenges and demands show up to test this principle. I am committed to mastering this.
Habits – having a defined set of rituals and habits that I practise daily has transformed my life, form waking up a 5.30am, to creating pockets of “me time” throughout my day, to how I approach family activities and structure business development, learning, bringing adventure, travel and physical pursuits into my life. Habits are the foundation on which to build a lifestyle that works. From here you become stronger, mentally and physically, are able to get into creation mode, develop your self- belief and are more connected to the Universe.
Purpose – going after my purpose on a daily basis, doing the work, building the business through developing products that add value and help others like my book The Art of Negotiation and the upcoming second title Be The Lion and accompanying online Course. My quest now is build a lifestyle where I can be coaching people one on one, writing more books, writing for publications like Fast Company, Inc, Forbes, SUCCESS Magazine and expand this blog to become a destination for entrepreneurs, go-getters and individuals are set on overcoming big challenges and making it happen.
Courage – having the courage to wrestle with the problems that came with the life I wanted to live. Problems like, how do I build a business that I can rely upon so that I don’t need to work a 9-5 job? What products can I sell? How do I find and create an engaged audience that I can help, add value to and grow with? How do I balance work, building a business, a family, and where do we need to be to make this happen best? Courage has been a big theme of the past year or so since this photo was taken. Whether it’s been learning to deal with uncertainty, taking risks, learning to prioritise, having patience, and knowing when to push.
All up it has been a wild, creative and legendary 10 years full of change, deep learning and growth, I am looking forward to the next 10 to see what lessons, loves and life this brings.