I’ve just spent the last 3 days with the most incredible group of people.
When I first met Sam Cawthorn last year, I felt slightly embarrassed I’d not heard much about this Young Australian of the Year (sorry Sam!). Some 10 years ago he’d had a major car crash (involving a head on with a truck...), and was pronounced dead. He was resuscitated, but left with an amputated right arm and a permanent disability in his right leg, and has gone on to make his own unique difference to the world encouraging others to ‘bounce forward’, using his story as a platform to inspire and encourage others to share theirs.
I headed along to a free Masterclass event he was running in Melbourne (almost by chance), hoping to get the odd tip on improving my presentation skills. But the resounding message I left with - was how everyone has a story that needed to be shared.
So convinced by the value Sam gave at this session, I went all out and signed up to a 3-day intensive Bootcamp in Sydney… (of the 'non-physical' variety!)
I knew I’d be challenged in a number of ways by doing this course. None more so than getting up on stage in front of a room full of people I didn’t know. Not only that, but telling my story of Mads and my Ironman in dedication to him, for the 1st time. On stage, and on camera.
But what I didn’t know was how touched I would be by the incredible vulnerability of each and every individual that had also taken on this challenge. And the deep connections that are made when you peel back the layers.
Amongst this beautiful bunch we heard of people reaching the depths of despair and attempting to take their own lives, a mother losing her son to suicide, child abuse, a teacher losing a young student to suicide from bullying, disabilities and deformities, domestic violence, speech impediments, single mums. And it goes on…
But from this very same group, we also heard of representing Australia to win gold and silver medals at the Commonwealth Games, representation at the UN, countless industry awards, books selling out, books hot off the press, and books in the making right now, efforts to rule out poverty in developing countries by skilling people up to set up & run their own businesses, many many lives being helped through grief counselling from someone who’s been there, business ventures pledged to best friends no longer here, people measuring their own success by becoming more of themselves, help being given to break through fear forever, healing pain through the incredible connection with nature, and of miracles within each and every one of us.
I was so touched by the courage I was privy to over the last few days. Many of these individuals had been through the most challenging of circumstances, and yet here they were, stepping up, and investing their time and energy in ‘sharing their story’. Not driven by personal gain, but to help others – with their own example of coming through adversity, and what wonderful gifts they now have to offer as a result. And this doesn’t just happen on a stage or in a book, it goes far beyond either of these.
All I did was dedicate my Ironman to a late friend (and a legend of one at that!). We might have started day one as strangers, but by day 3 the word Wonder Woman was dropped in alongside my name??!! I felt humbled and honoured being in such great company.
The courageous Kathrine Switzer (who I’ve had the great privilege of meeting!), once said, "If you are loosing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon". Man, what I saw, what I felt these last 3 days – listen to some amazing inspiration from this group, and I guarantee you will find faith in human nature once more.
A massive thanks to Sam, Kate, Nick, John, Amy and Drew at The Speakers Institute for creating the environment that made every part of these 3 days possible. I am still in awe of how you actually did it in such a short space of time, but it won’t stop here - I can’t wait to see the impact this crew is going to have on the world in their own unique way, and to continue on the amazing connections we’ve made.
Taking human nature to a whole other level!
The power of vulnerability.
Go deep! For it’s perhaps only when we do that we truly connect.
Watch this clip by Preston Smiles for some more inspiration on the topic of vulnerability... It hit my inbox on Saturday (ironically the 1st day we all shared our stories!), but only just came across it moments before posting this blog... Something's in sync!
(Originally published - 15th February, 2016)