“Inspiring” - it’s such a powerful word.
I feel chuffed and a little un-easy when words to that effect have come way over the last 12 months. I think it’s perhaps one of the greatest gifts - telling someone how they’ve inspired you.
But you know what… we can all inspire. We just need to find our voice!
As I reflect back on 2015, many people have inspired me in different forms this year, but I wanted to take the opportunity to share my 'Top 10'. These individuals have had a real impact on me this year. I wanted to thank them (hopefully they don't mind the public thanking ;) and to demonstrate the different types of ‘voices’ inspiration can take, in the hope it might encourage others to find a voice that works for them, and collectively – well, wow – we could really knock the socks off each other!
Pete and Kristie Lockyer – who lost their 1st little daughter Lily just one day after she was born prematurely born at 23 weeks - chose to focus their energy on raising funds and awareness for premature birth by founding The Lilyroo Fund - a non-profit fund giving hope to premature babies by proudly supporting the Royal Women's Hospital (Melbourne). They launched with an inaugural bike ride from Adelaide to Melbourne in April this year, with a group of 20 riders and 9 support crew clocking up nearly 1,200kms on the epic 7 day endurance adventure. Pete certainly found his voice, speaking so well and with such passion to various audiences along the way. They've now raised over $200,000 and in June this year couldn't be happier to welcome another little daughter into their life, Phoebe.
The forever smiling Dave Nanfra – who not only inspires me on a personal level during our bike rides and coffees - sharing his perspective, contentment and outlook on life. But the way he embraces his coaching role with the his son's footy team, it’s more than technical footy skills he’s teaching the kids, he’s going well beyond that and gearing them up with life skills that will stand them in amazing stead in the years to come. Ask him about this and he’ll brush it off (he’s that kinda guy!), but you learn a lot pedalling alongside someone on a bike - the world's a much better place knowing the 'Dave Nanfra wisdom' is being shared with these little tackers!
Rick Nooft – who had grown a great love for Nepal, found himself in the Anzac Day 2015 earthquake. He was un-harmed, but instead of heading home to his family, chose to stay and help. Within days he and some friends had a relief fund set up - The New Hope Society. They used local knowledge to tactfully distribute supplies, instead of dumping them and causing friction between communities which can become problematic with large relief efforts. He also published beautiful photos and stories of the ‘people of Nepal’ during the crisis – describing their amazing strength and remarkable spirit through adversity, an inspiring and refreshing perspective to the ‘down and out’ views on mainstream media. They've raised over $80,000 US and are continuing their efforts building schools and coordinating volunteers to help.
Emma Hansen – who lost her beloved husband Mads in August 2014 to Myeloma (a rare form of blood cancer), has shown the most incredible strength not just in functioning and somehow continuing on without him – but she selflessly wrote a piece in the Myeloma Foundation Newsletter sharing her story from a medical perspective, and the course of events that came to a tragic end, so that others reading could ask more questions and potentially not go through what their little family had to endure. In diseases where so many questions just can't be answered, and there is no cure - it's information like Emma's that really needs to be shared with those who need it most, as painful as it is to relive. You're amazing Emma, and Mads would be so proud of you.
Simon Chodziesner – who quite possibly was the first person to mention the crazy ‘Ironman’ word to me as we met doing laps round the Tan. He hasn’t ticked the Ironman box yet, but he’s been running for 20 years and done more marathons than I can count! And amongst other charitable runs for his dear friend Gen who was lost to Cystic Fibrosis aged 36, in August of this year he ran from one end of Ireland to another! Battling the best of Irish weather in The Mizen to Malin - 570km, in 18 days, raising around $5,000 and sharing his amazing journey on a daily blog, as well as being asked to write an article in the Cystic Fibrosis Victoria Newsletter. You're so well respected amongst your running companions Simon - and your efforts in Ireland certainly etched you up a few more rungs!
Belinda Morris – who having completed a Double Degree in Business and Communication, was enjoying a successful (very busy!) corporate career before things went very off track... She found herself unable to get out of bed. After years of searching for a solution she gradually found one in Kinesiology. A concept that focuses on the amazing connection between our mind and body. Belinda found her own wellbeing and purpose in Kinesiology and other complimentary therapies, and has now devoted her career to ‘healing’ others, and helping them become 'bigger and better' versions of themselves. And it's no secret I am one of her biggest fans!
Tristan (RunLikeCrazy) Miller – who cashed everything in to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks in 2010, wrote a book, speaks to schools, business groups (and anyone who’ll listen ;) - launched a running group (who seriously have so much fun!) and has truly inspired more people than he will or could possibly ever know! I'm not on commission - but I do believe in promoting those who inspire, to inspire some more - so if you need another book or a running group to join - check out RunLikeCrazy!
Amanda Campbell – at age 24 was diagnosed with MS, suffered a major attack and was paralysed in hospital, and given a 50/50 chance of walking again. With amazing experts and support around her - she didn’t just walk again, she ran! And has now dedicated herself to finding answers about how she became unwell. She is a proud MS Ambassador and helps ‘heal’ others through Sport Kinesiology and Nutrition - therapies that were instrumental in her recovery, and still continue to be in managing her MS. She also shares her inspiring story with others at various speaking opportunities. “It’s only when the lights go out can you see how bright the candle within burns." These words were part of her speech the 1st time I met Amanda 6 months ago, and they’ve stayed with me.
The beautiful Teresa at Caffe Di Lido – shares inspiring quotes on her blackboard for passers by, she doesn’t always get a smile from those ‘on a mission’ beach walkers, but one morning she told me of how her quote board had quite literally changed a life - one lady shared her story with Teresa, and the remarkable impact seeing one of her quotes had on her. It’s so much more than a morning coffee and chit chat on offer at this beach cafe! You just gotta look up ;)
The teachers at Kangaroo Inn Area School (yep that’s right – best named school in Aus!) - started an initiative where the kids every morning run laps of the oval for 12 minutes & track their combined distance on a map of Australia. Then they head back to class, rehydrate with some water and hop into some delicious fruit before the more intellectual training begins… What a fantastic way to start the day! I was fortunate enough to join in their morning run one day and it was inspiring to see the energy, competitiveness & camaraderie at such a young age. Imagine if every school did this! Kids might stand a better chance learning these healthy habits early on in life... Well done Kangaroo Inn Area School - it's a credit to your team and other schools who run initiatives like this.
And just because I can... an 11th inspirer sneaks into the top 10... not specific to 2015 - but in my un-biased opinion, his voice to the farming sector has been a great contribution to the industry....
John Andre AM – my dad! The AM stands for Member of the Order of Australia, to which he was appointed "for service to the beef cattle industry, particularly in relation to product quality assurance, quarantine and animal health issues and the problems of chemical residues'. He's been on more committees than we can remember, contributed to many farming papers, New Idea have even did a story on him, and he was part of a Big Mac campaign! He’s also played host to many a Danish meat buyer and European restaurant chain, showing them where world class Aussie beef comes from... He's made an impact in a number of ways, both on and off the family farm, and I'd be pretty sure when it comes to quality assurance, prevention of exotic disease outbreaks and the general health of the beef export trade – Australian farming is in a better place because of his efforts, and his caring nature.
These individuals and groups of people are all incredible, their efforts most certainly vary - but what stands them a part is the impact they've had on others. By going the extra mile and choosing to have a voice, to connect and make others part of their journey. A voice doesn’t have to be behind a microphone - it might be a blog, a blackboard, making time to grab a coffee with someone who needs it, a Facebook post, doing a run in someone’s honor, volunteering, mentoring, a quiet huddle with a footy team. A voice can take so many different forms, it just needs to be heard.
A story only inspires when it’s shared, in fact I'd suggest it's only half lived if it's not shared... As the Marketing Guru Seth Godin wrote, “we need you to lead us”.
I recently encouraged a client to write more, people needed to hear what she had to say, but she wasn't confident she was enough of an 'expert’. She came around when I told her she was the ‘expert’ of her own heart and that was all that mattered.
I’ve said this many times but I truly believe we can all have an incredible impact on others. We all do amazing things everyday, just by being ourselves.
There are endless voices up for grabs – find something you're PASSIONATE about, FIND YOUR VOICE and GO INSPIRE!!
(Originally published - 15th December, 2015)