Dare to Dream

It starts with a dream and a decision…

Today Anthony Joshua defeated reigning olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle to take gold in the men’s super heavyweight boxing finals, having already beaten him the previous year in the world championships.

What is fascinating and encouraging to me in equal measure is that, 4 years ago, Anthony had never even laced up a boxing glove.

And this hasn’t been an isolated incident either; a number of our medal successes over the last two weeks have come from individuals or teams who have been plucked from obscurity and trained up, just so we had someone to represent us in every olympic event; our medal tally of 29 golds, 17 silver and 19 bronze speaking for itself.

This just goes to prove that with determination, drive, and the right training, anyone with a basic raw talent can go from nothing to being the best in the world at what they do in a very short space of time.

You can bet that, as the curtain closes tonight on a truly historic period in world, and particularly British, history, there will be some budding athletes at home saying “I’m going to represent my country in Rio at the 2016 olympics” – and I truly believe the most determined of them will.

As for me, in some ways I’m glad London 2012 is all over. Inspiring as it’s been, it’s also been a distraction. I’m ready to stop celebrating others’ successes from my armchair now and start celebrating my own. I intend to be at the olympics in Rio in 2016, but as a spectator; having gone from a being a relative novice in the world of self-employment, to being a wealthy, successful expert in my field.

I’m daring to dream – will you?

Learn and Move On

I was surprised at the incredible bias of Steve Cram, Brendan Foster and John Inverdale, following Turkey’s Asli Cakir Alptekin’s gold medal win in the 1500m tonight. Apparently she had previously served a two-year suspension for doping after the 2004 world junior championships.

Cram started the diatribe with “Well that might not be received – and forgive me for saying that – with the most enthusiasm around the world …and to be honest I don’t think it was a race that most 1500m fans would enjoy.”

Well Steve, if you feel the need to ask forgiveness for saying something, why say it in the first place? Im sure if Steve’s protege, Laura Weightman, had won exactly the same race in exactly the same way, he would have hardly described it as unenjoyable.

Foster then went on to comment “well we don’t enjoy distance runners who’ve been banned and come back”, whilst Inverdale threw a loaded question to Michael Johnson – “The sport does not want a drugs offender to be Olympic champion do they and that’s what it got there.”

Johnson replied intelligently, pointing out that “we don’t know the circumstances – at the end of the day, she served her suspension, she’s allowed to run, she’s back in the sport and she will be tested tonight – and no news is good news.”

Do I believe that athletes who take performance enhancing drugs should be stripped of the titles gained from this? Absolutely. Should they be further punished for what they did? Yes, no question; they have denied a legitimate winner their opportunity to properly celebrate their success.

But when a talented athlete takes their punishment, learns from the experience and is allowed to compete in the future, then they have every right to do so, and for their talent to be properly recognised and respected; not dismissed in poor, biased, unprofessional commentary.

Asli Cakir Alptekin has grown up, moved on and put the past behind her – Cram and co need to do the same.

Six of the Best

It doesn’t get much better than this – six gold medals for team GB on home turf. I’m exhausted just from watching it all on TV! It’s amazing to think that, 4 years ago, Jessica Ennis and her coach were sat on her sofa watching the Beijing Olympics, wondering whether they could make it happen in 2012. Thank God they decided to give it a go.

Every dream starts with a decision to go for it. It takes time, patience and hard work. There will be setbacks and disappointments and times when you wonder whether it’s all worth the effort; but oh the rewards can be so, so sweet.

So many of our gold medal winning atheletes have said the same four words over and over again, despite all of their training and sacrifices – “I can’t believe it”. So, even if you have niggling doubts, don’t let those little voices make you give in; or worse, not start at all. If you’re determined enough and get the right people around you, who believe in you even when you don’t, you can achieve your dreams.

Believe. Achieve.

Tour De Force

Bradley Wiggins deservedly graces the pages of our newspapers this morning, having become the first Brit ever to win the Tour De France since its inception in 1903. This is a very special accolade because, for all the records that get broken, becoming the first to achieve something can never be taken away from you.

What I love about this monumental achievement is all the lessons we can learn from it:

1. It started with an idea, a dream, a goal
2. They turned the dream into a plan of how to achieve it
3. They nurtured potential
4. They were absolutely committed and disciplined
5. They made individual sacrifices for the overall success of the team
6. Setbacks didn’t stop them from being successful

And when you really go for it, the results can turn out to be better than you could ever have expected. Three years ago Sky said, let’s put together a team of our country’s best riders and aim to win the Tour De France within 4 years – what happened was this:

  • They did it in 3
  • They achieved second place as well, thanks to an outstanding performance from Chris Froome
  • Mark Cavendish won the Paris leg for the 4th time in a row, crossing the line as current world sprint champion

They also broke several other Britsh records over that 3 year period, whilst getting ever closer to their ultimate goal, each achievement spurring them on towards the next. One person commented that they were reaching a point where history making became routine.

Now there’s a point to aim for.

How to win the rat race…

…or, better still, escape it altogether.

I caught this amazing article on Sky News at the gym this morning

The video at 00.21 states “Trained in a special harness, rats regained voluntary movement in their hind legs, willing themselves towards a chocolate treat. The researchers say that within weeks they became the athletes of the rat world.”

Without getting into a debate on the the whys and wherefores of animal testing, the potential of this discovery for curing paralysis is enormous.

What struck me as most interesting though was the almost throw away line from the reporter at 01.31 in the video:

“The scientists believe the rat’s determination to move increased the growth of new nerves and was important to the recovery.”

With no limiting beliefs, the rats just focussed on the goal of the chocolate and willed themselves to get there, resulting in them not only regaining the movement in their legs, but even surpassing the abilities of uninjured rats.

We should never underestimate the power of belief and determination.

A Difference in Attitude

I met a friend for lunch today.  As we walked to Poole Quay and watched the Sunseeker Yachts idling gently past on the water, I was reminded of a pact we made with each other several years ago; that whoever became a millionaire first would take the other for lunch in Hong Kong.

Today, full of renewed faith in my entrepreneurship, I said to my friend “I haven’t given up on the possibility of becoming a millionaire you know”, to which he replied “Me neither….I’m still doing the lottery!

So who has the better chance of succeeding?  My friend, with his 1 in 14 Million odds buying a National Lottery ticket, or me with my own business?

I surfed the net for a while to try and find some statistics about the odds of becoming a millionaire and, apart from stumbling across some very interesting links about becoming a millionaire in general, here’s one page I found.

Now we all know there are ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’, but since I fall into the ‘owning a small business’ category, I’m happy to believe the 1 in 1000 odds quoted by Super Peter in January 2006, along with the real possibility of being able to improve those odds.

Horizon gems – watch whilst available!

This is a great Horizon programme about the amazing power of the unconscious mind; and there were two sections I found really interesting:

20:10 – 26:48  We’re hard wired to be positive thinkers, because it reduces our stress and anxiety and makes us strive for better.  This is great news – my advice is don’t fight it by being miserable and pessimistic!

32:50 – 39:27 Forming habits allows our unconscious mind to free our conscious mind from having to think about these activities, leaving us free to pay attention to other things we want to do.

I’m a great believer in forming habits for routine work; especially stuff which could be considered a ‘chore’, like washing up straight after eating a meal.  When it becomes an unconscious action you don’t think about it; you just do it, then wonder how the house just seems to keep itself tidy.  That’s a great point to get to – I’m not there yet, but I’m getting close; these days I’m usually no more than 2 hours away from a completely tidy house…

…the loft is another story – when that’s sorted too I’ll really be getting somewhere!

Clues to find the work you love

For me, fullness of life when it comes to employment means loving the work you do.

Here are a few of questions to ask yourself, to get clues as to the kind of work you would love to do:

  • What would you continue to do, even when your body is screaming for you to stop and go to bed?
  • What would you choose to do for free, if money and time were no object?
  • What hobbies do you have? (these are things you do, which take effort, but which you love doing and are passionate about).

For example, I’ve really started properly putting this site together over the past week; and I’ve done it, even though there have been plenty of other stuff I could have been working on – stuff which, in the short term, is more likely to earn me some money.  But I’m enjoying this more!

And I’m sat typing this at 10:17pm, completely bushed from an early morning workout and an evening circuit training session…because I’m passionate about sharing my thoughts with you.

The truth is, I’ve been squirrelling away content ideas for this site for the best part of a couple of years, either on separate blogs, or notepad documents on my PC; I just didn’t have a home for it all until now.

I believe that, if you do what you love, the money will follow, because you’ll be passionate about it and will therefore naturally build your knowledge and skills in that subject; and your passion will be obvious to your clients, prospects and (if you’re employed by someone else), your bosses.  These are all people who can influence your income.

So if you don’t love your work right now, but aren’t sure what line of business to go into, look to your hobbies for inspiration and think of ways you could do something with it.  For instance, as a guitarist, you may not wish to be a rock star or classical virtuoso (or believe you can – more on limiting beliefs in a forthcoming blog), but perhaps you could see yourself in a business (yours or someone else’s) making, selling or teaching.

Some people stay in high paying, high pressured, long hour jobs which they hate, to pay for their expensive hobbies and holidays.  Working at something unrewarding and unfulfilling just for the money is stressful, unsustainable and definitely NOT living life to the full.