What do you do when you fall down?

I think it is fair to say that on this journey of life we all get knocked down from time to time.  The question is, what do you do when you get knocked down?\r\n\r\nDo you choose to stay down? Complain and moan about the situation? Or do you get right back up again and keep on moving?\r\n\r\nCheck out this video showing Nicholi Rogatkin when he falls off his bike and down a 30 foot cliff. It’s impressive!\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

Question: What do you do when you fall down? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Joy of Worrying

I have yet to meet someone who enjoys worrying. Sure, there are people that seem to spend their whole life worrying but I doubt they find any joy in it.

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Mark Twain Quote

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Personally, I don’t like worrying. I have worked hard on myself to stop worrying. That doesn’t mean I don’t, but it means I worry less and I take action sooner. I got one of my biggest lessons about worry when I attended a course organised by Rolf and Awsa Beckman — the people that trained me as a Firewalking Instructor.

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The course was 5 days with Tolly Burkan and the minute I heard about it, I knew I had to go. Tolly is the man who is credited with bringing Firewalking to the modern world. A fascinating man, who has such a lot to share with the world. Indeed, if you ever have the opportunity to train with him, take it! I did and I learned so much about me.

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The course was called The Core Teaching and we participated in a variety of activities that were used as metaphors for learning. I signed up for the course with no idea what would be happening over the 5 days. I didn’t need to know, I already knew I would learn a lot from the experience. We actually never knew what we would be doing until the night before each day (at the earliest).

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During the first 4 days we participated in a sweat lodge, a Firewalk, a sky dive, a vision quest and much more. It was great, I loved it all. I was learning loads. Everything was honky dory. The sky dive didn’t even scare me (much) even though I have a love/hate relationship with heights. Actually, I can’t wait to do a solo jump when the right opportunity appears.

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On the final evening we sat down to be briefed about the final day. At this stage I thought we had done all the “big” challenges we were going to do. But, as Tolly began to chat about what we needed to do the next morning, my heart sank. Before he said it, I knew we were going to be abseiling into a cave. I was familiar with the activities that Tolly uses and the rappel/abseil is the one I did NOT want to do.

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I am reasonably experienced with abseiling. I have done it dozens of times since I was in my teens. It’s never been something that I enjoyed and now we were going to be doing it as part of a course that I had promised to give 100% to, 100% of the time. Not doing the abseil was not part of the equation.

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Remarkably, I did not dwell on what we would be doing the next day and instead, had a really comfortable nights sleep. The drive to the abseil site was grand too, I was not going to let the thoughts of what we would be doing get in the way of enjoying the scenery and company.

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Things started to change though when we entered the cave and began to get our harnesses on. I felt sick to my stomach and was full of dread. I could hear the voices in my head telling me about how much I hated abseiling and that it scared me. So, I kept telling myself that the experience would be easy, there was nothing to worry about and I could do it.

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That said, I still had to step away a few times and take deep breaths to calm myself. It was sort of working but the dread was still consuming me.

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We had arranged ourselves that I would be going fifth but as it approached my turn, I told the people behind me that I would go last. And that is when the lesson came.

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Rolf, began to laugh in the way that he does and went on to say in his big booming voice:

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“Wow, look at this! Stephen is so worried about this and loves that feeling so much that he is going to let everyone else go before him just so that he can stay in the feeling of worry for that bit longer. He really must love that feeling of worry because he is going to procrastinate for a while longer”.

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I can still hear his voice and laughter to this day and it makes me smile.

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He was right and I knew it. I was putting off what was inevitable. It was inevitable because there was no way that I wasn’t going to do it. So why was I putting it off? Why was I prolonging the worry, the dread and the fear?

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It was stupid! I knew it was stupid before he spoke. This is the stuff that I get people to think about in my own work and here was me doing exactly what I tell people to do.

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There is nothing wrong with worrying. It’s natural. But we definitely need to be aware of our worrying and stop it gripping us to an extent where is stops us from doing what we want to do or need to do.

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Question: Do you let worry rule your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

What I learned from my first 5 day Fast

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I wrote this article on another blog back in 2013. It’s about why I chose to do a 5 day fast and what happened. I have fasted numerous times since and highly recommend, just make sure to do your research first.

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Planned FastThe most common question I have heard over the last few days is “why are you doing it?” and for me it’s an easy question to answer.

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When I was in Sweden a month ago on the FIT course (Firewalking Instructor Training) one of the participants, Martins, had just completed a fast.  We were chatting about it and I distinctly remember thinking “there is no way I could do that”.  The very thought of not eating for one day never mind 3, 5 or whatever amount of days seemed so alien to me, that doing it seemed impossible.

\r\nWith that thought I knew I had to fast.  I knew it wasn’t impossible – if other people have done it why couldn’t I?  I knew it would probably be pretty tough and with tough comes reward.\r\n\r\nThat was enough motivation for me to do some research when I got home.  I knew I was going to do it and for some reason I seemed to settle on the idea of fasting for 5 days.  That said, I did read that you should take it each day as it comes as opposed to setting a certain number of days.  Well, I don’t always listen to what I hear or read and was still set on 5 days with the concession that I would decide each morning if I was going to do another day.\r\n\r\nNext thing was to choose a 5 day period when work would not be so taxing.  I couldn’t imagine doing 2 or 3 Coasteering sessions a day while fasting would be that good for me.\r\n\r\nSo, Sunday night saw me finish my last meal just before 9.00pm.  I went to bed feeling positive and confident in my endeavours and probably with a bit more water in my system than I would usually have.\r\n\r\nMonday morning came and it wasn’t too long before my stomach shouted, “time for breakfast”.  I easily pushed this to the side and got stuck in to writing an article I needed to hand in that morning.  Plenty of water to sip on when thoughts of food came to mind.\r\n\r\nFirst real challenge came around midday when I went to the kitchen to get more water and spied a banana.  Any other day of the week I would have had that banana eaten on sight.  Yep, I was definitely hungry now.\r\n\r\nBy this stage I am sure I had drank 3-4 pints of water but I was feeling a sore head coming on.  That sore head came and it never really shifted until this morning.  It was more like a dull ache at the front of my head above my left eye.  No matter how much water I drank it wouldn’t shift.\r\n\r\nThe afternoon was interesting.  As you would expect I was fine when I was busy but when the mind wandered it wandered to pictures of food.  Spotting a few pictures of food on Facebook didn’t really help either – thanks Birdcage!\r\n\r\nI got a call from a close friend late afternoon and we chatted about my fast – for the next 40 minutes there was absolutely no discomfort.\r\n\r\nThe thoughts of eating and not eating stayed with me for the rest of the day and night.  A chat on Facebook with Martins (my inspiration for this challenge) was really helpful.\r\n\r\nI could go on and on about the feelings and thoughts I had.  I could chat about watching two friends eating dinner and chocolate mouse last night or the smell of coffee but that would make a mighty long blog post.\r\n\r\nI wanted to be extremely conscious to the voices in my head.  The one that keeps me in a box and the one that wants me to be better than I am.  The latter is often the one that takes the harder path and is not heard.  Bit like having the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other.\r\n\r\nI have learned a lot about me from the experience and I have no shame in saying I fasted for 60 hours and 30 minutes before I had two slices of toast, water and a black coffee.  I found the whole experience to be tough but not impossible.  I found my thought processes very interesting and valuable for my own personal development.\r\n\r\nIt was interesting too, how other people reacted to what I was doing.  Some people thought I was dieting, some understood exactly what I was doing without me even saying and others thought I was “mad” but most, no matter what they thought, were 100% supportive and that’s something that I cherish, so thank you all.\r\n\r\nSo what did I learn…?\r\n

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  • Don’t be quick to say something is impossible
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  • Keep an open mind to your thoughts and really listen to them, untangle the thoughts and make decisons based on what you want
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  • Appreciate yourself at all times
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  • Appreciate your friends and family even when they don’t understand you
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\r\nSo, if you want to challenge yourself, why not try fasting for a day and really get to listen to yourself!\r\n\r\nRespect to Martins, keep going with your 10 day fast #respect\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

Everybody’s Everest is a different height!

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Everybody’s Everest is a different height!  This might seem a bit strange, but unless someone corrects me, I believe I coined this phrase. Not that it really matters although it is great to hear it being quoted back at me.

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\r\n\r\nMy everest\r\n\r\nI remember the first time I started thinking this way back in 2010. I used to give out stickers to everyone that went Coasteering with me. The sticker said “I jumped off a cliff and I loved it”.\r\n\r\n\r\nA friend of mine went Coasteering and she had a real fear of her head going under the water. At the end of the Coasteering trip she had done none of the jumps. We all went to the Harbour in Ballintoy and she jumped off the bottom rung of the ladder. She really pushed her comfort levels and the sense of achievement was tremendous.\r\n\r\nHer daughter challenged her about claiming a sticker, saying something along the lines of “but you didn’t jump off a cliff!”. I remember explaining that everyone’s cliff is a different height in terms of what we are comfortable with – I think she understood me.\r\n\r\nMore recently I ran a 10K with a friend who wanted to challenge her fears about running. It was a tough challenge for her and only last night she reminded me that I said to her “this is your marathon”. Much the same as jumping from a height in to the sea can be challenging for some people at 1 foot and for others they need to go to 30 feet or higher; running a race is of marathon proportion depending on your comfort level.\r\n\r\nWhat has struck me though is that I ran a course last week about fears, confidence and comfort zones. I got a trusted friend, colleague, entrepreneur and all round good guy to follow up with the participants this week.\r\n\r\nWhen he called me to discuss the feedback from the first 2 participants he interviewed, he asked me “Where on earth did this Everest quote come from? It has struck a chord with them both and they both quoted it to me!”.\r\n\r\nI’ll tell you something, I smiled from ear to ear! Not just because I knew something had made a positive impact for them. I smiled so much because I realised that I have the ability to realise that what might be easy for some people is really difficult for others.\r\n\r\nHow often do we take for granted our ability to do something that others say “wish I could do that” or “there’s no way I could do that”?\r\n\r\nHow often do we shrink away from our Everests?\r\n\r\nToday I challenge you, get a date in the diary and get your next Everest nailed!\r\n\r\n

Question: What will be your next Everest? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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The Fisherman and Businessman

Fisherman and Business Man\r\n\r\nA businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the Businessman complimented the Fisherman on the quality of his fish.\r\n\r\n“How long did it take you to catch them?” the Businessman casually asked.\r\n\r\n“Oh, a few hours,” the Fisherman replied.\r\n\r\n“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the Businessman then asked.\r\n\r\nThe Fisherman warmly replied, “With this I have more than enough to meet my family’s needs.”\r\n\r\nThe Businessman then became serious, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”\r\n\r\nResponding with a smile, the Fisherman answered, “I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs…”\r\n\r\nThe Businessman impatiently interrupted, “Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats.”\r\n\r\nProud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, “Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you’ll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise.”\r\n\r\nHaving never thought of such things, the Fisherman asked, “But how long will all this take?”\r\n\r\nAfter a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, “Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard.”\r\n\r\n“And then what, señor?” asked the Fisherman.\r\n\r\n“Why, that’s the best part!” answered the Businessman with a laugh. “When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”\r\n\r\n“Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?” asked the young Fisherman in disbelief.\r\n\r\nThe Businessman boasted, “Then you could happily retire with all the money you’ve made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want.”

The man who broke the mountain

The man who broke the mountain – everyone said he was crazy, no one believed he could do it!\r\n\r\nDasrath Manjhi\r\n

A man named Dashrath Manjhi was collecting wood for his family on the other side of the mountain. It was long hard work, so his wife climbed over the mountain to bring him some food when she fell. She was hurt and the pot she was carrying broken.

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Dashrath decided that was enough and that he was going to make it easier for people to cross the mountain. He sold the family’s three goats in order to buy a hammer, chisel and crowbar and decided to break his way through the mountain.

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Everyone in the village thought it was impossible and wondered if Dashrath had gone mad. This was too big a task for one man, and how on earth could he continue to earn a living for his family? What single man could break down a mountain that stood over 300 feet high?

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Dashrath could.

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Every day he worked ploughing the fields from 8am until 1pm in order to feed his family. From 4am until 8am and again from 1pm until late evening, he chiselled down the mountain so that he could feed his dream.

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Finally, after 22 years of hard work, he was done. Dashrath had cut a road through the mountain. With just his hands and rudimentary tools, he had created a path 25 feet high, 30 feet wide and 360 feet across.

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Dashrath didn’t stop there. He pushed for the road to be connected to the main road, so that the 60 villages of the Atri region could access it. He walked along the railway lines to New Delhi to submit a petition for his road to be tarmacked, as well as for a hospital for his people, a school and clean water.

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Dashrath passed away from cancer in 2007, but his legacy and dream of a better community live on in the people he knew, and with every life that he helped make easier. He inspired those he knew and continues to inspire those who learn about his story. Dashrath believed that through his work he could uplift not just his family or the village, but the entire community. In doing so, he felt that he would never die.

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Today, his friend Ramcharit Prasad manages the Dashrath Manjhi Welfare Trust to set up an employment training school in his honour. This school would educate and give skills training to everyone, especially to girls, to give them a chance to create a better life in Gelhour. Dashrath is used as an example of motivation for the children. Even when things seem impossible, if you believe in yourself you can create lasting change.

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Two Travellers and the Monk

Two Travellers and the Monk is a great story which highlights the importance of choosing your outlook or expectations…\r\n\r\nTwo Travellers and the Monk\r\n\r\nOne day a Traveller was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another.  As he walked he noticed a Monk tending the ground in the fields beside the road.  The Monk said “Good Day” to the Traveller, and the Traveller nodded to the Monk.  The Traveller then turned to the Monk and said “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a Question?”.\r\n\r\n“Not at all,” replied the Monk.\r\n\r\n“I am travelling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?”\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n“Tell me,” said the Monk, “what was your experience of the village in the mountains?”\r\n\r\n“Dreadful,” replied the Traveller, “to be honest, I am glad to be away from there.  I found the people most unwelcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly.  I was never made to feel part of the village no matter how hard I tried.  The villagers keep very much to themselves, they don’t take kindly to strangers.  So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?”\r\n\r\n“I am sorry to tell you,” said the Monk, “but I think your experience will be much the same there”.\r\n\r\nThe traveller hung his head despondently and walked on.\r\n\r\nA while later another Traveller was journeying down the same road and he also came upon the Monk.\r\n\r\n“I’m going to the village in the valley,” said the second Traveller, “do you know what it is like?”\r\n\r\n“I do,” replied the Monk “but first tell me – where have you come from?”\r\n\r\n“I’ve come from the village in the mountains.”\r\n\r\n“And how was that?”, asked the Monk.\r\n\r\n“It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could but I am committed to travelling on. I felt as though I was a member of the family in the village.  The Elders gave me much advice, the Children laughed and joked with me and people were generally kind and generous.  I am sad to have left there.  It will always hold special memories for me.  And what of the village in the valley?”, he asked again.\r\n\r\n“I think you will find it much the same”, replied the Monk, “good day to you”.\r\n\r\n“Good day and thank you,” the Traveller replied, smiled, and journeyed on.

The Carpenter and The House

A master carpenter who worked for the same builder for over 40 years announced he wanted to retire. The builder told him how much he appreciated his work and wished he would reconsider. But the old man was tired and was looking forward to spending his remaining relaxing.\r\n\r\nThe Carpenter Story\r\n\r\nThe builder conceded but convinced the master carpenter to build one more house before he retired. He would include a $5,000 bonus as a thank you. The builder had a stunning location for this new house and he wanted to build a dream home.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe carpenter was very disappointed at the small bonus, but his last building fee would help him buy a small cottage and he could retire peacefully.\r\n\r\nThe carpenter prided himself on his uncompromising commitment to quality, but on this final job, he cut corners, ignored details, and accepted poor workmanship from other workers. He even looked the other way when some of them substituted cheaper materials and pocketed the difference.\r\n\r\nWhen the house was finished, the builder shook the carpenter’s hand, and with a huge smile gave him an envelope with a thank-you card and a folded piece of paper. When the carpenter unfolded the paper he found the deeds to the house he had just built.\r\n\r\nPhoto credit: Alan Cleaver\r\n\r\n

Question: What lesson do you get from this story? You can leave a comment by clicking here.