My professional speaking career takes me all over the world and I am privileged in that my story and message resonates across cultures, age, race and beliefs. And no matter where I am in the world, I am commonly asked questions like “How do you do it?”, “How do you find the time?” or “How do you stay positive?”.
I was only 9 when I lost my legs in a train accident. My doctors thought I would spend the rest of my life in a home and not live past the age of 20. So not even in their wildest dreams would they have imagined that I would become an athlete, successful businessman, pilot, surf lifesaver, motor-racing champion and scuba diver, just to name a few of my achievements and hobbies. I bet they would be wondering how as well.
Many people don’t realise that “How…?” is by itself, an irrelevant question. It is a curious one which can be answered only if you know the answers to “What…?” and “Why…?” What do you want to do or what do you want to achieve? Then ask why. Why do you want to do or achieve those things? If you know what and why, the answer to how will always follow. But you should know that sometimes why is a harder question than how.
People think I am extraordinary but I’m not. I’m an ordinary man doing ordinary things. Anybody can race cars, scuba dive, fly aeroplanes, drive the bobsled and climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It may be extraordinary that I do those things without legs.
Some people have been dead for 10 years but they just don’t know it yet. They live their daily lives as other people expect of them, doing things simply because they have always been done. They may feel unfulfilled, perhaps incomplete and often wishing that they could be more like somebody else. When they hear my story, they wonder how they could have a life like mine or do the things I do.
I may not consciously ask myself those 3 questions every day but I always know what and why. I race cars and drive the bobsled because I love speed and the adrenalin rush. My partner and I scuba dive because we both love that it takes us away from the stresses of life. Other people’s perception of my abilities often makes it infinitely harder for me to do the activities that most people take for granted. My “how” is then more challenging but I have never failed to find a way.
Success is something different to everyone. For many it’s health, wealth, security, respect or family. For others it’s choice, time and balance. What is success to you? What is your “what”?
Success to me is achieving the goals that I set for myself. I have goals for today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year… So in response to “How do you do it?”, I do it by knowing what and why. For me, it really is as simple as that.