Everyone has a story to tell. After all, our past experiences are what shape us into the person we are today. They’re what we learn and grow from, they shape our emotions and how we respond to the world around us, and whether good or bad, they give us an indication of whether we’re heading in the right direction. We all have regrets, things we wish we could change, or do differently, but I believe accepting and understanding your past is one of the greatest tools available to us; something that becomes much easier when you’re willing to share. Part of Bound’s culture is around transparency, having the willingness and the support to share the experiences that have made you the man you are today. In this blog, I’m sharing mine, hoping it will encourage you to do the same.
There were a few words that could have described me when I was younger. Adventurous. Troublesome. A huge Mumma's boy. Mostly I was just excited about life; all the trees and fences to climb and with a tight-knit wider family. I loved sports too, eventually playing at a representative level with all of the valuable lessons that came with it. This was one of my most formative experiences. I learned how to win humbly, lose with dignity, set performance goals and most importantly, how to encourage and support a team. I loved being a sportsman and knowing I was part of a brotherhood working towards a shared goal.
Then the unfortunate happened, something most of us have experienced. Short-term injuries, a commitment to my sport and a bit of youthful naivety when it came to rehab, saw me develop some long-term ones that put the brakes on my sporting life. I was devastated. I think this is something we’re all familiar with. When we hitch our identities to an external activity or lifestyle that stops abruptly, we feel lost. Naturally, I drifted and found the same dedication and fraternity I was looking for, only in a social life. I approached this with the same commitment and enthusiasm, but over time, found those positive habits from the sports field being replaced by less positive ones.
Do I regret this? Hell no. Life is for living and some of the people I met and the experiences we shared created memories that will last a lifetime. It also left me longing for more and if it took those experiences to realise I was looking for something more fulfilling, then they were a blessing in themselves.
This need became even more apparent at 19 when my world came crashing down. My mum, my rock and biggest hero, was diagnosed with cancer. I was with her at the hospice when she took her last breath and passed away within a year. I still remember that moment so clearly, I still remember trying to process what had just happened, trying to process the fact that my mum’s huge heart had stopped, and feeling mine break into a million pieces. For those of you in our community who have lost someone dear to you, you’ll know it’s a pain that can hardly be expressed in words. Even now it’s impossible to quantify or communicate the magnitude of that loss, but at 20, it was impossible. When you’re young and still trying to make sense of the world, our best defence mechanism is often to bottle things up. To put on a brave face and pretend everything’s ok. In my eyes, I also had family to take care of. So that’s what I did. I sucked it up. I found comfort in relationships with close friends, without ever really learning how to have those tough conversations. And I escaped, through nights out, substances and the opportunity those activities presented to just forget for a while. On the outside things looked ok, but inside, I was a ticking time bomb. I started to spiral out of control, with substances, insomnia that tormented me throughout my 20’s and general depression I found inescapable. I’d seen a lot of death at a young age but my mum’s was different. It took me a long time before I realised sadness and self-destruction were a fruitless path. I was escaping, but in the process, I was hurting myself, the people around me who cared about me, and the memory of my mum - the person I looked up to most. The woman I had been determined to make proud my entire life. That realisation hit me like a ton of bricks. Something changed in me suddenly and I decided I wouldn’t waste a single day left on this earth doing something that didn’t fulfil me. To live the life I knew I was capable of, and one my mum would be proud of, I had to see the world.
Travel became a different escape for me. Probably because it wasn’t one. It was about discovery. Personal development. Getting out of my bubble, discovering new environments and the people within them. I traveled to hundreds of cities and countries all over the globe and the most eye-opening, inspiring moments weren’t gazing out at monuments or partying. They were spending time with and seeing the good in people. On a trip to Cambodia, I volunteered with under-privileged children and came face to face with the humbling nature of gratitude. Kids who appeared to have nothing - tape and paper comprised the soccer ball they kicked between them ecstatically as they played outside - yet they lived like they had everything. Pure joy. It was a sobering realisation, coming from a culture that celebrates individualism, material wealth and possessions, to realise the fruitless nature of that lifestyle. If wealth and goods meant everything, why are so many of us unhappy? I made the decision that day to never take life for granted. That true success for me wouldn’t be about money, or conventional accolades, but about living a fulfilled life of gratitude while inspiring others to do the same.
Arriving back in Auckland, I reunited with friends and family and found solace in the gym. This has always been a sanctuary for me, a place to challenge myself and grow. As those around me took notice of my commitment, they started asking me for advice. I jumped at the chance to help. I started running bootcamps for family, providing nutrition plans, advice and contact to keep them accountable and was humbled to be able to help them progress. Seeing people’s lives improve through goal setting, watching them develop confidence and personal pride is my greatest passion. It got me thinking, how could I take this further? I was working in a corporate role at a global company, but that wasn’t going to get in the way. I knuckled down with online courses and night classes to become a certified Fitness Trainer studying nutritional foundations to help with diet too. While I was doing what I loved, I was burning the candle at both ends. I started to feel burnt out and naturally it got me thinking. Physical exercise and food is one side of the equation. But what about the rest? Our spiritual and mental health is integral to our wellbeing, and with mine waning, I decided to learn more about exactly what makes us tick. What inspires successful people? What inspires one to set and achieve personal goals? Human behaviour, neuroscience and psychology; I deep dove into these disciplines with more night courses eventually incorporating these into my coaching practice, to create a high-performance, holistic life coach offering. Action plans, effective goal setting.I fell in love with the deep transformations these practices inspired. Ones that came from the inside out and gave my clients, family, friends and myself, a much better foundation to live and grow from.
Unfortunately, my foundation wasn’t cut out for off-road hiking. One Sunday morning, after heading out for a coffee I decided to go for an unplanned walk. I went off the track and came to some mossy rocks that I attempted to climb across. I don’t remember much after that. I was concussed for about 20 minutes and somehow drove home, where I was met with frantic cries and panic. I hadn’t even seen the blood. A trip to the A&E preceded an urgent hospital visit, CT scan and emergency operation, where doctors worked to stitch my ear back on and close the fracture in my skull, just millimeters away from a vital nerve. Any closer and I would have died. I spent days in the brain intensive care unit, with only 6 patients at a time. I saw people pass away from serious crashes and head injuries in what was one of the darkest, most surreal experiences of my life. It wasn’t until a surprise visit from my nieces that my perspective quickly changed back to one of gratitude. I was alive, with the opportunity to connect with my loved ones and make the most of each day again. That was something I wasn’t going to waste.
Like when my mum passed and that experience in Cambodia, this was another shock to the core. A sudden, sobering dose of reality and the realisation that no day is promised. I started asking myself honest questions, and giving myself honest answers. Was I happy with how I was living each day? If today was my last day, would I be able to say I was fulfilled? I knew I wasn’t. I had to get to a place where when that day came, I could answer yes. This is an opportunity I believe everyone deserves.
Bound grew from this idea. From the internal motivation I had to create a life worth living and to help others do the same. To create a community. To leave a proud legacy and honour the sacrifices my mum made. To give thanks each day for the chances I was given; the chances we’re all given when we wake up each day to a blank slate and opportunity to be the change we want to see in the world and ourselves.
So where are you at on your journey? Whether you’re struggling, unsure which path to take, living the life you want (or just here for the underwear) take a moment to reflect. Appreciate where you’ve been, good places and bad, and use these experiences to orient yourself today. To define measurable goals and learn from your life experience. Some of the best realisations we can have occur when we’re open; unafraid to share and explore our journey with others. And if you’re ready to make a change, but don’t know where to start, get in touch.
It’s never too late to become the person you’re Bound to be.