Welcome to our next ‘campfire’ story.
The Campfire for the Heart project is a collection of true, international stories of human resilience.
Although every story is unique, they all highlight our ability to adapt positively to bad experiences and showcase our indomitable human spirit.
If you have a resilience story to share, or know someone who does,
please contact Natalie Stockdale through www.stockdalewellbeing.com.
“Tragedies give you opportunities to evolve your character.”
As a wild country boy, I had a happy childhood in an earthy environment. Horses were a big feature, as was long distance running. When I was four years old, I won an ‘under sevens’ race which spurred my competitive drive. I sprang out of bed and trained everyday- rain, hail or shine. Always disciplined, there was no such thing as a sick day. The rewards for my effort paid off with shelves of trophies including an Australian 25km championship.
Although successful on the running track, I was a low achiever at school. Having dyslexia, I barely scraped through most subjects, yet was highly gifted in maths. When a new mathematics concept was introduced, I could immediately see the logic in it and averaged 98%. My school wasn’t interested in nurturing that strength. Instead, I was told to leave and do an apprenticeship.
I became a farrier apprentice and stepped into the world of horses. I shod, trained and rode them in rodeos- steer roping, cutting and bronco riding. I soon became the idiot who could shoe horses no one else could shoe and ride horses no one could ride. Over time, multiple accidents and strains broke my back! I recall riding a thoroughbred one day, bareback and bridle-less. Startled by a strike of lightning, he took off, skidded into a gate and catapulted me into the air. I landed on the ground with a back breaking snap.
My horse career was over. At that time, aged 25, I had the sole custody of my daughter. With that responsibility, I needed to reinvent myself quickly. Focussing on my losses and limitations didn’t occur to me. Instead, I focussed on what I could do!
I bought a cheap suit and moved to the city. I applied for a job and sat an exam with a large financial planning company and was told that I had “no ability to learn”!!! I offered to work for six months voluntarily and, harnessing my strengths of maths and communication, I became sales manager within six months. My rise in the corporate world began.
For nearly two decades, I bought and sold many multi-million-dollar companies and built a lot of wealth for several people. I was screwed over five times, but rose again and again. When I was 44, I was forced into bankruptcy. My family and I lost everything and my self-worth was smashed.
This time, I created my own false reality. I saw my loss as me being a loser. I saw my failure as me being a failure and that loss & failure would define me. How wrong I was. With the help of mentors and my incredible resilient wife, I found myself through this tragedy. I won through loss and succeeded though failure. I gained perception, value, depth, meaning, experience, character and humility. And through this I found my purpose.
How did I morph my failure mindset to a winning mindset? I simply flipped my perspective. I wrote a list of 100 good things about bankruptcy. My Slaying the Bankruptcy Dragon list gave me a massive perspective shift and included things like:
If I act on my dreams, I will succeed.
If I surround myself with good people, I will succeed.
If I accept help, I will succeed.
If I am passionate what I do, I will succeed.
If I focus on adding value, I will succeed.
If I stay humble, others will succeed.
I reviewed the rules of my life and made some adjustments. For example, I now make haste slowly, instead of going hard. I’m enjoying the journey and have never been more fulfilled by working with a purpose of saving people’s lives. I began a social enterprise called RISE and help traumatised women flip their lives around and see their worth again.
Life is full of challenges. Our responses, the stories we tell ourselves and the actions we take are all choices. The first thing I tell people who are stuck in their abyss is to recognise your power of choice. After a trauma, are you going to aim your focus on what was, your pain and sorrow, or, on solutions and possibilities moving forward?
I also encourage people to understand your character. Once you understand the character that resides within you, you will start seeing your self-worth. Character is the only thing anyone recognises. It is all that matters. Tragedies give you opportunities to evolve your character. Rather than repeating your trauma story again and again, grow your character to move yourself forward.
Four vital character virtues to grow are gratitude, courage, strength and resilience. So, stay positive, focus on goodness and always be grateful. Gratitude is the most powerful tool to drive you out of anxiety and depression and turn on awesome things that you need to move forward. If you look for gratitude, as opposed sorrow, you’ll find gratitude instead of sorrow.
We all need authentic & genuine conversations. Asking for help & connection is not a weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of enormous courage and strength. Resilience is also vital because the ability to get back in the saddle is critical.
Never give up. Never quit. Stay strong.