I Really Hate Winter!

I sit down for my morning coffee; before me a stunning view of Sydney Harbour glistening in the sunshine. I start work in 32 minutes so I don’t have much time to piece this blog together. I’ve been meaning to write more (as always) however life has had other ideas…

I’ll start by happily declaring Winter to be officially over! Spring has definitely sprung and the cold depression that was the last three months has frozen to a halt. Will it be my last? I hope so. Year round adventures to maintain my place in a suitably warmer climate are my goal come June next year!

Winter 2017 began with some unfortunate news. It was my first time stepping up from part-time to full-time study and I was nervous as to how this would impact me. These nerves were then compounded when on the first day of the trimester I was called by my employer and advised that my employment was being terminated amid widespread cutbacks (that’s the short version of a very long story!).

I was angry and frustrated and very well aware of the financial strain this would place on me. I wallowed for an hour or two and then resolved to keep marching on. I reminded myself of the many situations similar to this that I had been in in the past that I had endured; situations that had in fact lead me on to far better things!

That afternoon I got a haircut, printed my CV and drove to a shopping center nearby to start my job search. Later that night I began searching Gumtree and Seek, applying for yet more jobs. A week later I had a job trial at a small marketing firm after breezing through the initial interview. It was an amazing opportunity and one that I had been dreaming about for a long time! And I still hadn’t even finished my diploma…

It was a scary day that job trial. I barely slept the night before. And the day seemed to go on forever! I dabbled in many areas of the business and sat down with the owner a number of times to assess my thoughts and feelings on things. We went back and forth, trying to reach an agreement though something within me just didn’t feel right. As great of an opportunity this was on paper it just wasn’t the right one for me.

Back to the drawing board.

I sat down in one of my favourite Coogee cafe’s the morning after to begin following up the other job applications I had sent around. There was one, at a men’s clothing store, from whom I still hadn’t heard back.  I phoned them and within a week I was offered a job. Win.

I never saw myself working in a retail clothing store. Not after five years travelling the world, climbing the ranks to management positions in the fitness world, racing cars and marketing other drivers. It seemed like I plummeted all the way back to ground zero. This has been hard to get my head around and yet it’s allowed me the freedom to focus on my studies. High Distinctions overall in all three of my subjects confirm to me that I’m on the right track.

Let me add to this a note on sacrifice and commitment. Last year I commenced my studies though somewhat reluctantly. I had convinced myself that study wasn’t for me. I vowed never to go to uni. I wanted to be that successful entrepreneur who bypassed ‘the system’. I guess this originated when I dropped out of school six months early. And thus I dropped out of my first four college subjects too with no intention of ever starting again.

These past three months I have felt a level of commitment only felt when I was preparing to go back to the UK to race cars. I had completely resolved in my mind that whatever it took to excel, I was going to do. And I did. And I’m very proud of myself.

This came despite a painful winter, a painful relationship breakup, the painful search for a new job and the painful financial consequences that came alongside. Still there are many challenges that face me in the coming months face and though I do very much hope that I don’t have to fold T-shirts for very much longer, Summer is on it’s way and life is rewarding me in ways that I could never have imagined.

These lessons I am learning are so valuable and though it is hard sometimes, I am very very grateful.

PJ.

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How Much Can You Learn From A Trip to Dominos?

I’ve been sick for a few days now. Bound to the couch for the most part. Sleeping excessively. Letting my body catch up and adjust to the rapidly changing seasons. Though still, between naps, my food supply, already rationed, had depleted. It was time to venture out to replenish the pantry.

Of course, I was still too lazy to cook, so a detour to Dominos en route from Woolies was necessary. Returning home, this meant a delicate balancing act was needed for the walk to my flat to transport the four grocery bags and pizza box, with a garlic bread baguette balancing precariously on top.

It took me long enough just to get all of these items in hand to commence the two hundred meter trek. I dreaded having to put everything down at the door to my apartment complex to contend with its awkward outward opening and subsequent three-flight climb to my apartment. Surely at least one egg, or my garlic bread, god forbid, were going to be casualties of this arduous journey.

As I neared the half way point, I decided it best to practice what I have been learning in one of the books I’m reading: Think and Grow Rich. Instead of focusing on the difficulty of the impending task, I decided it best to believe that somehow, someone would be entering the flat complex at exactly the same time thus assisting with this dreaded door. It is worth keeping in mind that in the seven months of living in this complex I had seen my neighbours less than half a dozen times. I accepted that I didn’t need to know how this would happen, I just needed to trust that it would. I took a deep breath and found a place of calm.

The moment drew ever closer and I turned down the final pathway. No one was in sight. I expected someone to be coming in at the same time. But as I arrived at the door no one was in sight. Maybe someone was going to come out? I peered in through the glass: No one. I inhaled deeply and began bending over to place my groceries down whilst closely monitoring the position of my garlic bread.

Then, just as the first bag began to touch the ground, I hear a voice, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get that for you’. I paused for a moment, thinking that it was coming from the flat complex adjacent. Two or three seconds elapsed in my ponderous amazement before I turned to see if that call had indeed been for me. It had been. Leanne, my neighbour, hurriedly approached the door and opened it for me as I maintained a solid grip on all of my groceries AND, most importantly, my pizza.

This might all seem a little silly. You could say that it was a coincidence, chance or luck. But I would disagree. When you know you know. I have recently become aware of two distinct thought processes that I would typically employ in situations like these.

The first? Wishful thinking. Or attachment to a specific outcome, let’s say. The trap of ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if…’. We don’t genuinely believe that the desired outcome is possible. Instead, it’s place in the fantastical realm remains.

The second thought process feels vastly different and is difficult to explain. But I would describe it as ‘faithful thinking’. It does still maintain the element of desire but, unlike wishful thinking, lets go. It says, ‘Okay, this is what I need right now, but I can do no more.’

We are taught that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. And yet this teaching’s ties with religious origin confuses exactly what this means and detracts from its enormous power. We talk of ‘people of faith’ and people without faith. But what we mean by this is people who identify there to be a ‘higher being’ and people who cannot fathom the possibility. Faith I believe to be independent of this belief.

Faith is stillness. It is not so much about emitting an energy to seek out a desired result but rather calming yourself in order for the required frequency of energy to find you. This stillness, this letting go, is the most important part and is where we will find what it is that we seek.

Let me put it this way: You cannot say you ‘trust’ your partner yet still check their messages and incessantly question them on their whereabouts. This would be silly, right? And yet how many of us still do this not just in relationships but in life?

It is about letting go.

These lessons I have only recently learnt. Just three weeks ago I found myself in an argument in which I stood firmly on the opposing side of this philosophical position. Though as I am beginning to practice what I am now learning more and more I am very quickly changing my perspective and am excited to share with you some of the amazing outcomes. On this occasion it saved me a garlic bread (win!) but I’ve no doubt over the coming years it will save me a lot more.

What could it do for you?

PJ.

 

 

The Blues Behind The Insta-Blues

If you didn’t know any better, and you happened to look at my Instagram feed, you would likely think that where I lived was a magical place in which the sun always shined, the skies were always blue and the water was forever the most alluring shade of turquoise.

Sure, I’m very lucky to live where I do but the notion that this is always the case is simply not true.

The truth is, my Instagram feed is carefully curated and one twenty minute walk to get coffee on a bright sunny day could give me enough content for many weeks worth of posts. What this creates however is the impression that things are always fucking perfect.

Incorrect.

If you’re a long time reader of mine you might remember a post on my old website that discussed the illusion we can create through social media. It’s so easy to do. And so easy to hide behind the fantastical perception it portrays of our reality. Often though, it can be the furthest thing from our reality.

I promised in a blog earlier this year that I would share my story with honesty, transparency and authenticity. And whilst, like many of us, I am not willing to give up the harmonious colour palette of my Insta-feed, I am willing to break down to you what’s really behind many of these snapshots into my life.

Let’s say you see this photo of mine…

Blue Skies

…looks great right?!

Sure. And it is!

But even on such a gloriously sunny day still there are times in which I don’t feel anything. I feel tired for no reason. Simple conversations with people or friends becomes the hardest thing in the world to do. The thought of going to the gym no longer seems one that I am willing to act on. And, even when I do, I will get there only to stare into blank space for twenty-five minutes after my first set of bench press and wonder the hell why my body feels so lethargic and unwilling to give a fuck.

I have many days like this. Today is one of them. Yesterday was too. Though often it’s easier just to edit a photo of the Bronte swimming pool or Coogee Beach with the classic heart eye emoji as the caption, followed by twenty-seven thousand generic hashtags, than to try and understand and to talk about why on such a sunny day I am feeling so grey.

But, of course, this does little good.

This is one of the reasons why I love to write so much. To me, writing is freedom. No rules. Just pure expression. It makes me happy. And if by sharing some of these thoughts I can help someone else out there; help them to understand that they’re not alone in the way they’re feeling, than even better.

I promised you honesty, transparency and authenticity, so here it is. Today might be tough, yes, but tomorrow gives birth to new opportunities and a new chance to do something great. Whether the sun is shining or not, I’m ready.

Truth.

PJ.

Story Time: Twelve Months Ago Today

There are much deeper questions woven into what I am about to write. Much deeper questions that involve our origin and greater forces at play. And yet, what I have chosen to guide my focus delves not into such fantastical philosophy but rather the fortuitous memory of rather a challenging time.

— — —

One beer, two beers, now three. I look across at her and feel the energy and enthusiasm cast upon me. My dreams no longer dreams instead burgeoning realities. The fjord that had long since divided the two no longer impassable. Not that it ever was, really.

There are those conversations we have in life; those conversations in which the many dots in our life that once carved their own solitary pursuits become one. Tonight was one of those moments.

We talked and talked and the food kept coming. We spoke about life and about love. And businesses that could change the world. We spoke about ‘The Secret’ and the law of attraction. Synchronicity in thought and in desire. We spoke about the tough times and the many struggles we have both faced. And then it dawned on me…

On this day, 365 days ago, I was discharged from hospital. Three days earlier I had admitted myself. I was scared for my life. I could no longer trust myself in my own company.

Those three days were a strange three days. Of course I will say that I did not belong. I did not want to be there. In fact, I wanted to leave before even being admitted. One night in the emergency ward seemed enough of an aid.

There was however the doctor that convinced me to stay. And the nurse who slid some tablets my way. The decision was somehow made. And eight hours later I woke up in my room. It was grey and empty; the door resembling something more from a prison cell than a hospital ward.

There were four others with whom I shared this ward. It took me a day and a half to talk to any of them. I wasn’t there to talk. Not to them. I was scared. It was all so weird. And yet still part of me wanted to understand their stories and how they too came to be staying here. Of course this was not possible. And my journal to record such stories I had left at home.

The jigsaw puzzle, the literal one, left unfinished on the dining table would become my legacy. Between attempts at its completion I would nap on the couch and watch a movie or three. The world around me seemed a monochromatic and dull affair. The food was bland. Though I don’t think I was able to taste much at the time anyway.

I would endure the daily psychology sessions. No great revelations here. I could only think about the day I was free from these suffocating confines. Time was tight too, I was meant to fly to Perth for my sister’s wedding later that week. And my parents were yet to know of my whereabouts.

I negotiated my release and finally set foot back into the outside world once more. I arrived at my car and noticed two parking fines. Not a great start. But nothing a medical certificate and a heartfelt story couldn’t get me out of.

I returned home and fell to my bedroom floor. How had all of this happened? I packed my bags for my trip west that night and drifted off into a comfortable sleep. The morning dawned, my Uber arrived and to the airport I set off.

As VA551 spread its wings and took flight, I reclined my seat and pulled out the journal that had been a much needed though missing companion these past days. For three hours I wrote and wrote, filling more than seventy pages.

We landed at last and I navigated my way to the pick up point. Dad arrived and I sat down in his rental with a feeling of relief. I felt safe. At home. He asked, ‘How are you?’.

Now I had to spill the beans.

It was a strange journey to meet the rest of my family in which we shared the most open and honest conversation we have ever had. It began a re-birth of sorts. A reminder that things were okay. That family was the important thing. And that despite the relationship heartache I was transiting in Sydney at the time, I was loved. Unconditionally.

— — —

This was precisely a year ago now. It seems to have passed far quicker than the six months that preceded that horrible week.

I am proud of myself for what I did. To realise that my health and safety were far more important than my pride and ego. And now I understand that what I feared the most was not so bad after all; that if things were ever to get to that point again, I do not need to be scared, because I know of all the beautiful people who are there to help.

Still there are days in which my anxiety feels crippling. And silly thoughts tempt my focus. But I have vowed never to return to such a place of despair. I have committed myself instead to focused pursuits of the positives and towards my potential.

What I have found in making this commitment is that when times become tough my focus no longer drifts to that place of toxic thought but rather to a place that seeks only to find a way. It’s harder some days than others. But that’s okay.

I’ve proven a lot to myself these past twelve months. And moments like last night provide valuable reminders that I am, in fact, a fucking champion. But only with the help and support of my team.

Much love to all.

PJ.

When FOMO Strikes Hard

I arrived home, exhausted. Tonight was the night. A short nap and then it would begin. Tomorrow was deadline day in which that bitch of an assignment would be due. It was going to be a late one. As late as was required to get it done. Focus was going to be important. Calm and quiet therefore essential. Though surely there were powers conspiring against such desires.

I tried to have that nap. To give me at least some small remnant of the energy required. But the lives of those others with whom I live had contradictory plans. I guess it was a Saturday night after all…

Intoxicated ecstasy fueled laughs and questionable social interactions; the entire flat an amphitheater of care-free joy. I sat upright in my bed. My notes sprawled across my sheets and my laptop perched upon my knees. I tried to block out the noise. But my broken earphones allowed the backing chorus to remain a persistent distraction.

I guess I could have shut my door. But still there was something inside me that wanted to remain connected to the night’s activities. Surely a better prospect than the bore my night would soon become?

Hours went by and visits to my room from increasingly drunk friends rose in frequency. As I looked back down at my laptop screen and noted the stagnant word count, a growing feeling of dread came over my body. Surely I must have known there would be plenty more nights out such as these? But in that moment it seemed as this would be the last of such opportunities.

I am proud to say that I stayed in that night. And I am proud to say the results achieved, despite my internal doubts upon submission, were well and truly worth it.

It is not all about the results, of course, however these small successes are instilling a growing sense of belief within; a sense of direction; a sense of, ‘if I switch on, focus and commit myself to this shit, then there’s really no stopping me.’

Part of my is falling for this arduous grind. More than financial analysis, consumer behaviour analysis and strategic human resource planning, I am learning just what it takes to achieve; just how much hard work and sacrifice is required.

Since that night there were many more occasions in which the word ‘No’ would again become a reiteration of just why I was putting myself through the sleep and social deprivation. It’s not the piece of paper I’ll have in four months time. Nor then the ability to make mention of these sleepless nights on my CV.

It is instead the the knowledge that all those bullshit excuses I once told myself will be cast from my life once and for all; that the many pages of my journals, listing the myriad of things I had started but never finished, can be torn out [and burned] and replaced with far more helpful affirmations of my potential.

And to be blunt with you, that gets me feeling pretty fkn excited.

 

PJ.

 

 

Are you a Number One or Number Two?

‘Oops, sorry, is it possible to get two marshmallows on the side with that? Thanks.’

I arrived at the cafe a little early. I had fifteen minutes to spare before a friend arrived. My double espresso brewed. And then, not two but three marshmallows arrived in its company. Win.

I got out my laptop, opened my WordPress dashboard and paused for a moment to reflect on life’s present events.

Recently, my anxiety has been fluctuating at levels far beyond places of comfort. Certain events had created stresses unforeseen. And whilst I can appreciate the value these events were offering my life, certain inescapable realities remained:

How do I pay rent next week?

I can’t say I’m as stressed about the situation as I would once have been. Months of hard work, nights in and the substitution of Uber Eats for half price mi goreng noodles are, for now at least, keeping me afloat.

Every time I’ve had a setback – like losing a job – it has served as a kick up the arse that directed me onto something even better. Without fail.

Earlier this year I resolved that it was time I started to invest more time into building my empire. I resolved that I needed to begin putting myself out there more, to expand my network, to build relationships and to solidify ideas that have been on my mind and in my soul for much of my life.

But those ‘jobs to pay the bills’ can be distracting. As I have now found. It’s so easy to get sucked into the demands of the daily grind; it’s so easy to fall victim to the trap of the comfort and stability they offer; and our dreams can so easily stall unless we retain the focus and discipline, every day, to keep taking the time to edge that little bit closer to our desired destination.

I had an interview recently for a marketing role. It’s the first opportunity I’ve had like this and my first step away from the sales and customer service roles that I’ve typically pursued over the past six years.

The owner of the company sat down with me and asked:

‘You’ve got all of the skills and talents, you present yourself well… why don’t you just start your own business?’

He continued:

‘Are you a number one? Or a number two? Are you the leader, the visionary, the guy who steers the ship? Or are you the guy who is content working beneath someone? Getting through the workload they pass on to you?’

The answer had never been clearer.

Two days later I met up with a friend and quickly began talking about business ideas, strategies and ways in which we can make a positive impact in the world. Something clicked. We had the type of conversation that I love having most. The types of conversations that give birth to potentially world changing action.

This is exactly what I want to do. These are the conversations I want to be having!

I guess I haven’t really known a life in which I haven’t had a ‘side project’ to work on. Yes, focus is important, as I wrote about in one of my recent blogs. But retaining the motivation for what you’re doing is surely just as important. And I’ve been missing this motivation recently.

My mind is lead now to think of many of the great entrepreneurs over the years. They were going through the motions, but at the same time, they were building their empires. Think Mark Zuckerberg. Think Elon Musk.

Sure, there is merit to following the conventional path. And yes, there is merit in pursuing the known entity. But if your gut, if that little thing inside of you, that little thing that keeps chirping up in the times of hardship, that little thing that says, ‘Why don’t you just give it a go?’, then why don’t we?

Why must we choke on the dust of the many others walking the known path when we know deep down that we are nomads? When we know that we are, and always have been, destined to forge our own path in life?

It takes courage. And confidence. But surely it’s worth it?

I’m about to find out. Are you?

PJ.

 

 

Winter PJ vs. Summer PJ

Summer PJ feels at ease with himself and his surrounds. His hair is longer and his skin is darker. It’s rare that you’ll see him wearing anything other than his swimmers. And a long sleeve linen shirt. His feet will be as tanned as any other part of his body. ‘Enclosed footwear’ becomes a distant memory.

He feels happy and free. It’s easier for him to engage in conversation. And to put away his phone. He feels more confident in asking a girl on a date. And very rarely will a day pass in which he hasn’t submerged himself in a sea of waves at one beach or another. The sand between his toes and the lapping water against his skin are the only psychologist he needs in this season.

Each day he will wake with vigour and excitedly open his blinds to assess the day’s weather. Slipping on that linen shirt, those swimming shorts and that backward cap, he will throw a towel in his bag and a notebook in hand before bursting forth into the day’s warm rays. Breathing seems easier with each breath much deeper than the months before. His shoulders are relaxed and he confidently strolls toward the water, double espresso now likely in hand.

Eye contact with passers by is comfortably met with a smile, nod and polite g’day. He feels in touch with himself and who he is meant to be. He dreams of a life in which he can live this life year round. A life in which these strolls are not interrupted by the need to return to a workplace mandated only by a requirement to ‘pay the bills’ and stave away the debt collectors from knocking down his door.

He dreams instead of these strolls being broken up by meetings at beach side cafes in which ideas for innovative businesses and world changing charities are discussed over a coffee or beer. He loathes the idea of needing to distinguish ‘work clothes’ from that which he loves most to wear on days such as these. He does not understand the need to wear a suit and tie when the job brief is to create an innovate. Surely this serves only to suffocate such creative energies from flowing freely?

Though surely these days must come to an end as winter encroaches. He checks his Instagram feed for when he was last able to swim the year before. It’s always far too early. As the days get shorter and the temperature falls, throwbacks begin to fill his feed instead. Often, he cannot even wait until Thursday. Scandalous. Friend’s in opposing seasons will invite him to travel, to hike, to swim and adventure. This year it was Colorado, last year it was Croatia. Though budgetary constraints have held him back of late.

2017 will be the first year in the past five in which he has not enjoyed a Summer, either north or south. He resolves it has to be the last. He poses the idea with friends of creating the means to enable such seasonal adventures to continue. And not just for a month or two. But to enjoy the freedom in which the ability to remain in such a climate year round is possible. Of course they laugh. ‘It’s not practical’, they say. He disagrees. In the back of his mind he knows the means it will require. He knows what he must do. He knows what he must build.

This year has been an important year for him. As he finishes his first tertiary diploma, a possibility and ability he had denied for almost seven years, doors have opened and his confidence has grown. A distinction/high-distinction average has fueled the realisation that he can, in fact, do this. All of those doubts he had on the quality of his work have began to fade.

There are still those that suggest and encourage a route of comfort from here but for him, nothing would seem more uncomfortable. He is a nomad. An adventurer. Never one to shy away from attempting the impossible. Until now, he has often not had the confidence in which to successfully take such leaps. But this has changed.

Of course, these words are written by Winter PJ. It’s July. And there are still thirty-six days and nine hours left of winter this year. But who’s counting? Too many warming additions have been added to his wardrobe this year. This frustrates him. But not as much as the comments, ‘Wow, you look really pale!’. He brushes it off, ‘Haha this is Winter Paul! I’m not designed for this weather!’. He will smile and promptly change the subject. But inside it hurts.

He remembers the time in Year 6 when his classmate Michael called him Snow White. And the time he intentionally belly flopped at the school swimming carnival to give his skin at least a hint of colour. And of course the many days spent laying in the sun by the pool at home despite all of the parental protests and warnings of skin cancer.

Today he sits in his favourite cafe, the weather an encouraging reminder of the Summer that was and will once more soon be. He has found the motivation to write again and to publish at least a snippet of his inner thought catalog. Though a weight of anxiety is still felt pressing down on his chest.

He attempts to understand this weight. Some days he will fight it. Some days he will lie about its extent to family and friends. This is not intentional. It’s overwhelmingly confusing to understand for himself let alone to explain to others. He will try and accept it. And will wonder if it will ever go away. He knows that it will. But it’s hard to believe sometimes. He remembers what his Dad used to say on the days he didn’t want to get up and go to school, ‘Feet to the floor!’. Some days this will take longer than others. But he’s always glad that he does.

There is the feeling that anxiety will always remain a part of his life. And that he must learn not to fight it but leverage the positive role it plays. He rationalises the pain it causes with the benefit it will one day offer. However, this does not lessen the level of pain felt.

He is a fighter, however, and he will keep fighting, despite thoughts at times of an easier alternative. Perhaps these thoughts now are a derivative of this seasonal discomfort? And that just as the seasons change so too will this perspective on present feeling? He hopes this will prove to be the case.

Thirty-six days, eight hours and twenty-two minutes.

PJ.

I can do all things but not all at once.

I’ve been waiting a while to write this blog. Time has not been plentiful enough in order to dedicate the time [and mental energy] required to do so.

For the past three months I have been reunited with my pursuits for tertiary qualifications. Last year served up a false start to such endeavours. Simply, I did not believe I could do it. I conjured up all manner of excuses as to why I could not.

I’m not designed for ‘structured learning’.

I can figure all of this out myself anyway.

And most [in]famously:

It’s just not meant to be…

I dropped out of four subjects with no intention of ever resuming my studies. This was in August last year. As 2017 began, this stubborn belief remained. I was unsure how the year would unfold. I was nervous and apprehensive. How could this year ever compare to the roller-coaster of 2016? A year which featured a move to Sydney, a trip to America and my first forays into the world of film and TV? On the cards were little exciting prospects.

I realise now the value of what 2017 is offering to my life. Intertwined with daily life at present is a simple message:

You can do all things but not all at once.

There was a time not that long ago in which I would draw in my journal mind maps detailing all of my life’s present endeavours: Businesses I wanted to start, friends I wanted to help, blogs I wanted to write, speeches I wanted to give, adventures I wanted to embark on, changes I wanted to make in the world, charities with whom I wanted to work. Not to mention the race car driving or fitness challenges I was also working on behind the scenes!

When you’re standing in the middle of this complicated web posing a myriad of possible directions about where your life could lead, inevitably making a step in any direction becomes rather hard. As I have found it to be.

This year I began to emit an energy that sought clarity over what I needed and where I needed to step next; what I needed to focus on. Fast forward six months and I have now concluded my first trimester of study (take two), albeit at a reduced study load.

I doubted myself in the early weeks. As the first round of assessments loomed large, the voice of negativity spoke loudly in the back of my mind, seeking to convince me once again that this just wasn’t for me. It did a good job too. In fact it was so convincing that at one point I emailed through my intention to withdraw from the course, mistakenly thinking I could do so without financial penalty having misread the dates on the student web portal.

Acknowledging the pain of having another $5,000 added to my student debt for nothing, I said to myself, ‘F*ck it, I’ll submit the work I have done and hope for the best.’

I only just passed my first exam, largely a result of attempting it with no preparation and beginning just half an hour before it needed to be submitted! But the other assignment I not only passed but received a High-Distinction.

Maybe I was on the right track after all?

As the trimester wore on, many distractions would rear their heads. But I chose to remain focused. All of the things I wanted to do, all of the things that were tempting me away, I began to put as reminders in my calendar for when I was on uni break.

I kept saying to myself, I can do all of these things but just not now.

Two bouts of sickness and some brutally long days at work served as continued attempts to lure me away from completing these subjects yet somehow, as the final due dates came and went, I’d somehow managed to submit everything. Now the anxious wait for my marks to come back…

***drum roll***

Two High Distinctions on my final two assessments and two distinctions overall.

Maybe I was on the right track!

It might only be the very beginning of a looooong three year course but in this short time I have learnt that I can do this. I’ve learnt that I can focus. I’ve learnt that all of those creative juices and ideas that flow through my mind every day for businesses and creative exploits are good enough.

But with these lessons acknowledged, by far the biggest thing that I’ve learnt so far – aside from creative strategy and integrated marketing communications – is that for me to succeed in all of the dreams and ambitions I have bustling around in my mind, I must learn to become disciplined in saying no to the ideas that serve only as distractions. Yes, I can do all of them, but no, not all at once.

I think there is a lesson here for all of us.

We wake every day with a multitude of possibilities at our fingertips. At any given point we can begin to write a completely different story for our lives. And whilst it can be hard to choose just one, only when we do will be able to realise the magnitude of the success that awaits us.

PJ.

Throwback: Passion and Persistence Pays Off!

This moment pictured above was almost three years ago now. It’s hard to believe just how quickly that time has passed! It was a moment that at times I thought was never going to be possible. Doubt is natural of course; our inclination to avoid painful situations, potential failure, intrinsically human.

And yet we can challenge this. We can change this. We can decide not to doubt but instead to focus on the goal and only that which draws us closer.

After seven years of dreaming and seven months of intense focus and hard work immediately preceding, it finally happened.

— — — —

In January 2014, having not raced for four years (previously in go karts), I decided that it was time this dream came to fruition. I decided that I could no longer continue to dream this dream and not take the action needed to make it a reality. I decided that this was the year in which I was going to make my car racing debut AND that I was going to do it in the UK!

I can’t quite describe just how certain I felt on this. And yet to enable this certainty I somehow needed to raise $25,000 in investment…

After two months of hard work and focus, attending networking events, speaking at events myself and connecting with potential investors, I was fired from my ‘day job’. I bet you didn’t see that coming – nor did I! I guess it was clear to my employer where my real motivation and focus was…

This began a difficult week. And though I’d been in similar positions before, something felt different. Whilst the financial practicalities of the situation remained, I didn’t plummet to the depressive lows like I had done in the past. I remained focused and within a week had found another job.

Win.

For the next six months, working a job that meant absolutely nothing to me other than a means to pay the bills, my schedule looked like this:

Wake Up – 7am
‘Day Job’ – 8am to 5pm
Gym – 530pm to 7pm
‘Night Job’ – 8pm to 2am+

Night job? I began operating on UK time when I made it home from the gym. I Skyped UK companies, sent emails, made phone calls, wrote proposals and prepared presentations. It was during this period in which my addiction to strong [and shitty] black coffee came to the fore. (One that continues to this day!)

I would sit in my bedroom, at my desk, beneath my vision board; on it were images of the car that I would race, screenshots from on-board footage and ideas and strategies pinned around it on how I would get there – how I would sit in that seat and enjoy that same view!

I was totally consumed.

In those six months there were setbacks, of course. A sponsor that I thought was a sure thing pulled out. A week or two later another sure thing fell through. Time was running out. And yet still I remained certain of my impending success.

Then the breakthroughs, two of which particularly stand out, not just for their financial impact but for the enormous confidence boost they gave me.

The first:

I attended a local business networking event to deliver a short speech. I was given the opportunity by a business connection in the hope that I could share my dream and garner investment from those in attendance. A young bank manager came up to me afterwards and handed me his business card saying simply, ‘Give me a call, would love to chat’.

A week later I had my first sponsor.

WIN!

The second:

I had set up a crowdfunding campaign to complement my sponsorship push. Anyone who has run a crowdfunding campaign will appreciate just how hard it can be to attract donations! Things were just as slow for me and I wasn’t expecting much to come as the campaign began to wind down to a close. Then…

I attended another speaking event and struck up a fortuitous conversation with a man there after my presentation. We exchanged business cards and he invited me to a conference a couple of months down the line. THEN…

That night, I was having dinner with a friend, relaxing after a busy, and relatively successful day, when an email notification came through to my phone. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A donation to my campaign that more than doubled what I had raised up until that point.

WIN!

And yet still, despite all of this, now with only two weeks to go, I had not raised enough money to make this dream come true. So what did I do? The only logical thing of course…

I bought my plane ticket!

I was convinced that a door would open up. Even if it took knocking on the door of every company in London, somehow, this was going to happen. I just knew it.

In the end my conviction not only persuaded business but the man who enabled my passion from the very beginning – my Dad. One final conversation, whilst pacing the hallway of my South East London apartment, with a $1 Tesco’s pizza in the oven, the final deal was done.

My dream was about to become a reality!

WIN!!!

I’m very grateful to have been afforded this amazing opportunity. And while it has not yet lead to my ultimate goal, one that has proven to require a rather different and longer term strategy, I am taught, and now reminded, of this:

Passion, persistence; they really do pay off!

PJ.

The end of evangelism?

Easter: A time of love, hope, forgiveness and new beginnings. Whether your life philosophy originates from theistic or anti-theistic foundations, the Easter Spirit is one that we can all embrace.
 
There is little need for ongoing religious debate. Surely this only reinforces societal divides. Simply, my beliefs are my beliefs. Your beliefs are your beliefs. Both have come to be through a complex chain of events that is, for the most part, impossible to explain and to be understood.
 
We must simply choose to accept one another and to learn from one another; seeking to create a society that is built upon the best bits from all ideologies and not to discount the beneficial merely for its religious origin.
 
There is no right and wrong. Only what is right and wrong for you and I. Surely the time has now come in which we must cease fighting and forcing our opinions on each other; the time has come in which we must simply love one another.
 
This sense of growing religious stigma is as frustrating as it is destructive. None of us should be defined by what we believe. We should only be defined by how we act, how we treat other people and how we love other people.
 
There are those that exist within religious communities who fuel enormous misconceptions. Broad generalisations are subsequently made and many lessons of love, hope and forgiveness left to rot by the wayside, lost in the rubble of selfish terror.
 
What is the point of this?
 
There are fools who exist on both sides of the religious divide. And yet we are fine to call the atheist fools what they are without going on to label every member of the anti-theistic community with the same label.
 
How can we not see what we are doing here?
 
I write this as a young man with thought origins of Christian foundation. I grew up in a Christian home, I attended a Christian school, I try to attend church as often as I can and I pray every day, giving thanks for the blessings that come into my life. Personally, this adds great value to my life.
 
My beliefs are not founded from what I read in a book. They are founded through real life experience. They are founded in the moments of my life in which I was alone, lost and hurting. In these moments I prayed, calling out for the strength needed to endure such struggles. I believed. I persevered. And hope was revealed and the strength needed provided.
 
This is where I found my faith.
 
And whilst I say this, my faith strong, I acknowledge that the universal embodiment of ‘my belief’ is not the way forward. There are lessons I seek to learn from all cultures, all religions and all life philosophies.
 
The way forward I believe to be through universal understanding of all ideologies. The way forward I believe to be through open conversations with those of differing belief systems; conversations in which we seek not to argue but simply to understand; conversations in which we can walk away content with the knowledge we have gained rather than angry having failed to convince them of our belief.
 
We must not be afraid to have such conversations. We must not be afraid to engage with those who might not agree with us or share our thoughts. This fear being most counter-productive.
 
I am excited to be making plans for my life in which my adventures will enable me to learn many of these crucial lessons. And I hope to be able to share some of these with the world so that we may garner a more holistic understanding of humanity’s binding purpose.
 
Religion, I believe, has now grown to become an enormous obstacle in the way of the advancement and prosperity of the human race. I believe if religion stands in the way of any member of our human family receiving love, respect and equal opportunity, then we as a religious community have failed.
 
Times like these, symbolic of love, hope, forgiveness and new beginnings, must serve as such a reminder. We are not here to force opinion. We are here to serve. It is not about us, it is about one another. Love is selfless, remember.
 
Religious or not, this is something we must all remember.
 
Happy Easter!
 
PJ.