“A cure for Sunday-itis” TEDx Talk done !!!

A cure for Sunday-it is!

TEDx Talk Bucket list done!!!

This week I did something that’s been on my bucket list since I saw my first TED talk a few years ago. There had been a few ideas bubbling up but this one seemed to catch the attention of the TEDx planning committee on the application.

For those who have yet to fill in a TED application form they are a load of fun! They take some time and require some thought but they are designed to look for something different so you cant cheat them!

Below is the outline of the talk I wrote but what I presented was very different to this and in a very different style. However it did give the cure for Sunday-it is!

TED.com will release the final video but the live stream version is still live at the time of publishing this and you can see it at TEDxsevenmilebeach.com watch online. I present at 2hrs 53.

I hope you enjoy it!

“I hate my job”

I admitted that to myself on a Monday morning sometime in the middle of 2006.

I had Sunayitis – do you know what Sundayitis is?

Well I’m sure there is a medical term for it but I call it “ The absolute dread of going to work on Monday” The feeling that what I am going to do tomorrow is going to sap the life from me.

I would have this internal dialogue with myself about all the ways I could get out of going to work tomorrow. I could be sick, I could arrange a meeting that would allow me a little longer lay in. Seriously this thought process would start as early as midday on the Sunday!

But why? I had been in the same field of work for 5+ years, I had been promoted, I ran teams and as my wife said “I was good at it!”

So why was I trying to not go and do something I was good at?

Eventually this Sundayitis became so severe that I had to do something, look for a way out change my career, because it became all-consuming. The inner dialogue was turning into a full on conversation on an almost daily basis

“Your back here again, you think that guy is a jerk, you haven’t done anything about this, your not going to do anything about this…”

So I had to make it stop!

This is where everyone needs that friend, mum , wife or person who is not going to put up with you whining and simply say.

“Its your life change it”.

Now that’s easier said than done, financial burdens are ever present and I wasn’t in a situation where I could just give up a good job. I had a mortgage, student loans and a passion for food, wine and fun!

My wife repeated the phrase why do you hate something your so good at? But this time I heard her….

We often listen but don’t hear, and significant people in our lives often give us great nuggets and we can miss them and I wish I had heard her the first time she asked this because it was the catalyst for me to shut up that internal dialogue.

OK – So I hate my job – but do I really hate my job or do I hate something else and it just relates to my job?

Hate is such a strong word but if you have ever suffered sundayitis it’s the only word that seem to be able to help define that anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach when you really don’t want to do something but know you have to do it.

I evaluated my job – and came to the following conclusions:

1 – I liked how I made people feel (I got them jobs!)

2- I liked helping people

3- I did make a difference

4- I needed more

Now it was point 4 that really got me excited, ok ok now I know I need more, fantastic I don’t hate my colleagues or my company I just need more….

Problem is I haven’t a clue what more meant…but I did know it had to be somewhere else. I had become so used to the bubble in which I lived that I hadn’t noticed that I had outgrown my bubble.

My bubble was defined by – my gym, my shops, my friends, my house, my environment it was all so safe, I needed an adventure.

The reason I was excited was that my “Spidey sense” was in full gear telling me this was going to happen. I just didn’t know when or how it would happen. So My wife and I started making plans, with no idea how, where or why we would do these things they were just plans, dreams, paths to follow.

We started by looking at selling our house and buying some property in Spain… we even took a trip there three times looking at property trying to figure it out.

But then the universe made something happen. I got a phone call about a job in Bermuda….. WOW …. Adventure has come knocking at my door!

SO now its serious, we have a path laid out in front of us that could lead to something amazing…. So I had to ask Kym the question do you really want to do this? The reason I asked her was that my spidey sense was screaming that this was the thing for us to do, this was the right path, I would love my job doing somewhere exciting. So I asked her…. “Are you sure about going to Bermuda because if I go for this I am going to get it…”

Her response – “Where’s Bermuda”……

Two weeks later we were on a plane to Bermuda to go look – we rented our house and moved there less than one month after that trip.

We took a chance, we followed the Bermuda path

My gut had told me change was coming because I knew I needed change, but “spidey sense” had said look out for it because its there….

All through my career I have been listening to my spidey sense I just didn’t know it. My gut would tell me if this was going to be a great client meeting or if this project wasn’t going to work. Subconsciously I had changed the projects/meetings/events so that they worked.

This became even more transparent after we left Bermuda to return home.

Kym had a great job with John Lewis in the UK I was back inside my bubble and realize that for me it was a mistake to come back to the safety net of my bubble because it hadn’t grown but I had so now it was even more constrictive. I had traveled live in a different country met amazing people had actual stories to tell. Yet I was back – reverted to type – reverted to the same work in the same area with a lot of the same people which kept on saying why did you come back? I knew it was a mistake when I couldn’t answer them. I even turned down several options including working in the Cayman islands because Kym was happy so now I would allow her to follow her dream.

Whilst we were back one of my best friends wife at 34 died within 18months of being diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. Around 2 weeks after the funeral Kym and I were sat in a pub on her 39th birthday and she said to me why are we not in the Cayman Islands? You see I had been so caught up in allowing her to follow what I thought was her dream that I never asked her if this was what she wanted. All the time her gut was telling her she was not going to turn 40 living in Birmingham. The death of a friend so young crystalized both our spidey senses and the next day I called back a man named Steve McIntosh who had asked if I would come to the Cayman Islands and inside of a week was on a plane to check it out.

That was 4 years ago.

I want to leave you with a final story that really emphasizes the importance of listening to your spidey sense

In September last year I was approached about going on a trip to Guatemala, from the moment this was mentioned that voice/feeling in my gut said yes, yup your going to do this and its going to be epic.

The trip was part of a program called the Guatemala Literacy Project (GLP) it’s a program that allows you to sponsor a child to go to school. To help break the cycle of poverty through education.

One of my friends who had done this trip before advised me to sponsor a child before I go as I would get to met them and their family when I was there and it would be an amazing experience. So for $70 a month I did.

That trip showed me what human beings can endure, how the human spirit can get through adversity, but more importantly it put my path through life on a path that affected someone else’s in a dramatic way. I returned having sponsored a second child knowing that the difference I had played in their lives was huge even though to me it was a small amount of money every month.

I had found my something more, through travel, adventure, charity and I have connected my spidey sense with real life. I’ve learnt to listen to that internal monologue and act on it.

I’m doing the same job I’ve been doing for 15+ years and I love it.

Stop using the internet to analyze every decision, use your gut instinct it will never let you down if you truly listen. Don’t miss a path lay the path as you go!

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Be your own superhero

In 1983 a woman named Mary Manning a shop worker in Dunn stores in Dublin (kind of like marks and spencer or Macy’s ) started a strike that would allow her to meet world leaders like nelson Mandela, archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Irish prime minister and many others. What did she do?

She refused to sell Cape oranges.

You see at that time in South Africa there was apartheid, and her shop workers union had said they could abstain from selling goods that supported Apartheid. So she started a movement by saying no to cape orange sales. She went on strike for 2.5 years before the Irish government finally supported her action and embargoed South African goods that supported apartheid. She was only joined in her strike by 9 others. But what she and her fellow strikers achieved was simply heroic and worthy of super hero status.

But what intrigued me was why would a woman living thousands of miles away in a different country stand up for someone else.

She didn’t do it for fame or fortune she did it because to her it was a way she could make a difference.

I’m sure many of you have seen the film “the blind side” about the young African American (Michael Oher) who was homeless and taken in by the Toughie family in the mid west. There is a point in the biography and a great point in the film that shows you the moment when someone says… I can change this…

The point in the blind side is when Leanne Toughie (played by Sandra Bullock) looks back at Michael and tells her husband to turn the car around. She didn’t know or could have foreseen how this small action would lead to her eventually adopting and supporting this boy it was for her just the right thing to do.

So recently Emma Watson used this quote in an address to the United Nations: “if not me who if not now when” And I wondered did people knowingly run this quote through their head when they make these life-altering decisions. None of them thus far knew it was going to be life altering but you understand my point.

“No one else is going to do this thing so do I care about it enough to do it?”

Many people look back and these deeds and think yep great wow but I never get the opportunity to do something amazing and I would say you do you just keep missing it!

That’s quite a bold statement.

Think about it – you have had opportunities in your lives right now that could turn you into a super hero, but you either didn’t recognize it or were not passionate enough about making a change, taking a stance or you just didn’t have the time to take it further….

That’s ok, we can’t do everything, there simply isn’t time but how do you recognize something you want to be passionate about?

Someone asked me about 7 years ago what I was passionate about?

I listed a whole bunch of things I liked but they pressed me. Ok but what really makes you passionate… I didn’t know and it wasn’t until I moved abroad that I realized I was passionate about adventure. Trying something knew, having experiences. You see I believe a passion is different to a hobby or doing something you like when you allow that thing to change your life or define you.

When I first met Derek Haines a British man who has lived in Grand Cayman for many years and now calls it home. I had no idea what I would learn from him.

I learnt that you do not have to be extraordinary to achieve something amazing. Derek was simply a man with a purpose. His passion is running and he uses that passion to support causes that he feels benefit others. So when at 66 he decides to run 6 marathons in a year I thought he was bonkers.

He raised over $1million and brought a whole community together that now has a the funds to build its own hospice care facility.

But whilst the fund raising is great that’s not what made him a super hero to me. It was two things:

he made it happen
he inspired me to put one foot in front of the other and start moving
Just over a year ago I tipped the scales at 310lbs

In the last 12 months I have completed 2 triathlons, 2 half marathons, a half iron man, and a whole bunch of 5 & 10 k races – I also lost 60+ lbs

I am alive again. Cayman, Derek a few close friends and my wife saved my life. I was destined for a heart attack. A sedentary life which would have cut short my passion. They are super heroes to me and they don’t even know it.

Derek was also a member of Rotary which is a service club, what I mean by that is they get together and organize projects that benefit the community and others. They identify the need. It’s up to you whether you take part.

Derek was part of a group that have been traveling to Guatemala as part of rotary for a number of years. I decided to join the group this year and 9 of us went on a self funded trip to Guatemala as part of the GLP.

Guatemala is a country less than a few hours flight time from us here. Yet the poverty in the rural areas are 3rd world. Until you have seen 3rd world poverty up close and personal it cannot be described.

The GLP tries to break the cycle of poverty by providing schooling, books and compute centers to schools and children that otherwise would not have access to it. It’s been going 17 years. It works.

Before I went – I learnt that most of the group who have been on the trip sponsor a child through school and the program. A friend who was going suggested I sponsor a child before I went as I would get to meet them and it would be a fantastic experience. So I did it costs less than one meal out per month and yet it changes this child’s life, when you do the math it’s a no brainer.

So what do all these examples have in common?

You have to put yourself out there in order to experience something new.
Only you can make it happen.
There are superhero’s amongst us their identities hidden to only those that they have affected.
You don’t have to wear a cape to be a superhero.
So you can be the difference without knowing it, we have so much opportunity right in front of us. Unplug – talk – go see – have an adventure because if I hadn’t tried something like the Guatemala Literacy Program my two boys might still be working in the fields for $2 a day. To them I am Batman.