My Reflections on 2018

Nothing stops time.

And as we end 2018, I’ve been reflecting upon what has been a unique year.

It’s been a year of the widest range between my highest and lowest points.

I decided to summarise it for myself, sort of like a one-stop journal of the year.

I’m hoping it inspires someone, especially someone whose having a tough time. But I know I’ll want to read this in the future too because reflecting alone has inspired me to end my 2018 feeling pretty amazed.

What amazes me is just how much I could change in one year. And especially, just how much a very adverse situation was gradually transformed into a very positive one.

It’s been a journey!

Key events each month:

JANUARY

I ended 2017 as a temporarily disabled person.

On 14th December 2017, I was injured whilst reporting a hit-and-run crime involving my car. I ended up twisting my ankle so badly it would end up taking 1.5 years to recover from (and will never return to 100%).

This one incident bent out of shape my Christmas, family life, social life, my mind, killed my consulting business and my ability to work throughout most of 2018.

Life suddenly consisted of going from bedroom to living room sofa, back to bedroom, using a pair of crutches, and hopping up and down the stairs.

I couldn’t go out for long periods because I had to keep my left foot elevated pretty much permanently to avoid swelling and the return of pain and discomfort.

Needless to say, January was pretty dark.

Work.

On hold for a long time. As a consultant, this meant no income for a while, so the stress was building up alongside the frustration of being fairly helpless for most things.

For Christmas, a dear friend gifted me an amazing book: Never Eat Alone.

I also bought a copy of Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs after hearing the author Cameron Herold interviewed by Jamie Masters on one my favourite podcasts, Eventual Millionaire.

I wasn’t able to implement my own miracle morning, however, due to the ankle injury being fairly new and hard to cope with. But I do practice the morning now.

Nothing is more right than what I learned in both of these books. Buy them!

I started listening to meditations a lot. Something that really stuck with me was a meditation about gratitude, which I listened to over and over and I have no intention of stopping this.

I attribute my highs of 2018 to two external influences which began in Jan:

  1. Listening to the gratitude meditation repeatedly.
  2. Reading the book Never Eat Alone.

As the year continued and gratitude became a big part of my way of life, I found myself pointing anyone in any pain towards finding gratitude. It became a never-ending, free medicine.

I’ve never felt so good when helping someone in pain, and never been so natural at building positive relationships, thanks to Never Eat Alone.

So it’s these two things that help change me as a person.

FEBRUARY

Ankle.

Still on two crutches plus air boot. Still need to lye flat and keep it elevated all day and night. So I couldn’t get around much.

My body was starting to get seriously unfit. I was doing physiotherapy at home every waking hour, as instructed.

I was lucky to have been assigned an absolutely amazing physiotherapist who took a holistic view of the situation. Body to mind. I really related to this because it’s how I work with clients that consult with me for help with their businesses.

In short, she strengthened my mind by explaining everything that was going on, which motivated me to take the actions we agreed, which led me to achieve what goals we set, which created a gradual metamorphosis of mind and body over the course of 2018. Amazing physiotherapist. Amazing person. Sarah was her name.

I gradually swapped taxis for walking to my hospital appointments. What would normally be a 12-minute walk, I completed it in about 45 mins on those crutches. Blistering hands. Tired shoulders and arms. Swelling foot. But I needed to feel human and independent.

My physiotherapist pushed me to get on public transport for a few stops at a time before returning home. This is when I noticed just how unsuitable the underground tube is for disabled people.

Bus drivers are the worst. I know this because I’ve seen them drive like maniacs even after old and frail people board the bus. A few years ago I watched an old man take off and crash-land inside a London bus because the driver was a complete dick.

I waited at my local bus top. The bus arrived and I hopped on with those crutches and boot. With a smile, I asked the driver politely to wait until I was seated. He did. I was pretty shocked, but this was the beginning of what became my mobility and greater independence for the next few months.

Work.

My new-found mobility boosted me to plan my business comeback.

I knew I had to build again pretty much from scratch so I began with productising my consulting offerings to appeal to more audience segments and I began connecting with all sorts of interesting people mainly via LinkedIn.

It’s amazing how many people are so cold, closed and cynical. But that is pretty human and I accept that. Those who bite back, well, I just removed them from my life, quickly forgotten.

Those who connect and engaged, I made sure they benefitted. Because ‘giving’ was becoming a big part of who I was becoming.

MARCH

Ankle.

After putting in the physio hours, day-after-day, I got promoted to walking with just one crutch!

I still needed the air boot, but dropping one crutch made a BIG difference. You see, it meant I can carry a coffee in one hand!

But on a serious note, it made everything faster. I no longer had to remove one arm from a crutch to open a door! I could have more moments of stopping in my tracks and just standing up absolutely upright, which was a relief for my back.

Such small things which most people take for granted can make such a MASSIVE difference to someone else.

Regaining the use of one arm boosted me to get out a lot more and back into the world. It seems insane now but I started to clock up 3-4k worth of walking on some days.

It was like I suddenly gained something I never had: mobility. This made me feel really, really good.

So whilst January was like the dark ages, in March I felt like I could fly.

Work.

On my way home from hospital I bumped into my neighbour who was on his way to work. He had an office at WeWork in Paddington.

This wasn’t the first time I bumped into him and he once again pleaded with me to come and visit him there, have a coffee with him, and be around people.

I knew he was right so I visited him there the following week. I could see that many of my potential clients were under that one roof. But yet, I can’t stay out for more than a few hours because my ankle had to be elevated to prevent pain and swelling.

But as I was planning my comeback and was pretty much relaunching my consulting business, and I knew I needed to get leads much faster than ever.

So I wrote an email to WeWork and offered four one-to-one consulting sessions of 45 mins each, for their members, for free. A half-day committment from my side (knowing that I couldn’t work longer before needing my bed!)

WeWork would have to provide the meeting space and communciate the offer to their members. It took a month of lead time but it came to life in April.

APRIL

Ankle.

By the end of April I no longer needed the boot. I still needed one crutch, but I was wearing a pair of shoes (trainers actually), for the first time in 5 months.

But being promoted from an air boot to trainers meant that my walking had to slow right down again to about half the speed I was achieving in March.

This also made me very tense because I was always at risk of twisting it all over again – it was still very weak.

But this was the most incredible high from progress made through pure effort and drive, which derived from the amazing support I had received up to this point. So grateful!

Work.

My consulting sessions for WeWork members were communicated to their Paddington building, and in just 24 hours all four consulting slots got booked up!

I struggled through it on the day because my ankle was really starting to swell but I was totally driven by being in a workplace and using my expertise to help these businesses by giving my help and advising on what their strategy should be.

Sadly, only three of the four businesses actually showed up, but I got glowing testimonials and I felt amazing again.

An outstanding month!

MAY

Ankle.

My physiotherapist was ready to take me to the next step, quite literally.

For the first time since December 2017, I walked a few steps using only my feet – no crutch. This was emotional!

Though I still needed the crutch for longer walks this month, the short trips e.g. to the kettle, without using a crutch was another massive achievement, liberation and high.

It was also extremely scary when I was out because up to that point, when people see you have a boot, a crutch, or any aid, they either get out of your way, or help you by opening doors etc.

But this was the first time since my injury that people had no idea about my fragility. One gentle nudge and I’d fall over. Stressful!

I stayed well away from crowds and practised my walking where it was safe. Forget buses altogether!

The only thing that got easier was taking the stairs because my hand was no longer needed to handle the crutch, so I could hold onto the handrail and use the other to help balance.

Work.

Got my first client of 2018!

It was one of the businesses that took up the free 45-minute sessions at WeWork. Boom!

Big, BIG moment because this signified that my business was back up and running, and someone saw the value and was willing to pay for it, even though I was hardly able to walk. This was actually no different to pre-injury. But it never felt so good.

My eyes really opened to this:

  • Every person has value in their own unique way.
  • Every person is valuable.

I ran my strategy workshops for the new client, standing for the best part of 4 x half-days, with the occasional help of one crutch and a table to lean on whilst walking from one whiteboard to another.

I slept like a baby at night – truly exhausted.

And yet, this work was heaven!

Thanks for your business, for trusting me, and for the fantastic testimonial, Brenda!

Closing this client also signified success in my new lead-generation technique that I experimented with at WeWork.

I achieved the shortest sales cycle vs. all previous years. It took 2 meetings in 3 weeks. I had just set a new record! (and fundamentally, I learned what worked to gain trust quickly).

JUNE

Ankle.

At my physiotherapy appointment, I was worried that Sarah had lost the plot, because she suddenly suggested that I start running again.

What?!

I tore a ligament in my ankle WHILST RUNNING. I’ve only just started walking again (unaided). My ankle was so weak. I struggle to get out of bed every morning because my body is so unfit. I struggled to stay away beyond 9pm because even my most simplistic day-life was so physically and emotionally exhausting.

I had all the reasons not to run, but I never mentioned them because I knew those were exactly the reasons to start running again.

When I think back over my career I’ve excelled most when out of my comfort zone. So this time it was for my health.

She knew I could do it and she planted the vision in my head.

But I wasn’t to go out and run 6-8k in 45 mins like the good old days.

Instead, she introduced me to this amazing app called Couch to 5k. A course that helps you go from walking to a 5k run in just 9 weeks. BS (I thought)!

But she explained it starts of having you walk briskly for 5 mins, then you run for just 60 seconds, then walk again for 90 seconds, and so on. Do that three times in week one. Then those short runs in week #2 increase to 90 seconds of running and 2 mins of walking in between each run. Etc. etc. It helps you to gradually advance each week.

On my first session, when the recorded voice from the coach was preparing me to advance to my first 60-second run, I was petrified of twisting my ankle again.

But I went ahead, tense, and completing that first 60 seconds of running successfully was f’ing emotional.

I hadn’t run 2 steps since Dec 2017. And after 8 weeks of using this app, I was running about 4k in 28 mins. AWESOME!

I went on to finish 9 weeks of continuous running for 30 mins and I achieved 5k.

How was this possible?

I trusted my physiotherapist Sarah, I had faith in myself, I had been putting in the physiotherapy work, and it was nicely broken down into milestones to achieve the overall goal.

Most of all, I wanted the achievement.

I’m so very grateful for all the support and tools. But I also had to put in the work and remain committed. That’s how you get results.

JULY

Ankle.

?

Work.

Crystalised who I am and what I want to do. I want to help people.

I fundamentally changed how I position myself as an expert.

AUGUST

Ankle.

Holiday: A week in Paris.

Work.

Achieved shortest sales cycle vs. the new record set in May 2018. This time it took just one meeting. Boom! The client was BullBear and the CEO wrote an outstanding testimonial.

SEPTEMBER

Ankle.

?

Work.

I discovered my why. The next morning I recorded a video of myself where I explain the feeling, which you can watch here.

A key month for learning how to

OCTOBER

Ankle.

?

Work.

?

NOVEMBER

Ankle.

?

Work.

Gave back: Hult Busines School talk.

Celebrated 20 years since commencing my career. Dixons Carphone visit.

DECEMBER

Ankle.

I ran 5k non-stop in 30 mins. BOOM!!!

I still can’t walk down stairs easily.

Work.

A serious amount of work planning my next startup (stealth mode). This is going to help millions of people (I hope).

CONCLUSION

My greatest learnings of 2018:

  • People and relationships.
  • Acceptance and gratitude.
  • Know what matters to you.
  • Take care of your body. Take care of your mind. You’re no good to anyone you care about if you don’t care about yourself.

It’s great to be able to run 5k again (and more, if I tried), but when reflecting on 2018 on the whole, I know I’ve come a long way.

Hope this helps you. And do share it with someone in pain.