In the last 48 hours I, amongst others, lost a dear colleague and friend Audrey Brown, who passed away after a protracted battle with a recurring illness. It is a deeply sad moment, as the reality sinks in.

This is my heartfelt tribute and gratitude to an inspirational lady who exuded love, fun, beauty and grace. We hadn’t known each other that long. We met at a TV Presenter’s course in the early part of this year. In fact the group that we were part of had a special connection because of the respective journeys that bought us to this point, and how we wanted to grow and serve others beyond by developing our skills. It was a coming together that was refreshing and went beyond conscious awareness.

During the 5 days of training and into the months beyond, further conversations exchanged, and it seemed we had journeyed far due to the sharing of a common journey that had at its core, the desire to inspire and help others with our gifts.

There is a huge part of me that always hopes that those with that kind of heart will prevail beyond the average number of years a person may have on this earth because we live in a world that needs more inspiration than ever before, in my opinion. This kind of giving is bigger than any one person has to give, and today we lost an inspirational leader.

Audrey would be too humble to describe herself in such terms, and as highly evolved as she was, she still wanted to attend a recent workshop I held, such was her hunger to continue to learn and grow, and be a catalyst for spreading inspiration.

Not many people could genuinely exude so much life and inspiration with a strong, determined spirit whilst battling in the dark with illness. One of our last conversations was how adversity develops strength and character.

For me Audrey shone even brighter in the dark hours of her illness. Even from her hospital bed she was sharing her journey and sending out video clips as her energy allowed, displaying a warrior mentality, a never-say-die attitude, with a continued encouragement for us all to live inspirational lives.

Like an evergreen, she consistently saw the beauty in human beings, she was gracious and so giving. Even in her hour of need, she would cheer me from the sidelines when I shared my inspirational message in its various forms.

Audrey was fun loving, full of life and selfless in her sharing. She sprinkled exuberance for life everywhere with remarkable consistency. She was reconciled with adversity as a part of life, not an intrusion on life, and she met it with boldness and grace.

So as a human being, I feel that loss and sadness deeply. We all grieve in different ways and maybe do battle with difficult emotions, whether they be rational or not, and each person processes and expresses things differently.

However what is also emerging in me very strongly is how this amazing human being showed up in the world with such consistent love and inspiration, the light of which no dark hour could put out. She has held a mirror up to us all, in effect, to show what the human spirit is capable of.

It is this which rises within me, and as surely as the night time gives way to the dawn of a new day, this will galvanize me to continue to develop the best version of me, so that the world, including me, can thrive. She has left me richer than when we last spoke and for that and all I have expressed above, I am truly and eternally grateful.

May we all continue that legacy, take on the baton of inspiration, and share and serve others through our gifts and abilities, to leave this world in a more beautiful place than we found it, just as she did. I feel her cheering on through her spirit.

My favorite sport is football, but it is International Rugby that provides the backdrop of today’s reflection on becoming unstoppable. When I recall the rugby days of David Duckham, Andy Ripley, Roger Uttley and Bill Beaumont, followed by a new generation of stars in the 90s such as Will Carling and Johnnie Wilkinson, one man rises above all others as a global star and rugby legend.

In recent months, rugby and indeed the sporting world paid tribute to the great Jonah Lomu, whose life sadly came to an end at the young age of 40 years in November 2015

He has been heralded globally as someone who changed rugby, combining strength, speed, agility and intelligence on the wing, like none before him, to outrun, outwit and seemingly swat his opponents out of the way, en route to scoring multiple tries. He graced the world of rugby and crowd attendances rose, as many watched a man in action described as ‘unstoppable’

The tendency among so many people watching such success is to observe with a mild or greater degree of envy that they may have been bestowed with luck or special qualities. What many fail to appreciate about Jonah Lomu was the huge obstacles he had to get by to obtain such success.

I am not so much referring to his childhood and exposure to domestic violence at the hands of his father, or the gang culture that exposed his troublesome youth. It is the critical illness he overcame on a day by day basis to grace the rugby field and the world with a display of skill, speed and power that had not been seen to this degree

Jonah Lomu was diagnosed with a critical illness only 2 years after breaking onto the international scene at 19years old in 1994. Many will remember his world cup performance in 1995 against England where he scored 4 tries. His diagnosis came in 1996 requiring him to take time out for treatment. Yet this man refused to lie down and bow to the medical implications of his condition, choosing to live his rugby dream.

The illness would rob him of muscle strength particularly in his legs. Yet strength is what he worked on both inwardly and outwardly, and belief is what he cultivated. He made a comeback in 1997, and won an Olympic Gold in 1998. His last international appearance was in 2002 before his illness worsened, requiring him to have a kidney transplant in 2004. He made it his goal and dream to play in the world cup of 2007

An Insight into Jonah Lomu

 

I do not know many people who could go overnight from prolific rugby star to struggling to walk to the fridge due to the loss of muscle and nerve conduction in the legs, and then defy medical expectations of becoming wheelchair bound to make it back to the rugby field. Jonah made a comeback in 2005 but unfortunately did not manage to secure a super rugby contract, which denied him his dream of a World Cup place in 2007. He retired from the international scene and was later desrevedly inducted into the Rugby Hall of Fame

He was not supposed to be able to have children, yet the impossible happened when his wife gave birth to two children in 2009 and 2010, and he devoted himself to becoming the best possible dad, whilst contributing to world peace through sport via the Champions for Peace Club, What does this man teach us about unstoppability?

When you are unstoppable, you are not void of challenges in life, neither are you immune to doubts and fears. Challenges can come in many forms on many levels, physically, mentally and otherwise. What separates those who are unstoppable from those who are not is the capacity to get back up when life knocks them down, to navigate challenges with a perspective that allows them to keep moving forward to achieve their goals, dreams and lifestyle aspirations .

Such people are characterised by a ‘never say die’ attitude. Rather than ignoring the obstacles they look at what lies beyond and adjust their focus accordingly until they reach thir desired destination. Their resilience and resolve do not decrease in the face of challenge, rather they increase.

Somewhat ironically his body could not hold his undying spirit, and yet his life continues to breathe life into those who wish to become and remain unstoppable, myself included. When people who read my book Breaking Free remark about my irrepressibility, I can only humbly testify to the undying influence on my life of such icons as Jonah Lomu from whom I continue to learn how to be unstoppable. You can get his Jonah Lomu’s Autobiography from Amazon too.

 

 

 

I often recall the words of a famous person who inspired me during his lifetime – a certain Nelson Mandela who sadly passed away two years ago in December 2013. What he left behind continues to hold relevance for the issues that many individuals face in their lives, as well as the evolution of mankind.

As a former football player, coach, mental health nurse and current sports presenter in women’s football, I have witnessed and appreciated first-hand how football breaks down barriers where mental health, cross cultural harmony and global peace are concerned.

Mandela saw sport as a great instrument for building bridges in well-being, worldwide reconciliation and peace. He also talked about the importance of education as a tool to empower lives.

‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’ N Mandela

That got me thinking about education. When I grew up I received the traditional basic education which equipped me with knowledge as far as subject matters were concerned.  That got me to college and beyond, and I fared well with hard work.

However, what I noticed as time progressed was how redundant a lot of that knowledge became where  living and dealing with real life issues was concerned.

As I continued to evaluate my knowledge against my ability to impact my life and others in a progressive manner, I often noticed a significant imbalance. I knew so much more than I actually applied.

It was another part of Mandela’s life that was to speak to this discovery and from which I was to draw wisdom in order to address the gap between personal knowledge and influence.

Nelson Mandela’s description of his personal journey in the book ‘The Long Walk To Freedom’ informed me about the power of a transformational journey.  His journey went beyond education, and engaged the human spirit in an inspirational way.

That energy did not originate from intellectual understanding. It put the flesh on the bones of his knowledge, and enabled him to mobilise his inner resources under extreme constraint, and find inner freedom, during a 27 year physical imprisonment.

His human conquest, self-discovery and evidence of what the human spirit can do, makes him an authority on freedom, because it comes from a place of consistent demonstration, not words.

There is a common saying that knowledge is power. I have come to the conclusion that this is not so. Knowledge on its own, without the capacity to influence lives positively, is powerless. Education on its own is not enough when you seek transformation.

Inspire means ‘breath within’.  It represents that life force that moves us to improve or change something in our life. This is an essential key that was missing in my life for so long.

I have discovered that if there is one thing more powerful than education, it is inspiration.  Combine education with inspiration, and even greater empowerment takes place.

This is what I found when I embarked on a journey that took me beyond intellectual capacity to inspirational influence, and the combination of inspiration and education is what shaped my book and song Breaking Free.

I come across so may intelligent people in coaching and life, who know so much at an intellectual level, yet lack the capacity to make it count significantly when it comes to their own personal growth.

Much of my life’s work revolves around inspiring and helping others to awaken towards self-reconciliation and healthy self-esteem as part of the transformational journey to personal freedom.

Those who do so experience profound release and breakthrough.  Are you willing to give yourself the gift of personal freedom through your own transformational journey? Here are a few tips to get started.

Tips:

  1. Look with honesty at the ratio between knowledge and application in your life
  2. Decide to redress the balance if needed. There is power in a decision
  3. Expose yourself to the personal journey and teachings of those who inspire you in the qualities you wish to develop. This is the quickest way to break free, because the inspiration will move you to make the change. That is your starting point.