How to follow your heart and not your head

How many of us actually live our truth? Whether that be in relationships, friendship groups, or the job that we do day to day…?

I can only talk from personal experience and the social interactions I have had with people but more often than not people are just not happy with who they are, what they have, or what they have become.

Our own educational system forces us to lose the very essence of our own creativity and makes the concept of making mistakes dreaded and fearful. Close you eyes and think back to your childhood…

You stood up, fell over (sometimes it hurt), and stood up again, modifying what you did ever so slightly until you became successful. In adulthood we tend to fall, never to resurface, but to adopt an avoid at all costs mentality.

How many of you have been scared to make mistakes or stand up to your parents even though they had your best interests at heart, only to find yourself in a position you later resented and wished your life had taken a different trajectory?

Perhaps you were told “you can’t do that” or your dreams are “too big” forcing you to divert away from the path that you desired. Instead finding a more comfortable and people pleasing vision for living a life that others intended rather than yourself.

I was dogged in my desire to make it in professional rugby, it didn’t happen but my natural path was paved ahead in somewhat systematic fashion. Most people would bite my right arm off to be in my position even with a potentially life-threatening heart condition!

Whilst I was unable to rub shoulders with professional rugby players as a player I had the next best thing… I was a Sports Psychologist working in high performance sport alongside players worth millions of pounds yet to me these were just human beings pursuing a profession they loved and adored.

Yes, I loved the challenge, immense pressure, and results orientated profession where winning and losing meant whether your job security hung in the balance yet I craved for something bigger, greater, and more powerful than myself or sport alone.

What is it that you desire? What is your purpose? How can you step out of your comfort zone and do something you really want that is greater than you alone?

My parents always had my best interests at heart but they did not know or understand how I felt day to day. My life was shrouded in shame, guilt, and limiting beliefs that rang loudly in my ears. I continuously told myself “I wasn’t good enough” and “a failure”. I had not achieved what I set out to achieve and that hurt hugely as felt ashamed to use my heart condition as an excuse for my own inadequacies on the pitch.

Psychology was a career my father saw as feminine and complete nonsense yet it was a discipline that resonated as it allowed me to learn about my own failings as a rugby player and through my transition out of sport and into normal operating society. I think the fact it was called Sport Psychology made it more palatable in my fathers mind than when I mentioned studying Psychology at A Level.

When have you listened to others rather than your own intuitive guide? What made you go against your own beliefs in order to please others? Hindsight is a wonderful thing but what would you do differently so that you followed your dreams and hearts desire?

Even with years of studying behind me and following a path that was aligned to my initial pursuit in high performance sport I knew my life purpose was far greater and ambitious than the plan drawn out in front of me.

Knowing the immense pressures young athletes are under to perform in pursuit of a professional contract, I have witnessed firsthand the mental health concerns experienced when the dream of becoming a professional athlete all but end at 18 years of age, many of whom have built their lives around football, the club, teammates, and staff from 8 years old.

Experiencing the dreaded lows and thoughts paralleling those of suicide I felt a magnetism pulling me towards something far bigger and personal to myself. Something that utilised my knowledge around psychology, mindset, and career termination that had the potential to powerfully change peoples lives was my blurred vision.

Gravitating towards my natural instincts I moved in the direction of research to contribute to the area of career transitions in a novel way through my doctorate degree. Discovering peoples personal experiences while using the process of writing my own auto-ethnographical account proved therapeutic but failed to ignite the fire in my belly to captivate my thoughts and imagination on a far gargantuan scale.

How have you managed to find your true life’s purpose? What did you do to find your inner calling? What processes did you go through both emotionally and systematically in aligning your heart to what you knew you should be doing? How did you know this was it… this is what I should be doing?

People closest to me thought I was crazy as I searched endlessly for that sprinkling of gold dust that would widen my horizon and give me more than the sporting world could provide. Personal development and investing in oneself had always been of paramount importance and I knew I had knowledge, experience, and qualifications in a wide range of areas that would contribute to powerful shifts in mindset, self-belief, and exciting visions for the future.

What do you need to invest in personally to take you to the next level? What knowledge, learnings, and personal experiences could you utilise to drive your hearts desire and turn dreams into a reality? When you reflect what gaps do you currently have that are preventing you from pressing the accelerator and shifting forward at phenomenal speed?

Investment in a business mentoring scheme run by my good friend, coach and Founder of Animas, Nick Bolton unlocked my narrow perception. It literally raised my own awareness around how I had come to pigeonhole myself within the retired/injured athlete domain.

It was a revolutionary experience amongst five other entrepreneurs that unleashed the birth of Class of Courage as a business. Not only was it to be life-changing for those that it would serve but for myself, the founder for whom the vision exploded into what it has become today.

How many of you in business use mentors/coaches? What do you do when you find yourself stuck in your own thoughts and beliefs? When do you find yourself skyrocketing in terms of your potential? What strategies have you used for finding your own hearts desire?

Class of Courage is a business that I am immensely proud to call my own. It embraces all my personal experiences and education around personal development in creating incredible events for people who have experienced life-changing physical trauma, health conditions, and/or disfigurements. I provide a platform for them to learn to live life more powerfully and to the edge of their own limitations.

My mission is to create an awesome tribe of people who are of like-mind and experience who come together for unforgettable growth, learnings, and breathtaking achievements through “Finding their New Awesome”.

Following my hearts calling came with its own sacrifices… My relationship with my wife would begin to suffer immensely as would my own social circles as I became pretty much redundant.

What personal sacrifices are you prepared to make to make your vision a reality? What can you do to prepare yourself for an inevitable rocky road to limit the magnitude of any disruption caused? How badly do you want it?

Would I change it? Absolutely not! You see when you find something that expands not only your heart but you as a person it becomes captivating. The very thing that looks small on paper has the power to change literally thousands of lives in the process and to me there is nothing greater than sacrificing yourself for that of others if the impact has the potential to be on a gigantic scale.

What regrets do I have you may ask? Well none other than I wished I had managed to find the time to make both hugely important parts of my life work in sync. What I have learnt is that sometimes things have to give especially if they are holding you back from fulfilling your dream.

What things do you need to change in your life to give you the best possible opportunity of achieving your vision? How are you going to implement the changes that could change your life for the better? What changes would ignite the person within and explode your potential?

It takes a very strong person to standby and watch you fail and fail again. I was far worse off financially than had I just focused on a business that was already successful. You only have one life so do you sacrifice your dream, be unhappy, yet financially secure OR do you follow your hearts calling and deliver a service far greater than your own needs and desires? That choice and ability to connect to your own free will is in your hands…

Changing the course of my own trajectory brought wide ranging emotions. I believed in my own skills, knowledge, and personal insights that would kickstart others into redefining what was possible yet I suffered from unbelievable levels of procrastination.

What patterns have you shown when it comes to procrastination? What caused you to procrastinate? How have you overcome procrastination? What number one strategy would you share with others to supercharge their future rather than remain at a standstill?

Out of a fear of failure I did anything but step outside of my comfort zone. Reading books was an obvious place of comfort that made me feel as if I was being constructive without actually taking bold action. Deliberating over tasks that should have taken hours or one week tops was taking months as the uncomfortable feeling of starting from the total unknown triggered levels of heightened anxiety.

Questions would often circulate long into the night around how will I make this work? Where do I start? They make it sound so easy? How do I get people interested in my business? Will anyone be interested? Questions all circulating from my own fears of failure as I knew I had put the lives of others firmly in my hands.

People often tell you how impressed they are with your credentials and experience but how many of us actually take on board what others tell us? Yes we love the positive affirmations yet there is always that shadow of negativity luring over us.

The internal voice speaks softly at first before booming heavily in your ear to tell you “they are just trying to please you” and “they don’t really mean what they say!”.

How many of you still are not happy with your lot? How many of you compare yourselves in a negative way to others in a personal attempt at self sabotage?

Well that was exactly me… No matter how many letters I had after my name or how many qualifications I had completed there was always one more that I needed before I would be proficient enough to deliver an unforgettable experience to my community. Absolute nonsense! It was my way of putting my mouth before my feet with no meaningful action being taken. People do not want theory, textbooks, and models…

They want real, raw truths that hit deep, straight at the core of our emotions. People want you not some second hand rubbish thats been regurgitated a hundred times over! Our biggest learnings are through experience and through the sharing of personal experiences to deliver life-changing, memorable, and inspiring moments of challenge, failure, and resilience.

Following your heart is undeniably the most important thing anyone can ever do in their lifetime. Yes, it comes with challenge but with challenge comes a strong sense of self. You learn to filter in words, thoughts, and people that will turbocharge your potential. I believe those who fail to step into their power and live their truth to help others to explode into their own life of possibility are indeed the selfish ones.

My journey is far from complete but each time I step into those murky waters of the unknown my personal growth catapults forward at astonishing speed. What I have learnt is that shifting my mindset to one of constant learning means I view mistakes through an entirely different lens.

My failings have become my greatest learnings and through those moments of frustration, uncertainty, and fear I feel confident that Class of Courage, a community for people with life-changing physical trauma and health conditions is an incredible space for thousands to witness powerful shifts in mindset. Through the transformational space that is created people will experience their lives literally exploding beyond their own perceived limited beliefs as I support them in “Find their New Awesome”.

As Mark Ryden once said “I believe if you follow your heart and do what you love, success will follow”.

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