Brett don’t do that! No! Some of my oldest childhood memories and which I’m sure my parents are still feeling the ramifications of me not listening. Growing up with a soccer ball attached to me wherever I went, my family soon realized that soccer just wasn’t going to be enough for me. With exuberant amounts of energy and rarely listening I found myself in a martial arts school shortly after, of course with my soccer ball waiting for me outside.
The love of soccer and martial arts amplified as the years passed, little did I know that learning to push myself and challenge the status quo at such a young age would pay dividends for the rest of my life, most importantly the discipline behind it all.
I loved the singular challenge, the pressure of knowing it was all on me, martial arts challenged me in ways I never imagined, I always dreamed of winning a medal in taekwondo. At the age of twenty, I stood on top of the podium with a gold medal around my neck at the BC Taekwondo Provincial Championship. After many accomplishments and victories, I was selected to train in Beijing with some of the world’s greatest athletes and coaches, an honour I still regard with humility and gratitude. Learning one of my most valuable lessons, failing is not failure.
Unfortunately, I was about to face the biggest fight of my life. Physical and mental pain plagued me, after years of pain and suffering, doctors diagnosed a rare disease – gastroparesis, a partial paralysis of the stomach. There is no cure. The specialists told me my life as a black belt taekwondo competitor was over. All my dedication, hard work, and commitment were gone, most importantly my dreams of the Olympics. At twenty-five years old, I felt like a hundred. Even though I was weak, in pain, and depressed, I couldn’t ignore my childhood memories and be told what not to do.
Tired of hearing “Sorry Brett there is nothing we can do” I had enough when pushed to tragedy I had no other options, no excuses, and no distractions. “I have to do this” became my mantra. My martial arts master introduced me to meditation. After the first week, I felt at ease, to the point where I forgot to take the medication that enabled me to eat. As time progressed my energy started to return and I felt like the kid I was in taekwondo all those years ago, with no worries, no stress. Learning to leverage my adversities into my advantage, I relentlessly trained myself to turn my expectations into appreciation.
Three months later, I felt alive for the first time in years and after some time I tied my black belt and stepped on the mat again. From the vantage point of my newly created perspective, I felt completely at peace. I knew I was born to fight, and my achievements continued, greater than ever. At twenty-nine years old I found myself on the podium at the 2012 Canadian National Taekwondo Championship, a dream I had since my first provincial win.
You can’t trip over something behind you, and the only time you can do anything about the future is now. By focusing on this exact moment and leveraging the “Have to” state I proved to myself that anything is possible. It isn’t too late, and you can do it. Never allow anyone to put limitations on what you can and can’t do. More importantly don’t put them on yourself.
Mindfulness became part of my balance in life, along with nutrition and exercise. There are lessons in life everywhere we choose to look. Leveraging these lessons and transitioning them into giving back, such as patience, discipline, excitement, empathy, drive, resilience, confidence, and personality. I looked for opportunities; and most importantly listened. I now had more ways to connect with people because of having the experience of knowing how hopeless life can feel.
Today, I’m an intelligent fighter. Not just doing something because someone said not to, or I can’t but doing it for a purpose. The greatest gift in life is the ability to give with no expectations, my commitment is to inspire and give with conscious decisions all around the world.
I’m a firm believer that living the life you want is a choice, the journey you experience is filled with advantages, and the lives you impact is more important than what you do or what you have accumulated. Doing what I love is far more important to me than working on something I don’t fully believe in just to survive.
I made one conscious decision that changed my life forever, which I am and always will be so grateful for. It all started with one person, decide and be that person for the world.
Remember failing is not failure,