Last Monday afternoon my son, Daniel, was born. And I was there.
I had a front row seat.
And it was one of the most extraordinary moments of my life.
I got to hold him against my bare skin for half an hour. And then, I had to drive to Geneva to meet a client from UNICEF.
The following morning I kicked off a 3-day conference with a keynote speech for the same client on Breakthrough Innovation and the Global Goals.
This week I met Tony Blairâ€™s political strategist for a meeting in London. And tomorrow I go to Brussels to run a workshop.
Leaving my son and wife like this, some people would say I am out of mindâ€¦
Let me explain.
Every child is born with a unique gift.
Every child is born an artist, the problem is remaining one as he grows up. Pablo PicassoPablo PicassoYou have a unique gift.
I have a unique gift.
And this is how we will tackle the challenges each of us face in our life.
This is how you climb your mountain. It’s how you fulfill your God-given potential.
It’s how we will tackle the global goals… it’s how we will end poverty and hunger and provide clean drinking water and tackle climate change.
It’s also how you will find true meaning in your life.
It’s how you will find peace and love.
The problem is our education system kills the gifts we are born with, as Sir Ken Robinson points out in the most watched TED Talk.
Itâ€™s not just education though. Businesses do too. And society.
I should know.
You see, I havenâ€™t always painted on mountain-tops and delivered keynote speeches to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.
Itâ€™s taken me 25 years to get here. Let me explain.
When I was 16 two things happened in quick succession. I had a breakthrough and a breakdown: I had been working on a painting for about two months and suddenly a pink mist appeared on the canvas… I had never used pink before and never used the brush in this way.
I had no idea where this technique came from either. And then turquoise appeared on the canvas! The whole painting transformed. I was SO excited! Someone even offered to buy the painting for Â£200!!! WOW!
I was an artist… a dream come true.
And then, two weeks later, my dad came to me, after speaking to my art teacher and told me I would never make money as a professional artist. My hopes, my dreams, my future was dashed. Shattered!
As ephemeral as the pink mist on the canvas. Gone. If my dad wasn’t on board, nor the art teacher who had guided me through school… who would support me financially?
I intended to go to art college, to become an artist. And he wouldn’t support me.
Was it my dad’s fault? Should I blame him?
No. Although it took me a while to work that one out. He was just picking up my own doubts. The truth is, I wasn’t sure either.
And so he told me this truth, with love. In his own direct, painful way.
So I accepted to go to University instead of Art College. I studied business not art.
And my creativity died a slow painful death. Yes, I got an A in my final art exam, but no more bright colours… heavy sombre details replaced bright, vibrant strokes… I had regressed from post-impressionist joy to Rembrandt-esque darkness, without the light… something died inside me that day.
Would I ever refind it?
It took me 25 years. 25 years!
In between, I experienced what it’s like to live without creativity. I lost my first job, because in part I wasn’t creative enough. I had drinking and eating problems. For three years at University, I was terrified every meal that I would be physically sick! I drank myself into hospital twice.
And I couldn’t tell anyone. I just had to man-up… whatever that meant!
I even wondered whether life was worth it…
And I didn’t pick up a paintbrush or a pencil once.
My heart cracked wide open. And I couldn’t even feel it.
My stomach so tense, I couldnâ€™t even eat.
I couldn’t hold down a job or keep a relationship, because I didn’t think I was good enough.
But deep down… somewhere, in the depths of my soul, there was still a voice that believed. It still believed in me, despite it all.
It was just very, very quiet, drowned out by the thunderous noise in my head.
The path back wasn’t easy. Some moments have been terrifying… It started just after visiting Machu Picchu in Peru… one day after 9/11. An extraordinary guide told me I had a beautiful heart and I needed to listen to it. She told me I would climb back up my mountain, if only I got out of my head and listened to my heart.
I burst into floods of tears… sobbing openly in a bar. I knew this was a deeper truth.
Some part of me could hear her. I was still alive.
Each step back to where I am, brought another breakthrough… as I climbed, tooth and nail, back up my mountain… a voice deep inside me, driving me on, urging me back.
Who was that voice? And what did it want from me? Why me?
Along the way I have picked up technique, after technique… to breakthrough to another level… to tear down the barriers I erected in my mind that separated me from ME… to climb just that bit higher.
25 years. 25 years. Twenty-five years. That’s too long. FAR, FAR too long.
Imprisoned in my own mind.
We donâ€™t have 25 years. My son doesnâ€™t have 25 years. Or my daughter.
We have 15 to reach the Global Goals.
How many years do you have to reach your goals?
And what are they?
What does your inner voice tell you?
What is your unique gift?
And how do you express it in the world in a way that changes your world for good?
You see, my story is your story. Just change a few words and we are all the same. We all have our stories. Just like we all have our unique gifts.
So what can you do? How can you make more of your unique gift?
Actually itâ€™s very, very simple. You donâ€™t have to save the world. All you have to do is listen to your inner voice again… increase its volume… tear down the barriers in your mind so that your God-given gift shines again, brilliantly… listen to it every moment of every day.
Yes. Get out of your head. Go out of your mind.
Our intellect is a faithful servant. Our intuition is a sacred gift.Albert EinsteinYour brilliance is not intellectual. Itâ€™s intuitive.
And the doorway to creativity isnâ€™t stuck in your head. Itâ€™s in your heart, your gut, your soul.
Itâ€™s time to stop thinking and start feeling.
You see, you were born to be brilliant, to shine your unique gift in every moment. Every day.
I painted with my heart and soul, and in the process I lost my mind.Vincent Van GoghAnd that’s why I stood up on that stage last week. And why I went to London this week. And why Iâ€™m going to Brussels tonight.
Because I believe in your unique gift.
I believe in your spirit.
And I know, that your unique gift can help you. No matter what.
It only takes one moment to have a breakthrough… a single moment to reveal your unique giftâ€¦ you don’t need 25 years. All you need is a single moment. And then everything changes.
All of us are going through enormous changes every day…
What change are you going through? Are you trying to set up a new business or launch a new project?
Or are you unsure what your business is? Are you worried you may not make it?
Do you wish you could just throw caution to the wind and go for it?
Or are you concerned you might not be good enough? Or that you won’t make good money? Or that you’ll lose your soul in the process?
If so, I get you. I promise. Really I understand. Because I’ve been there too.
Just remember, that voice isnâ€™t you! You are not that voice. Thatâ€™s not you.
You are far, far greater than that.
Standing on top of a mountain when the paint is freezing and everyone else is skiing makes one wonder in awe at how immense we truly are.
So, as you make whatever change you are making, let me encourage you to consider how it will help you shine your unique gift? How will it help reveal more of how you really are? How will it help you change your world for good?
If you would like to find out more about how to create breakthroughs in your life that help express your unique gift, join me for a free webinar next Tuesday. Iâ€™ll open my toolkit and share my very best techniques with you.
You can sign up below.