5 September 2010
I closed the big black wrought iron gates. Stared hard back at the home I’d helped build, I painted that house. It was a beautiful home, but one that housed so many sad memories. It reminded me why I was going. I didn’t want to leave, I simply had no other options.
I had already said goodbye to my friends at school. It had all happened so quickly. One minute I didn’t have a care in the world, my focus was on next seasons rugby and the place I’d earned on the 1st XV. Then suddenly I was told I couldn’t remain at the school. My parents could no longer afford the school fees.
I never really believed this and as I stared through the gates I shook my head thinking at the double standards as my sister remained in her school. If one of us had to give it up, then I am glad it was me, but the devastation I was feeling knowing I would never again feel the exhilaration of playing in front of the school, representing the greatest schoolboy rugby team in Wales. An honour I had worked thousands of hours training for. I can never put this feeling into words. It was simply unbearable.
I opened the door, climbed in the car and faced forward. This was the end of everything and everyone I knew. I felt the resentment, like fuel pouring onto a burning fire. I was raging. I still am if I think about it.
I was never to return to Garden Cottage in the same capacity. I lost all my personal belongings, my identity, apart from a cricket bat, a photograph and a diary I do not have one a single thing that is pre-1986 in my possession. My parents sold the house shortly after to buy a hotel, all my belongings were thrown in a skip, so I never got to close that chapter of my life.
Its an emotion I use to power me through life, it gives me a drive that I still have never witnessed in anyone else I have met. I don’t mean to belittle anyone elses drive, as so many people achieve so many great fetes, however I genuinely believe that the sequence of events that unfolded created a strange combination of hulk like properties that are truly imbalanced and disproportionate running through my veins. I have searched the globe to find a kindred spirit and continue to do so.
For many years I went from one disaster to another. No matter how hard I tried to be successful, my emotions were so extreme I was unable to win small, and consequently when I made mistakes I’d lose BIG. My father called this the snakes and ladders principal.
Then one day it changed. Meeting a girl in Manchester with the same surname as my late grandfather’s football team, I looked upto the sky, and nodded. The difference between coincidence and destiny is simply your outlook. A “cup-half-empty” person sees “coincidence” and “cup-half-full” character sees “destiny.” This was destiny, off the scale. The girl I refer to is 10 years my younger and still is funnily enough, she is my now wife Gail. She saw something in me that no one else saw and she is the only girl who has the strength of character to harness the passion in side of me, giving me direction and something to fight for.
It is this focus that determines whether or not people like me are absolute failures or absolute successes. Together we have both leant so much. We have become proud parents and I look back at Garden Cottage a house that I once thought as the ultimate dream that never was and I look now at my 2 girls bouncing around this place with my 2 dogs Indie and Lara dancing to Abba. Funny isn’t it, eras change, people change, different places, yet I cant seem to escape Abba.
I remember something Richard said to me on on Necker about his own personal drive. He said something along the lines that he is a different person now than he was 20 years earlier. He never conceded that he had less drive or determination, he is far too competitive for this.
Consider this, my runs with Richard Branson were all well over 2 hours in length. He was 59 years old at the time, now 60. Imagine what his drive was in his youth. I believe what gives Richard his youthful spirit and determination is the fact that he is still pumped full of testosterone and he is clearly proud of the fact.
Driving down the hill that day a tear rolled down my left cheek. I brushed it away with my shoulder. I remember every heart beat. I looked left at the huge garden wall unable to see a thing as the tears rolled uncontrollably, I gave up trying to wipe them away shaking my head slowly. I will never forget this feeling. The feeling of having everything taken away from me. I don’t want to forget the feeling either. The pain. This is the very same pain that drives me harder than anyone else on the planet. This is the drive that I now have learnt to love. This is the emotion my wife learnt how to harness. She knows how to open the furness door. She knows when to shovel in more coal and which direction to head me in. She also understands that once I have started, there is no stopping me and this trait makes the initial target so important.
I love a target. I love to compete to the bitter end. I love winning and I even love losing because I know I will have competed beyond comprehension. I just love fighting. I love pain, there is solace in pain. I remember on the rugby pitch I never lost my cool. Once in the USA, in New York I went to watch Pete my best friend play rugby. The oposing team was a man down. I put on a shirt to help the opposing team, and Pete walked off the pitch. He was very calm, but said, “there is absolutely no way I am playing on the opposite team to Loz.” They were curious at what Pete meant. Pete was always shrewd and suggested, “well if you want to see what I mean, pick anyone from the backs on our team and we’ll swap him.” We rejigged the numbers, they took the biggest guy and a I ended up playing for Pete’s team. We destroyed the opposition, we systematically dismantled them limb from limb. I organised the backs and the forwards into a military unit. I held everyone accountable and everyone one on our team knew what it was like to fight within an inch of your life.
There are a bunch of Americans who will never forget that day. It was a day they had never worked harder. A day they raised their standards where everything they tried just came off. Somehow these guys who didn’t grow up going to sleep with a rugby ball in their bed and weren’t drilled like Pete and I, played out of their skin. The pitch was hard and the blood and hits were extraodinary. It was an amazing occassion, one that I cherish. I made some great friends that day on both sides of the park.
How you harness the power inside of you is crucial. Your future balances delicately between success and failure in everything you do… but it doesn’t have to.
Firstly you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Strengths deployed at the wrong time are sometimes peoples downfall. I am lucky, I have Gail. I not only let her choose the destination, everything I do, I do it for her. I take it personally.
Secondly you need to understand what drives you, what motivates you. What events in your past really stir up emotion. Quite often these are your “limiting beliefs” and they are actually the things that are holding you back. For example, if enough people tell you you wont be good at something, eventually this will rub off and effect your performance. You have to listen to this then stand up for yourself and tell yourself “you are great,” then use the negative comments of others to drive you. Stuff everyone else’s belief in you. You are amazing, truly amazing. Be inspired, be properly inspired you only get one chance at this life and this is your opportunity. Switch off your television, go and give your wife girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, children, friend, in fact give everyone a massive hug. Embrace everyone, embrace life. Get your running shoes on and get off the sofa and stop reading this blog and go and run and try like you have never tried before.
If you are looking to learn how to motivate others or you want to come and join me on my quest, pick up the phone and give my team a call. I am waiting to hear from people just like you. Thank you for reading. Be inspired. Loz