9 July 2012

I was invited to talk in London last week at a dinner on the subject of Motivating, Building and Incentivising Teams. It’s a topic that is close to my heart and something that, whilst I am far from the finished article, I enjoy immensely.

The obvious motivating character is Tony Robbins. At 6ft 7inches, he is a giant of a man and his personality is in equal proportion to his size. Tony is someone who will punch the air, shout loudly and you can imagine him picking up a sword and charging into the mist.

At the same time, he is no ordinary motivator as he doesn’t just posses this one skill. Tony is blessed with the ability to listen and has the articulation and power of understanding of a man who has lived for a thousand years.

But who or what inspired Tony? Well, to get great or master something you have to obsess about it, and Tony talks of the 1000’s of books he’s read and the seminars and tapes he’s listened to.

But it’s a chap called Earl Nightingale who I believe inspired Tony more than any other single person. Whilst Earl’s ideas and talks  follow very different styles, they follow too similar a pattern not to be related.

I went to a business dinner where we listened to a Harvard Professor Shawn Anchor talking about a similar subject. His material was literally lifted from Earl’s work and he sounded like a Tony clone, but without the same degree of passion. His talk lacked congruency.

In the Q&A session afterwards, I put up my hand. I am not someone who’d normally ask a question but I couldn’t help myself. Here is a man, taking other peoples’ ideas and, whilst there is nothing wrong with this, I didn’t feel it was right for him to pass them off as his own.

Funnily enough, when I asked “had Earl Nightingale influenced any of his work?” he denied knowing or ever hearing about the man. I pressed him further and explained who Nightingale is and how he influenced Robbins. In a panic, the speaker locked up and denied even hearing or knowing any of Tony Robbin’s work.

Now if you are a motivational speaker, and you are American and you own a TV, or a radio, it is impossible to have missed the 10 million or so “infomercials” of Tony Robbins’ Hour Of Power. He quite literally saturated the market.

I explained that Earl Nightingale, inspired after being on a vessel in Pearl Harbour where over 2000 fellow sailors died, went on to be a radio host who sold more than a million records of the spoken word. He’d have been top of the charts if this was in music terms.

It’s probably likely that the near death experience and the sheer horror of that day, lived with Earl and drove him every day.

Back in London, after my talk, I was lucky enough to have very friendly questions in the Q and A session. Someone asked me about what drove me, describing my energy levels as “infectious.” I explained about my avalanche accident back in 2001 and how that, as with Earl’s, this kind of experience makes you focus on the importance of time. It sounds corny out of context, but essentially I try and cram as many experiences into life as is humanly possible.

So many people I know, especially some of the successful business folk, completely miss the picture and have disconnects with their family and children. Yes, business is important and I love it, but it’s people and relationships that make the world go around.

During my talk, I’d described motivation as “inspiring people to get more out of a given time than they’d ordinarily do.” It’s the link with time that is key if you are going to be a great motivator or get motivated yourself. We can all complete tasks, but if you can do 50 in the same time it takes someone else to do 5, you are going to be 10 times more effective.

Someone else pressed me further on my energy levels and asked how they achieve this focus without having to experience a similar near death experience. It’s a million-dollar question and one I have pondered often.  It got me thinking.

It just so happened it turned out to be one of those days.

Isn’t it amazing how life keeps you levelled? One minute you are up and the next you are fighting tears from your eyes. I was about to have one of those days.

Exactly to the day, 6 years ago our second daughter Poppy was born and we moved into a new house. At the crack of dawn, I left Gail and our new-born baby in hospital to go and organise the removal men. I wanted everything spotless and in place in our new home for the moment she arrived.

I picked Gail up from hospital, I had our two mums mucking in and organising back at the new house. By the time Gail and Poppy arrived it looked fantastic.

Gail simply said, “Where are Indie and Lara?”

We’d been to choose a couple of Boxer puppies 2 weeks before Poppy was born. We couldn’t pick them up though as we still lived in our flat in town. Gail looked shocked that I’d compromise my original plan to pick up the dogs the moment we’d moved in, just because we’d had a baby on the same day!

So, off I went with my tail between my legs to pick them up.

As I wasn’t allowed to call my first daughter Indie (Anna) Jones for obvious reasons, I saved the name for my first dog who over the next 6 years became my closest companion.

It’s ironic that on Poppies 6th birthday, the anniversary of the day we moved in and picked up Indie and Lara, he chose to pass away peacefully. I’d been lying underneath the oak tree in our garden with my head on his neck looking up at the sky through the branches. We spent many an hour both outside and in front of the open fire in Wales in this position.

We dug Indie’s grave in the gounds of Castell Cidwm by the side of our lake Llyn Cwellyn. It is a most beautiful place.

We buried him with a pair of my walking boots, a UKFast beanie hat, a Bolivar cigar and laid a map of his favourite mountain range over the blanket we wrapped him in.

I lit a cigar and sat with him in the beautiful rain coming down over the lake shrouded in mist as the sun came down and the sky darkened. I will never forget that moment; it’s one I will treasure. Thank you Joe.

You don’t have to nearly die to appreciate life, you merely have to value the people around you and remember that nothing lasts forever.

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