18 March 2018

Lawrence and Gail Jones cycling through Morocco on the STRIVE challenge for BIG CHANGE

Lawrence and Gail Jones cycling through Morocco on the way to climbing Mount Toubkal on the STRIVE challenge for Big Change.

Sitting with my daughter Poppy earlier today, we were going through her homework for the week ahead. Her task was to design and create a travel brochure for any mountain in the world.

As anyone who regularly reads my blogs knows, my heart is in the mountains so it’s a perfect subject for Dad to help out with! Poppy chose Mount Toubkal, the mountain in Morocco that Gail and I scaled as part of the Big Change STRIVE challenge late last year. Having heard all about the incredible desert and our stories from the trip, Poppy got stuck straight in!

It’s incredible to reminisce and remember the journey now that our aching joints and injuries have healed. It was honestly one of the toughest challenges that we’ve ever faced – relentless terrain cycling to the mountain and then climbing up to the summit in time for sunrise.

Thankfully we were surrounded by a group of truly extraordinary people who made it easier to keep moving even when every bone in our bodies groaned and begged for rest.

When you have a huge mountain to climb like that, the key is always passion. Why are you climbing it? What’s your purpose? For us, it was for a cause greater than just the achievement itself. We helped to raise £700,000 for Big Change across the two weeks from everyone participating. Big Change aims to transform the way we support the next generation – it is a wonderful cause that’s having a real impact on children across the world

Poppy’s homework about Mount Toubkal

The charity came to our attention thanks to Holly and Sam Branson, after a chat about their charity work. Holly has recently launched a her first book, I am looking forward to reading it – they’re extraordinary characters.

Moving Mountains

You absolutely have to be passionate about any challenge you take on. This is something very clearly reflected in business too. Business owners who are not 100% passionate about their business often find that years into it, when it gets tough, they become distracted.

Often these mountains may seem insurmountable; an impossible task. Whether that’s a literal mountain, like Toubkal, or a challenge at home or at work. It’s the purpose and the reason why, that will carry you through.

It is interesting that I find myself coming back to the reason “why” as I write this post considering one of the other participants of the Strive Challenge in Morocco. Simon Sinek, British-American motivator, is the author of Start with Why. This book is fantastic as it drills down into the motivation of why we do things and how we stay motivated. I had a few great chats with Simon and the peace and quiet of the mountain was a perfect backdrop to absorb his ideas and interesting observations. The key to success in any area really boils down to asking yourself why you are doing it, asking is the reason big enough.

Richard Branson strive challenge

Richard on the STRIVE challenge.

Everyone has a reason for doing what they do but often we we get distracted. We focus on money or material things. I’ve been asked many times why I keep operating at this pace with UKFast. I’m often asked how I stayed motivated when challenges arise. And I am always asked if money is the motivator behind my work ethic. The simple answer to that is no.


I learned many years ago that my reason why is to make a difference to others.

As a lay buried during the avalanche in 2001, I was frighteningly aware that I’d amounted to nothing. I’d left Gail with a business that was in its fragile early years and not much else. As I recovered from the accident, I knew that my reason for why I was put on this planet, is to make a difference to other people. Ultimately I think that’s why we are all here, it just takes us a long time sometimes to figure it out. My avalanche experience certainly accelerated and accentuated my focus. I am not alone with that either. So often people who have suffered life-threatening situations and survive go on to do extraordinary things.

UKFast is a very simple business. It is built and centred on people – on helping our clients’ businesses to grow and succeed. It’s focussed on helping the team to grow and succeed. And it’s focussed on helping the community to grow and succeed too. That’s my reason why.

It’s this that motivates me and 30 years on in business, it’s a good enough why to still keep me focussed and excited for the journey ahead. That’s the fire in my belly and the fuel that helps me to go the extra mile.

So whether you find yourself feeling buried underneath a mountain, standing on the summit of one or if you are half way up like me now, always remember that it’s the effort and focus that makes the difference. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is simply: extra.

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