S1 Ep9: Stephen Dale
Many people talk about the moment when they hit rock bottom. Well, Stephen Dale literally did when he fell from a 30ft cliff and was as close to death as they come. He has not only fought against the possibility of permanent physical and mental impairments but now has a strong focus on helping people to overcome any challenges they may have in their lives. Here, he shares his incredible journey with Roxanne McCarty-O’Kane.
Watch the video above or continue reading for the full transcript of the interview…
Roxanne – Hello everyone it’s Roxanne McCarty-O’Kane, thank you so much for joining us today again for another edition of the Phoenix Phenomenon. I have with me Stephen Dale today who literally fell of a cliff in 1989. 30 meters down a cliff face on Pyramid Rock in Phillip Island. So it’s not many people who can literally say they’ve hit rock bottom and Stephen is obviously moved on, he’s fully recovered from the massive extensive injuries and is now becoming a source of inspiration and hope for lots of people around the country and around the world through his position as a speaker and coach and workplace trainer and also the author of a book called Bouncing Back When You Hit Rock Bottom. So thank you so much Stephen for joining us today.
Stephen – My pleasure, Roxanne. Thanks for asking me to come along.
Roxanne – Not a problem. So I’ve got to say that it’s not everyday you come across a person that’s had an experience like yours in their lives.
Stephen – And that’s a good thing. I don’t want to meet too many people that’ve had that experience.
Roxanne – Absolutely. And so obviously your story is much, much more than just the accident itself, so I’d really love to see how much we can share with our listeners today. Literally the accident there was a lot of build up to that for you on a personal level before that happened and then obviously post accident the whole recovery process and getting yourself back up on your feet. Sometimes it’s good to start at the beginning so can you tell us a bit about I guess what it was or some of the elements that lead you to being on the cliff that day.
Stephen – It’s a bit of a story but the highlight reel goes as follows is that I was a really happy boy, loved school, had a lot of friends, got bullied at school, couldn’t handle the bullying, turned to alcohol and drugs and self loathing in order to deal with all these things that I couldn’t deal with. And as a result of that, I somewhere along the way knew that the best thing I could do was run away from problems. I know that’s wrong and when I ran away from Brisbane because I was off on a job in Sydney I was like alright I’ll get out of here. It really caved in to the fact that I thought if I leave Brisbane I’ll be leaving my problems behind. I wasn’t quite ready for that responsibility attitude yet so I went to Sydney I thought I’m gonna start again and I’m never coming back, I’m never going back to Brisbane, it’s been a terrible place for me. I’ve made a lot of mistakes that I regret. So I went down to Sydney. As you know, Sydney’s probably not the ideal place to go to if you’ve got certain addictions and if you’ve got a real self loathing thing happening, and it didn’t work out for me. Within a couple of weeks I was surrounded by the same sorts of people doing the same sorts of things and I just thought well, that’s just terrible luck. That’s two terrible cities in a row. So I’ll run away to Melbourne. So I went to Melbourne and the story’s pretty obvious. Same thing happened in Melbourne. I went to Tasmania, running out of lane. And some time during that period of itching around Tasmania I realized that my problems were because of me, that I had something. I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t have any real insight or I just didn’t want to live up to what was going on. I wanted to deny what was happening. So I went back to Melbourne. I got a job working behind a bar in a restaurant, which is a great job for someone with alcohol problems and I met a couple of guys who just happened to be really good blokes and that wasn’t–I didn’t like hanging out with really good people, I felt threatened, which is a silly thing to say. I liked to be with people who were just like me ’cause then I could excuse the way I behaved. These two guys just invited me down to Phillip Island on the weekend to have some fun without alcohol, without drugs, without fighting, just having fun being young blokes. And I went down with them and one of the other things that I had learned in adversely in high school was that I wasn’t good enough. If I wanted you to like me, I wasn’t enough for you. So I had to do crazy, insane things to try to impress you. And the crazy, insane thing that I decided to do was climb a very steep cliff with alcohol and amphetamines in my system with no tread on my shoes. A steep cliff next to the ocean so I was blacked from the ocean’s spray, and I got almost to the top of it and gravity ended up defeating all of my ego and I slipped and I fell. And it wasn’t 30 meters actually, I initially thought it was because the police report said 30 meters so I just assumed that the police report was right. But then this wonderful thing called Google Earth helped me out. It actually says it’s closer to 30 feet. So it’s all written down where it’s 30 meters whereas I changed all that, I’ve now discovered it’s only 30 feet. Thanks to Google Earth.
Roxanne – You say only but that’s still substantial.
Stephen – Yeah, onto rocks it doesn’t end well. It’s not a good story. I fell 30 feet down the cliff face and landed on the rocks on the bottom with terrible, terrible injuries. Very life threatening injuries. And these two wonderful young men decided that instead of running away they were going to save my life and they did extraordinary things for a long period of time until someone else saw and called the ambulance and then the helicopter came and then it was this real Hollywood production trying to get the helicopter to land in that little narrow inlet and land on the beach that was made of rocks. And it was a wonderful day, I wish I would’ve seen it, it would’ve been great.
Roxanne – And the tide was coming in as well, wasn’t it? Because they were working on you for an extended period of time and because of the location of where you fell, the tide was coming in. I remember reading from I think it was Dave’s account, they had to make a decision like do we try and move him or do we just keep doing the CPR and hoping for the best. It was an extraordinary thing that they had to kind of try and comprehend on the fly.
Stephen – Well it was trying to deal with the tide coming in, but it was also with two blokes who had some training at work in regards to CPR and first aid, but a lot of us get training but then when the moment actually comes they thought well I don’t know what to do, what do we do here? I think it was because there was so many things going on and there was so many serious injuries. For example, I had what was known as a common muted fracture of the right occipital, which is basically a shattering of my rear right skull, and as my brain began to swell, that broke off into a dozen different fractures on the base of my head. And then the side of my head opened up from the back and the crack opened my ears through my nose, so through my cheekbone through my nose and the end of my jaw. So the right side of my head basically collapsed. The right eye fell in behind my nose. I dislocated my spine. My legs were very twisted, going off in some unnatural angle. There was the tide coming in. I was bleeding profusely. I lost a lot of skin. So I think it was all of these things happening at once that they didn’t actually have time to stop and assess. They just had to decide either we do something now or we do nothing. And thankfully they decided to form up and started work on me. Gave me CPR for approximately 45 minutes through five heart attacks, which is very difficult given the situation. Just saved my life again and again and again. I also fractured my sternum and all surrounding ribs, so as they were pushing on my chest–
Roxanne – I was getting squeemy at that part, yeah.
Stephen – You read the account. As they were pushing in, the blood was getting worse and the situation, he was wondering if he was killing me. But he just remembered that it’s better that you do something than you do nothing. That really tore my liver in half. The extent of the injuries was extraordinary. But that’s what’s so important to be with the right people at the right time. They went to extreme efforts in order to keep me alive. And I’m only here because of what other people have done.
Roxanne – Absolutely. And how long had you known these blokes for at this stage?
Stephen – About two weeks.
Roxanne – Incredible. That’s really incredible.
Stephen – The joke has always been if they hadn’t know me, maybe they wouldn’t have bothered saving me. Well we did really know you Steve so we did it, but if we hadn’t known you. It’s just extraordinary. But these two guys, only just met them. We only really met each other at parties and I knew Dave’s sister from Brisbane, so that was sort of the loose connection. That was it. And as you would’ve seen from the accounts, that happened Monday and then all of a sudden I was gone forever. It was just being at the right place at the right time or being at the wrong place at the right time.
Roxanne – Absolutely. And I guess for you, how much of that, do you actually remember sliding down the cliff? Or at what stage do you kind of lose your recollection of the day?
Stephen – I can remember the morning. I can remember going to Phillip Island. I can remember certain parts of the morning. I can remember being on that beach. But my memory of that beach does not include the cliff. For some reason, my brain has given me back a little bit of that memory. But not the full picture. So in regard to climbing the cliff and obviously falling and what happened over the next week, no I don’t have any real memories, but I do have some sketchy weird memories from when I was in my coma. But that’s also because a lot of people have given me a lot of information that my brain, certain parts says I sort of remember them, actually I do. Most things that people tell me during that time of course I’ve got no memory at all. Whatever they say I believe. So no, thankfully I don’t have any memory of that moment and I don’t want to get that memory back.
Roxanne – No, no. Fair enough too, my goodness. And so was it a week that you were in a coma for, or was it a longer period of time?
Stephen – It was classified as five days of being unconscious. It’s really important to understand the coma that I was in was not like your Hollywood coma where people lie perfectly in the bed, full makeup, hair done, and there’s a little machine that just beeps for your heart. Mine was a very, they called it a very aggravated coma. So what they did was they gave me an entire ward and they covered the floor from wall to wall with mattresses so that I could just thrash around crazily for five days. So that was because of my brain injury, the fact that I was also a very aggressive person, the fact that I was actually fighting for my life in a real way. So when my dad and my sister came down, their attitude was look, we know he’s broken his spine or he’s dislocated his spine. My spinal cord thankfully is not damaged so I’m still able to move around. And I had a lot of injuries but to the doctors, they were secondary to the brain. So they said look even if he breaks his spine, break down his spinal cord, even if he does further injury to himself while thrashing around on the floor, we’re going to let him do that because what his brain cannot handle is being tied down. So that was five days of dad crawling along side of me when I was wrestling on the floor telling me to fight, you’re a fighter, you’re a fighter, you keep fighting this, you keep fighting this, whispering this in my brain. And my sister there looking after me and carrying around my drip tray and all of these things so it was a very eventful five days and there was some interesting moments during that five days.
Roxanne – Yeah my goodness. And I imagine those five days are really horrific for the others to have seen you go through. But then of course you had the long recovery journey as well. When you were conscious again and realizing the extent of your injuries and what you were up against.
Stephen – Sure. It took me a long time. I was conscious again for quite a long time. Probably six to eight weeks until I realized that I was in hospital because my brain basically wiped out my past so I had no recollection of my past so I had nothing to compare it with. I didn’t think well I’m not at home, I’m not out with my friends, I’m not at the pub. I’m in hospital. All I remembered about anything was being in hospital. And I couldn’t speak. I could speak but in a very childish broken way. If you know anybody’s that had a stroke because I also had a brain hemorrhage when I was in my coma so I had the brain hemorrhage on top of the brain injury. Sort of really damaged my sensory organs. Each of those five closed down at different times. It was a long, torturous time. But because I didn’t have anything to compare myself with, I think I dealt with being in hospital and dealing with the pain and all the problems much better because I didn’t think of oh gee life should be much better. This was my life and that’s what I remembered. That was all that my life had ever been.
Roxanne – Wow, okay. Once you were becoming a bit more aware of what your situation was, that would’ve been so overwhelming and it would be quite easy to fall into depression and think oh my gosh. But as you said, if you thought you were starting from scratch and that’s what life was, how did you find that balance? Or when was it that you, I guess that switch came back on and you went oh hang on, life is not the hospital.
Stephen – It was when I noticed that some of the patients, because I was in four different hospitals, and the wards that I were in were quite serious wards. A lot of people never made it out of that ward. And when I saw people coming and then being taken away, or coming for a little time and then skipping up and walking away, I simply thought oh that’ll happen to me. I’ll just walk out of here or I’ll get carried out. And I didn’t really understand what that was all about until– it wasn’t a big moment or now I’ve realized what it is. I just sort of pieced little pieces together and I’d been there for a long time and I was really popular with everyone. I think they liked to come and see the freak circus I really was really banged up for a long time. Really badly damaged especially facially and in my body. I just started to realize that they know me from somewhere else. They don’t know me from here. And when they would tell me the stories of who I am and what I’m like and what they know me from, I started to think about the life that I must have. And at about that time I actually got most of my memory back in a big rush. So I combined what I remembered with what seemed logical and I thought well how long am I gonna be here for? And because that was an endless question, there was no response to that, we’re gonna keep you here until we’ve operated to fix as many things as we can and then we’ll see what happens. And the thought was to put me in a home afterwards because my injuries, especially brain injuries, were very bad and there was not expected to be any recovery, or if there was going to be any recovery it was going to be very small. So I wouldn’t work, I wouldn’t get a job, I wouldn’t live any sort of meaningful life. I’d be at home. So that was the whole idea behind what was going to happen next, but no one really brought that to my attention. I found out about that much later.
Roxanne – Right, okay. And so from there you mentioned four different hospitals. How long was it before you were allowed to go home. And at what stage, at what milestone did you have to reach before they said okay, you can go home now.
Stephen – Well when I was in my third hospital, I was in a particular ward basically for people with a serious brain injury. That’s what the ward was. And the people in the ward were really every extreme of brain injury. Some were fine they just had no memory or they couldn’t read or write, they had cognitive problems. Others were extremely violent. Other were very moody. Others were believing they were talking to somebody who wasn’t really there. There was a whole issue. So it was at the place where I thought I gotta get out of here, and because I had lost about 45 kilos in 36 weeks and I was now in a body cast from neck to knee and 6 foot 2 at that time, after they stretched my spine and after the spinal fusion, and I was very, very vulnerable to everybody and there were some very violent, angry people there, and I was threatened by them physically several times. And so when the cast had set, I was allowed to then go home on weekends, go home on parole. As long as my parents could find someone who’s got a truck big enough because I can’t sit down. I’m neck to knee in cast. So you’ve got to lie me down and strap me in. Ambulances aren’t a taxi service. So they weren’t gonna come all the way and then go 50 miles to drop me off at home and then pick me up the following Monday morning. So we had some friends and then it was sort of like report to us what Steve’s like at home, can he survive, is he okay? Can you look after him because I required a lot of different assistance. And after the first weekend yeah I was okay. And then it was football season so there was football on the telly and there was sport on the telly and I wasn’t being bullied at home. I wasn’t being threatened at home. So the thought came to mind of I’d rather be there than here, meaning I don’t wanna be in hospital. So when I left hospital, when I left the third hospital, I just went to a day hospital for my speech therapy and occupational therapy and physio therapy and memory therapy and all that sort of stuff for a long time. But during that period, I started to get my independence back. I started to want to do everything by myself because I’m a very independent person. I used my independence in all the wrong ways before the accident, which I call BC, before cliff. I was very independent back then and then all of a sudden I’m very dependent on everybody for everything, and that just didn’t sit well with me. So I eventually got home. I started my own rehab to fix everything that I’d lost. And in those days, it was 1989 or 1990 when I was home, it wasn’t believed that the brain could rehabilitate. If you damaged your brain, that was it. That was a long time before they believed in neuroplasticity so I had ten years. I gave myself forever. While I’m alive, I’m gonna do this. But it took me ten years to be able to teach myself how to read, how to write, how to speak, how to converse with people, how to have a relationship, how to dress myself, how to clean my teeth, all those things that my brain had left aside. I just had to teach myself how to do them because I couldn’t be taught. My brain went into severe anxiety and panic mode if someone gave me even the slightest instruction, it would be panic station. So I just had to figure it out for myself, which makes things a lot harder. If you wanna really frustrate yourself Roxanne, teach yourself how to do something that you don’t know how to do and don’t ask for help. That was my twenties. So that was from 1990 through to probably 1999 to 2000, just constant rehab every day, teaching myself how to live again.
Roxanne – And do you recall what it was that ignited that desire in you, that drive to embark on that process?
Stephen – I’ve been asked that question a lot, and a lot of people would like me to give some huge meaning of life statement and some the universe was calling me. There have been times when I have made things up just to entertain them, the people who really want me to say that. But the reality is when I was in hospital, I was so well looked after, especially by two young nurses. Now you know where this story’s gonna go from here. But because I couldn’t speak, I never interrupted them, I was never rude or sarcastic. I never gave them my advice. I just used to sit there and listen to them. And there were several nurses that I knew that actually did the job properly when I needed help. A lot didn’t, but there was a select number of people that if I had something that needed fixing up, if I needed cleaning up, all that sort of business, there was certainly people who are gonna do it properly and do it with a smile on their face and make me feel good about myself. So I fell in love with these two nurses, but I fell in love with the idea of building myself back up. First of all, to ask both of those nurses out. And secondly, was really what people had started to see me as was somebody who had lost everything, that tried anything, and no real fear of trying things, even if I failed. And my recovery, especially my physical recovery, was almost within a year or two after hospital, I almost looked like a normal person again physically. My brain took a very, very long period of time, but I noticed I’m finally doing something that people are enjoying seeing. They’re seeing me push myself. They’re seeing me try and being happy to fail. I just gotta try. And that in some way inspired other people and people started to want to be around me for that main reason. So that’s a win win thing when you’re at home, alone, working by yourself, teaching yourself how to read, teaching yourself how to write, and people are dropping around just because they feel good about themselves when they’re near you. And I wasn’t doing anything. There wasn’t anything I could do. I just sort of said this is what I’m trying and I’m having a go at this. I played out on the weekends, I played golf. It didn’t end very well but I just wanted to get back into life. And I think the accumulation of that became my reputation, and my reputation became Steve, I’ll try, I’ll have a go, and look at how well he’s doing. Look at what he’s able to do now, especially that the prognosis when I had my injury was very negative. So all of a sudden I was this miracle. I was this person doing extraordinary things. And I wasn’t really. There’s nothing strange about me apart from the fact that I’m just very persistent, very stubborn. I’ll do things until I get them right. And that just became the new me, and I never suffered any depression. I had terrible anxiety, but that anxiety wasn’t linked to depression. That was anxiety of I’m gonna fall, I’m gonna fail, what am I gonna do. That wasn’t depression like sitting at home wondering if life is worth it. I didn’t have that until later on. Then that came to me when I was nearing the age of 30, I had my accident at 21, nearing the age of 30. All my friends were married, had kids, had a job, had a career, went overseas, had great cars. I basically had just fought my way back to zero. So when I start to compare myself with what everybody else had and with what I think that I should have by this age and not having any of them, it really played on my mind. It really impacted me very badly. And on the outside, I kept up the big fight and being happy and whatever, but inside I just didn’t like my situation and kept on thinking well what can I do? What can I do? I’ve got no skills, I’ve got no job history, no one really wants to give me a job. They like my story, but that doesn’t mean they can actually give me work. So that was a situation that I found myself in when I was starting to really suffer from depression and wondering whether my fight, and I fought so hard, is it worth it? All the fighting I did, is it worth anything? It’s brought me back to zero. I’m 30 years old, I shouldn’t be at zero. And so all those thoughts start to play so I then started to unfortunately go down that road for a while.
Roxanne – Yeah for a while. How was it that you were able to pull yourself out of that mindset, or was it something that happened or a conscious decision that you made one day to switch that around?
Stephen – I didn’t realize until that stage that I had been suffering depression ever since the bullying started when I was 13. I didn’t realize that because bullying and depression was not something that anybody spoke about, especially in the 80s. So once I realized that I’d always been, the only good time I’d have in my life, the only time I’d actually really done things and had lots of friends and really enjoyed being alive was when I had the accident and my recovery from the accident. And I’m not gonna do that again. I’m not gonna go fall off another cliff just for the sake of making friends. That’s gotta be the worst, dumbest way to make friends that there is. But I just started to look. And one of the things that had really developed during that period of time was my survival instinct. And even though I felt very depressed and I’m wondering about life and there was a time I actually tried to take my own life, my desire to stay alive, my survival instinct was always greater. And sometimes waiting until the very last minute until it showed itself, but my desire, and I thought I can’t stay like this. I can’t be constantly fighting depression and is life worth it, I can’t be doing this otherwise I’m gonna do that until I’m 60, and then I’ll think well what was the point? So I started thinking about okay what are the things that I actually do know? I couldn’t get a job, I didn’t have any real skills, but I must know something. And that was the one thing that I learned in my recovery was not to focus on the things that I didn’t have, but to focus on the things that I did have. And not to focus on the things that I didn’t know or couldn’t do, but to focus on the things that I did know and that I could do. And one of the things that I had learned was that the solution may not be here, but it is somewhere if you continue to look for it. As long as you’re trying to find the solution. Like reading, for example, and writing, the way that I taught myself to do it. When I first tried, I thought how on Earth can this damaged brain learn how to do all those things again? But the more I sought for an answer and became convinced that if there is no solution, I’ll make one. I’ll create one. If something like this has never been done before, that doesn’t mean that I can’t do it. It just means that it hasn’t been done before. So I started thinking okay, how am I gonna spend the rest of my life? What can I do? And of course all the negative thinking thinks of things you can’t do, but what can I do? So I actually wrote down the things that I can do and one of the things that I can do is I can fight really hard. And I can fight hard for a long time. I’m gonna fail sometimes, but my history shows that I’ve been able to pick myself back up eventually. The other thing that was very clear to me was that along that journey of my recovery, I had helped a lot of people to get their own lives back together because I also realized that despite the fact that I worked so hard by myself for a long period of time, I’m nothing without the people that contributed to me. The two guys who saved me at the base of the cliff, the helicopter pilot and the ambos, the many surgeons, the countless nurses and therapists, my friends, my family, all of these people, especially my family, helped build the foundation that I could now learn from. I never had to worry about a roof over my head or food in my stomach or clothes on my back or love from my parents. Never had to worry about that. So I had that as a foundation. So I thought well then it’s my turn to be that. I need to be that person who can help other people, and they do like my stupid story. For some reason, people love hearing about a stupid person getting drunk and climbing a cliff and falling off. I don’t know why but they do. So I thought then what can I do? And it was at that time because my mind was always looking for it, I found somewhere that I could deliver that for the first time. And a lot of strange things happened which I’m happy to tell you about, but a lot of things happened where all of a sudden I was speaking in front of people, I was sharing my story with people, and that really did something for me because I found that I was able to really assist other people and I had a unique point of view because of what I’d been through. And people want to hear something else, and most people have either fallen off or fear a metaphorical cliff. And so the whole cliff thing, everyone goes I know what you mean, even though none of them have fallen off a cliff per se, they have had moments in their life where they thought I’m at rock bottom. I’ve lost everything, or I’m gonna lose everything, or I’m afraid of losing everything. And so that’s what I started to really work on. I started to work on how can I deliver, create and deliver something to these people that’s real, that’s honest, that’s not just superficial feel good, but is real habits. So I started to create programs that went after my presentations, and my programs lead to coaching, which has taken me all over the world. It’s just given me a life that I never could’ve imagined. If it wasn’t for falling off a cliff, I never would’ve had this life. I wouldn’t have met the woman who became my wife, I love saying that.
Roxanne – She wasn’t one of the nurses was she?
Stephen – No, no. Unfortunately the nurses didn’t love me that way. But I thought they did. I was so sure they did. They looked after me so well and cared for me and held my hand when I was crying and when I was freaking out, they would be there. I even let one of them wash my hair, which I never let anyone do because that was the only thing on my body that wasn’t damaged so no one touches my hair. But I even let one of them touch my hair. And I’ve since gotten back in touch with those two nurses after all these years, after 30 years. And then they like to hear stories about how someone that they last saw that had no chance, had no future, has all of a sudden come back to be an author, a speaker, and living a great life. So that’s great for them because that gives them this satisfaction. When we see people in hospital they’re at their worst, and we attach ourselves to them and then they go and we never see them again. With what I was able to do was to say I’m here because of you. You helped me get here. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know if I would’ve found the strength to do what I’ve done with what’s happened to me. So yeah, there you go.
Roxanne – Did you meet your wife while you were overseas or out and about or did she end up being a local?
Stephen – Because my wife’s not here, I’m gonna give you my version of the story. It’s probably different from the version she’ll tell you, but I’m gonna tell you my version. I was speaking at an event and my wife amongst other people came up to me afterward just to talk a bit about certain things and she told me that she works in a very big industry and that there’s a lot of opportunities for someone like me to speak to their staff or their customers et cetera. And by that stage, I had become a real opportunist. If there was something there, I’m going for it. With her I thought she’s quite nice, but I didn’t let me ego get into thinking oh she likes me. I just thought if she wants to catch up with me, I’ll let her catch up with me. So I think I spoke on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, I went to see her at work on Thursday, and even though I’m convinced that she asked me out for Friday night, she somehow twisted that into I asked her out. That’s where the issues are. So we went out on the Friday night and we’ve been together ever since. And that was 2005. So all of these great things have come from what that accident has done so that’s one of the things I talk about. Sometimes your worst day can become your best day, but you’ve got to be prepared to do the hard work in the middle. Things don’t just happen because you think they should or because you feel I just deserve it. I don’t believe that’s how the world works. I believe that if you want something, you’ve got to work for it. You’ve got to trial and error, you’ve got to fail and then find out what you could’ve done better in order to succeed and do that all the time. My life has been up and down, there’s no doubt about it. What you were saying at the beginning that I’m fully recovered, no one would tell. But my body knows that I’ve had these problems and I do have physical issues and that does play on my mind because my mind remembers the full ordeal. So if some part of my body starts to play up, my brain starts to react because it feels like the whole thing, it feels like everything is under siege again. It’s not just on my foot or on my back or my shoulder, it’s the whole of me has to stop and deal with this whole thing. And then I just go back into this recovery mode.
Roxanne – Alright and so talking about how you’ve progressed physically and mentally since the accident, obviously made quite remarkable recoveries across a lot of areas. Do you still find that you have some intermittent things that do pop up for you physically or mentally that you continue to struggle with?
Stephen – When I dislocated my spine, by the time they were able to fuse my spine back onto my hips, it had been quite a number of weeks. And my spine had settled in a screwed, slightly screwed around version into hips that were crooked. So fusing sort of I guess the best they could, they did a wonderful job. I don’t know what had happened. That basically meant that my body is out of kilter. I’m always sort of out of kilter. And because of the fusion that has taken place on the part of the spine that had been fused, I’ve got a lot of issues with that because that fusion is just a bone fusion. There’s no steel or nails in there or screws. But that fusion is now 30 years old. So a bone fusion that is now 30 years old, I’m now 51, and at that time is when the body starts to degenerate. Now I do a lot of physical work. I do a lot of stretching. I’ve really looked after myself and gone beyond, but that fusion area is starting to weaken, which mean that causes nerve issues throughout my feet and my legs. And I’m sure if anyone watching this understands what nerve pain is like, it’s really de habilitating. And it’s like a stab. Mine isn’t a constant gnawing thing, it’s a stab. It’s sharp. It’s a bolt of lightning that goes up your leg. And I’ve had to work really hard on never reacting to that, which is really hard when you don’t know when it’s gonna happen or not. All of a sudden I’ll feel it and I’ll just, because if I react, people get very upset. What’s happening, what’s happening. And I don’t like that. I don’t like to talk about pain. It just sets everything off. And it’s very annoying when you ask somebody how they are and they actually tell you and it takes them two hours to answer the question. So I make sure that I never do that. The pain in my feet and my legs, I’ve got a headache that I’ve had now for 30 years that doesn’t go away and I had to work my way around that. So when I work with people on a whole number of things, it’s usually still with business or life or relationships or getting to the next level of making more money, but sometimes it’s about dealing with pain. And I had to go through a period of forgiving myself for the pain I’m going to have for the rest of my life. You don’t just do that once. You’ve got to do that again and again and again almost forever. You’ve got to continue to forgive yourself for what you’ve done to yourself, and the permanently fit person you tried to destroy when you were younger. You should’ve thought about it. Well I did. And here I am right now. But it’s also understanding and accepting that that is always going to be here. In fact it’s probably going to get a little bit worse. That’s the reality. That’s not negative thinking. It’s very positive thinking because it’s very realistic thinking. Positive thinking to me isn’t denying bad things. It’s dealing with the bad things. It’s being able to say no matter what you throw at me, I’ll be able to figure my way out of it. I’ll come through it. That to me is what I define as positive thinking. So when you’re aware of that, and you think I’ve got this so, first of all, who’s controlling who? Is the pain controlling me, or am I controlling the pain? Because my problem with addictions have kept me away from anything stronger than Panadol or a good cup of coffee now for 30 years. And trust me, there are times when I just want drugs. But my body can’t deal with it because that might get me off on a whole wrong road. With depression, I know there’s a whole lot of wonderful and some not so wonderful medication for depression, but I can’t deal with that. I’ve never gone down that road. I’ve tried to figure out how can I deal with it? Because I have it forever, it’s either gonna be requiring medication or something forever, which I don’t want. Now that’s just my call. If other people think differently, more power to them. That’s just how I have dealt with my particular needs knowing my flaws and my weaknesses with feeling inducing or pain medication or anything like that. I work very much on being able to deal with those things, which sometimes separates me from the world. I have to go into my own little place to deal with these things because they’re there. That is something that a lot of people have to deal with, and it might be dealing with emotional pain, it might be dealing with a memory, it might be dealing with something that happened to them or something that didn’t happen to them. And working with people on those things, it’s acceptance and it’s forgiveness, but it’s about redefinition as well. I’ve redefined my pain as being my friend. It sounds weird, but you write your own dictionary. You don’t have to follow someone else’s dictionary, and my dictionary says that pain is my friend because I’d rather be surrounded by my friends all the time, like I am with pain, than be surrounded by my enemies. And people who go off on their pain, hey I understand it. But to me, that has never led anywhere positive. That has never led them to a better place. Dealing with this, it also reminds me of what a fool I can be if I get ahead of myself. It slows me down. It makes me stop. It makes me think, if I do this, where is this gonna take me? If I think like this, what actions are gonna follow and do I want to do those actions? Is it taking me to a place that I wanna get to? Because if it’s not, which it inadvertently isn’t, I’ve got to keep on this very narrow path in order to achieve what it is that I want to achieve, that I want to be my legacy, that I want my life to stand for. I want the fact that I fell off a cliff and that I worked tirelessly for ten years to even start getting back, I want that to be worth something. I don’t want it to be thrown away because I’ve had a moment of incapability. And that’s just me. I’m not suggesting other people would think like that, but a lot of people want some help with that. So I help them to reach that point for themselves. I help them reach the point of acceptance, forgiveness, forgiveness of other people who don’t understand. Also redefining it and deciding who controls who here. Do you control the pain, or does the pain control you? Just like your mobile phone, just like your coffee. Does that control you or do you control it? And that’s one of the things I spend a lot of time presenting and talking about it who controls you, and who doesn’t control you? And it’s all of these things. Where are you in control or where have you given that control up to somebody else because if you give the control to somebody, if you’re blaming somebody, you’re basically saying I have absolutely no power in changing it because it’s all their fault, or all their problem. So I’m waiting for them to change everything just for me. And that has never actually worked out for me. Whatever’s happened I’m responsible for what I’ve done afterwards. I fell off the cliff, okay, fine. But what am I gonna do now? What am I going to do now that I’ve fallen off a cliff and survived? What sort of life am I going to live now? And all the people who bullied me or picked on or hit me or done anything like that. Okay well that’s happened, there’s nothing I can do about it, but what sort of person does that event turn me into? And taking responsibility for that. And if I blame them, I’m saying I don’t have the power to change it, which means it controls me instead of me controlling it. So you’re going through all these things and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you just want to have a little pity party. Give me five minutes to feel sorry for myself and then I get over it. That doesn’t solve anything either. And if what you’re after is a solution, then going down the road towards that solution is what I would recommend and what I work with people on. And with there being so many changes going on in the world at the moment and so many mental health things, a lack of mental strength, a lack of mental toughness because life is so convenient, why should I be resilient when it’s all so convenient? Then when they need to be resilient, they’re wondering why they can’t be resilient. All these particular levels but my career for seven, eight years has always been people coming up to me and saying Stephen, this is our problem. This is our scenario. Or this is the change we want to make. How do we do it? And if I can assist them then I will. If I can’t, I’ll recommend somebody who can. ‘Cause anybody who looks for solutions, they’re a friend of mine. I like being with people who want solutions instead of I just believe it’ll happen, all that sort of thing. Belief is very important to a certain extent. Because you can believe anything you like, but it’s gonna come down to okay, what’re you actually gonna do? What are your actions?
Roxanne – Absolutely. And I think one thing that resonated with me and would probably with a lot of people is sometimes a lot of this boils down to self worth as well and believing that you are enough and you’re worthy of being able to take the actions that you need to achieve whatever goals that you have. And for you, obviously with having the bullying and everything you were dealing with in your personal life, feeling enough has been a journey in itself for you as well.
Stephen – When you’re bullied, what tends to happen is that you start believing that you should be bullied. That your not good enough to not be bullied. So therefore even when the bullying stops, you start bullying yourself because you think that that’s what you’re worth. And dealing with that whole thing, it took me a long time to understand that somewhere along the line, even though my parents loved me and I had a beautiful childhood and I was loved and I was cared for and had lots of friends, where did I go? How did I go from someone who believed that I was everything I needed to be to someone who believed that I just wasn’t enough for people? And that came down to I think that I started believing the lies that I was told. Now if you back a lie up with a punch, you start believing it. If you know they’re gonna tell you something and it’s gonna be followed by a hit, then it has a lot of power. But it was when I started to believe that the bullies were right that I’m trash, I’m no good, no one wants me, no one will go out with me, no one wants to hang with me, once I started to believe them, my brain said okay then if that’s what you believe, I’ll make that happen. So I started to inadvertently repel everybody and everything. And all of a sudden that was evidence. Look everyone’s running away from me. Well Steve that’s because you’re such a difficult individual. Not because you’re not enough, but because you’re making yourself be that. So when I hear people say I worry if I’m good enough, I’m gonna ask them well who are you comparing that to? Are you comparing it to who you think you should be. Maybe you have kept yourself down. You should be at a particular height or particular level that you have continued to sabotage yourself. So when you say that I’m not enough, are you talking about who you think you should be or are you talking about somebody or someone or some group who throughout your entire life has led you to believe that you’re not good enough to love and you eventually started to believe them. And it’s the belief that we need to change. We need to change the evidence because philosophically speaking, your belief system is based on your perception of the evidence. So what I work with people on is either changing evidence or changing your perception to evidence that can’t change. Instead of wanting to do all the actions and the beliefs and the thoughts and the results, that’s all great, but all that comes out of what do you actually believe with the evidence that’s given to you? And sometimes the information, especially today with fake news and agenda and everybody trying to sell you something, you’re actually receiving so much information, but how much of that is actually evidence? We hear so much that we tend to attach our belief system to it. That doesn’t make it real, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a worth while belief, especially if what they’re trying to get you to do is buy their product or buy their idea or buy their concept. So I know this is going off in a different direction, but I spent a lot of time with working with, I spend a lot of time especially with business of do you actually know how to think? Or are you just recalling what you’ve been told is the truth, or what you’ve been told is the way or format or the system, or do you actually stop and think? Do you find out what you believe in is based on evidence or propaganda or agenda. Somebody else’s agenda. A whole lot of things until people reach the point of going I just got it. Most people seem to understand once they get to that point. I believe something that has either changed or was never true to start off with and that sets up the whole new chain of events that’s got me to this point that I’m at. So I’m very much into those particular subjects because I’ve spent my life since the accident trying to figure out why am I thinking this? What do I need to think to get to a point that I want to reach? And that just seems to creep into a lot of the presentations and a lot of the workshops and a lot of the coaching that I do because it seems that to expect everyone else is on the same page, saying Stephen nothing makes sense anymore. Everything’s crazy. Well is it, or do you just not know what’s actually going on? Maybe we need to spend time helping you find out what’s actually happening rather than what you think is happening. So I’ve gone off in that direction but that’s because of what I’ve been through. There are periods that my brain since the accident, and it took probably 20 years to get to this point, but my brain all of a sudden became a super absorbent because I spent so long by myself, analyzing myself, assessing everything I did or didn’t do, why I didn’t do it, because I wanted to get better. And then when I got better I thought well now that I’m here, this isn’t my potential. I thought this was my potential, but now that I’m here, it’s not working, I can get better. I can do more. And with the speaking, as you would know from a lot of speakers, as soon as you start to speak or as soon as you start to write a book, your direction, the direction that your life will take, is unknown because different people want different things and so you go everywhere and all of a sudden you’re doing a whole lot of different presentations and a whole lot of thinking and a whole lot of different programs. When you coach people individually, everybody takes it differently. Everybody wants to discuss something different. They want to discuss something personal or a particular way that they see it, so that’s what I do now. And it drives everyone including myself insane the fact that we’re constantly thinking of 50 things at once. Previously I couldn’t think of one thing at once.
Roxanne – It’s really incredible. And so obviously you mentioned you’re doing multiple presentations now, flying all over the place, which is really incredible. What are your memories of the first time you maybe took to the stage or took up a microphone or did an interview to share your story to a wider audience for the first time?
Stephen – It was a surreal moment. Completely surreal because I found out not long before I actually spoke, when I realized the things I’d been through in my life had always stopped me speaking. Stopped me from saying what I wanted to say. Stopped me from sharing, stopped me from having relationships. From the bullying to the addiction issues to the brain injury, everything for some reason I felt like I wasn’t allowed to speak. And then when that opportunity came, all of a sudden the floor was mine, and I just had to figure out what it was that I really wanted to say. But at the same time of thinking that, I had to think yeah, but it’s not about me, it’s about them. What do they want to hear? Because I’m gonna say what they want to hear but not to a point of just being a people pleaser because I’ve never sort of really been one of those. But I don’t want it all to be about me because I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for everybody else. So if they’re giving up their time, if they’re looking at me, if they’ve given up their entire day or a couple hours to listen to me, then it better be worthy of their time. And once I start to work on those two things, I started to get a solid and continued voice in my head that made sense. Because as you would know if you’ve spoken to people with depression or whatever, it’s that thing of no one will listen to me. No one cares what I have to say. Whenever I feel something, there’s no one there who wants to hear what I think or how I feel. And that’s very debilitating. And being a speaker, I’ve now got a voice but I have to be very careful that it’s what the people in the audience are expecting from me. Even though I don’t seek to entertain you, I seek to challenge you. I seek you not where you are and think about the direction of your life and the future of your life. And I really enjoy that, and I know that that goes over well because the amount of people who have come to me after presentations, and every speaker will say the same thing. They come up to you and they tell you what they think you said. And it may not even be close to what you said, but they heard you say something else, and then the conversation is about tell me what you thought. And they start talking and they start sharing with you and eventually it comes down to what we’re just talking about. I can’t share this with anybody, or I didn’t even know that I felt like this or thought this way until you prompted certain thoughts in my mind. Until you prompted me to start thinking about these things. And that’s why I love what I do ’cause I feel like I’m actually achieving something not only for me, but more importantly for other people instead of being a tarantula in the underpants of society as I was once called by somebody.
Roxanne – You’re kidding.
Stephen – Where nothing that I did, everything made enemies. Everyone got really annoyed with how I spoke. And the tumor in my humor, the constant sarcastic, the constant putting everybody down because I felt sad then. Whereas now it’s quite different and I feel like I’m doing something now. There’s a reason for me being here. At least I’ve made a reason out of what happened to me by doing this. That’s a very standard version of my highlight reel.
Roxanne – That’s what we were after at the end of the day. And I guess, you know, having gone through you said 17 years of your work evolving, do you still get a real buzz when you get feedback from people who you’re working with one on one or who may have gone to a presentation and enacted some of these things that you’ve spoken about and seen real change in their own lives.
Stephen – Absolutely. But I’ll tell you the two things that do more for me than anything else. When someone comes up to you and says Stephen, I heard you or I did your program five years ago and look at my life now. It wasn’t that I did something to help for five years but I triggered something or I started a new thought or I gave a challenge that they hadn’t previously challenged themselves with, and they give me the long term of it. Because that’s part of what it is that I’m constantly talking about. Everybody wants something so immediately. They want immediate results. And that’s an easy sales target. That’s what all the ads say. Buy this once, you’ll get immediate results. I’ve talked a lot more about playing the long game. Are you willing to play the long game? You see, I work very much on the word willingness. Motivation is great, but motivation is an emotion, and when you’re going through ten years of daily struggle where every day you’re in pain and you know you’re gonna fail with everything you’re trying to do and you know people are gonna laugh at you, for ten years. To feel your motivation disappear, what lasts is habits. The habits of what you do in the morning. The habits of what you do when it’s tough. The things that you continually do when you’re failing but you want to get above that failure. You want to be able to reach new heights. All of those sorts of things. And working with people and myself constantly, one of my habits is if I’m thinking it, my brain is wanting to start a habit out of that sort. So I better watch what I’m thinking. I better be careful what I’m doing. I better be careful of what it is that I’m bringing to other people because they’re gonna start working on building a habit out of it. So the willingness is the biggest issue with me. You can be taught a lot of people who are really struggling but they have all the education in the world and there’s training readily available to them. But it’s not the training or the education or your emotion. To me, it’s all about the fact of are you willing? Are you willing to do it? And are you willing to do it knowing that you’re probably going to get it wrong this time, and after you do it wrong this time, are you willing to look at it and assess it and see how you can do it better, and are you willing to try again? Are you willing to question everything you’ve ever thought? Are you willing to start again if you need to? Are you willing to go back to somebody who once helped you a long time ago? It always comes back to willingness. Are you willing to do it when you know it’s gonna hurt for a long time until it starts to get better? Are you willing to play the long game? Not everybody wants to hear that, but that’s been my experience. And I can only talk from my experience. I can’t talk about theories that other people have had. Doesn’t mean their wrong. They could be right. But just from the way that I’ve experienced it, I know I’ve got this life because I’ve earned it. I’ve worked for a long period of time, failed so many times on everything, especially speech. Speech took me a decade until I could wrap my mind around actually speaking properly. It’s funny enough I just said that really badly.
Roxanne – Because you were focusing on it right?
Stephen – I’ve played the long game, and everyone behind me who was super successful at something, whether it be sport or business or making money or playing a musical instrument or whatever, they all tell me about the long game they’ve played. How they did something every day, their habit was that every particular part of every day they did this. They made sacrifices. Instead of doing that, they did that. It’s the long game, and the short, immediate thing a lot of people get stuck because they feel like they deserve. Well you deserve the right to work hard. And not everyone agrees with me on that. I’ve had a lot of arguments with people but that’s okay. You have the right to disagree with me and we can still be friends. If you want it, you earn it. If you don’t earn it, you won’t get it. If you do get it, you’ll lose it, you won’t be able to get it back again because you don’t know how you got it the first time. For me that’s the human condition and that’s the way we go.
Roxanne – Wonderful, alright. Obviously you launched your book, when did you launch your book?
Stephen – A long time ago. 2010.
Roxanne – 10, that’s it.
Stephen – There’s going to be an updated version.
Roxanne – I was going to ask you about that, yes. Why do you feel that the time is right now for a bit of a revision and an update?
Stephen – When I first wrote my book, I wrote my book in six weeks.
Roxanne – That’s pretty epic.
Stephen – That’s what I tend to do. I tend to say I’m gonna do this and I just do that until I get it. And when I wrote my book, I actually didn’t think that anybody was gonna read it. The only reason I wrote it was because I calculated about 10,000 people had asked me to write a book. Oh you should write a book about your story. Or do you have a book? If you had a book I’d buy it Stephen. Alright then. It’s embarrassing talking about all the things that I went through but I’ll write the book. There you go. So if you ask me about my story in the future, I’ll just be able to say here, read this. That was my thought. And because it was six weeks, because I had broncos league club, one of the league club teams in Brisbane, a very big leagues club, a wonderful club, a wonderful team. I had sold out that place and I hadn’t even written a word. I hadn’t figured out a title. Because that what I often do. I’ll put out this big invitation and then I’ll write it, and then I put out the big invitation all these people saying I’ll come, I’ll come. And I thought what am I gonna write? So when I wrote it, it was very fulfilling to me to actually put all of my thoughts into actual words and sentences. I remembered a lot more that I had forgotten that it wasn’t until I was writing it that my mind said ah, remember that? Remember that? Also the pain of sitting in a chair for 16, 17, 18 hours a day every day for six weeks, the pain as they say is true. Pain has memory. And I started to remember an awful lot of stuff that I knew was my pain. And all of a sudden I finished this book and I gave it to some people and the response from most people was really positive. And I thought, okay well I’ve run out of time now anyway. I’ve got to print it. So I may as well print it. And as a result, there’s a couple of typos in there, but there’s one major thing that I left out of that book, which was how I tried to take my life. I left that entire section out. And I left it out because I didn’t want to inspire someone to do it. That’s not why I wrote this book. I wrote this book and the only person I’m gonna point any fingers at is me. The only person I’m gonna make fun at is me. No one else. And then when I started thinking about that, I started to blur those lines and I thought I’m leaving it out. I don’t wanna be responsible or I don’t want someone to read it and think that’s a good idea. Therefore I didn’t include it. And then I started speaking at a lot of are you okay days, and I would share that story saying I don’t usually share this story but I’m gonna tell you. Then people would go out and buy the book. And then I’d get all these emails from people saying Steve we just attended this thing about you doing this and we bought your book and it’s not in here. Yeah that’s why I bought the book to find out about that. So I gave them those same lame excuses and I would say Stephen if people are reading your book, it means that they don’t want to do it. Your book is about survival. It’s about endurance. It’s about solution. It’s about all of those issues. So if anybody feels that way when they start reading your book, you’re gonna talk them out of it. But you gotta have that story in your book. So I thought okay, I’ll wait for a little while and I’ll add that story in which adds a lot more about the depression and mental health side, but I’ll also fix up a few typos. People don’t even notice. They don’t even notice. And if they do notice and they ask me they say did you did that on purpose Steve?
Roxanne – Just to make sure you were taking notice, yeah.
Stephen – And someone once said to me is it because you’ve had a brain injury that you purposefully misspell words? And I just went yeah. That’s right. Yeah because I’ve got a brain injury. That’s my perfect excuse for everything. If I don’t want to do work around the house oh my back is sore. I’ve got every excuse.
Roxanne – You realize this is on the record now, right?
Stephen – No one falls for it. Actually no has ever fallen for it. So I’m just gonna write an updated version but a lot more about mental health and a lot more about the things that are more topical and more necessary today than they probably were in 2010, or at least as far as I knew. I’m very aware of it now because it’s something that comes in with even when I’m working with a lot of corporations and a lot of businesses, they’re saying that. They’re talking to me about mental health, mental strength, mental toughness, mental resilience. Those are the very big areas these days and I understand why and I’ve spent a long time doing programs of the actual reality behind them instead of a lot of the stuff that’s just, to me, isn’t that meaningful. There’s a lot of stuff out there about it. There’s a lot of areas out there that trivialize mental health or trivialize your reason. And people aren’t weak, they aren’t stupid. They aren’t trivial. They aren’t flippant. There are some things apply that make people start to think of things in a very dark way, and I’ve been really interested in what are they? And so I’ve got some programs, and there’s some controversial stuff in there and there’s some challenging stuff in there, but from what I do and the people I’ve spoken to and I’ve been educated by so many people who’ve sat down and had a coaching session with me or a coaching series with me and have given me so much of themselves to what we’re talking about and shared so much with me that I’m thinking wow, I never even knew that. I didn’t expect those sorts of things. And I thought that a man or woman in your position, I didn’t think those would be a problem. It’s just something that’s a real I think the word is burden for me. ‘Cause I’ve been down that road and you just don’t wanna be going down the road. And no one wants to be depressed. No one wants to have those issues. Everyone is looking for a solution. And a lot of people are looking for a cure. I actually don’t talk about a cure. I talk about being able to manage it. Being able to manage those thoughts because your brain once it’s had that thought, it’s always there. Depression for me is only a couple of steps away. I don’t have to work really hard to be depressed. I could easily go down that road, but I’ve got to manage to keep going down the right road. And then every now and again when I slip off, I’ve got to have practices ready and I’ve got to have habits that can bring me back onto the road that I want to bring on, onto the right highway instead of the wrong one. And these are little tricks that really help me and have really helped the people I’ve worked with. But it’s not all about depression, a lot of its how am I gonna keep my business going with all this AI and all this robotics and what’re we gonna do about customer service and culture with all this sort of stuff. So a lot of it is to do with that.
Roxanne – Excellent. Sounds like it’s gonna be quite an up size for the book really isn’t it?
Stephen – I’ll make sure I’ll write it until we have a launch for it. I try and learn from my mistakes if I can.
Roxanne – There’s not many people that could say they could sellout a venue like that for their first launch, so I wouldn’t call that a mistake.
Stephen – It’s done very well and a lot of copies have been sold which has been great. And I started talking about it before and I went off on some tangent but that’s the other thing. There were two things I was saying I really enjoyed. One was when someone comes back to me after a long time of doing something with me, but the other is when I get comments from people around the world about my book. You’ve read some of those comments from the link that I sent you, but when people I don’t know email or phone me and say look Stephen I want to tell you what your book has done for me, those are things that make the whole issue, falling off a cliff, this is what it means. This is what it comes to. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have been able to assist this person, or this person would’ve found it really difficult to get through certain things. And when fathers call you and say you don’t know me but because I read your book I now understand my son and I get on well better with my son because I read your book. And I’m thinking how is that even possible? I don’t know what to say, that’s great. Fantastic. Where’d you get my book from? They say someone gave it to me from someone who bought it, or it’s usually four or five removed. So a lot of people have borrowed my book. A lot of people hand out my book, which is great. As I was told by the publisher, once you start a book Stephen, it’ll live its own life. You gotta let it go. So mistakes and all, there you go. There you have it.
Roxanne – Excellent, that’s great. What do you have lined up for yourself next year for 2019? Obviously we’re looking at 2.0 of the book, but do you have any other major projects or things you’re working for?
Stephen – Yeah and if I can share this with you Roxanne that would be wonderful. I have been working on something for a couple of years now for people who have a brain injury, be it through an accident, a TBI, a traumatic brain injury, or acquired a brain injury or stroke or whatever it may be. I’ve been working on a particular– on all the habits that I learned and that I learned after the event, but all the things that made a difference to me in trying to get the most out of a life that had almost flown away or had almost been damaged. And I found that when I was going through my recovery and I needed some assistance, there wasn’t anybody who had actually gone through it who had actually prepared something thorough that could really have helped me because I wanted to learn from someone who had actually done it. Who had a brain injury of such extent that their life was almost wiped out. But through a lot of things and a lot of different habits and a lot of failures and a lot of successes over a period of time, they came out the other side. And I wanted to find out that. And there are a lot of things available especially on social media of groups that are helping each other, but I’m still finding that the thing I’m working on is still yet to really be released. Something that also helps therapists who are helping someone with a brain injury. But if the therapist has never had a brain injury, there are a lot of things about helping their client, the person that they can’t do. I lectured at university for five years on this leadership through communication and the first thing I raise is that me being a man, I would never know the pains of childbirth. So me telling a woman it’s like pain from childbirth, they’re gonna look at me like you have no right to tell me that. But if I said I’m a gynecologist, I’ve got a PhD in obstetrics, I’ve delivered 1,000 babies, I’ve got all of this, even still, I wouldn’t know anything about the pains of childbirth. If I was a woman and I wanted to find out, I’d go to another woman who had given birth and said tell me what it’s really like. You want to get someone on the inside track who’s actually really experienced it and can understand all the failures, all of the problems you have inside your own broken brain trying to sort it out, but you can’t because your brain is broken. There is something that has affected your thinking, which gets in the way of you trying to figure things out. And if you try and express it to somebody else, you can’t express it because you’re suffering a face injury or some other problem which means that your ability to communicate is damaged. So I wanted to do something, I’ve worked out this program that’s got 121 different habits in it. Physically, mentally, emotionally, to really help people, but also something for the therapists that teach them or someone at uni to teach them about understanding what’s going on inside that person’s mind. And the third level to help people who are a family member of someone who’s had that issue.
Roxanne – So a carer, yeah.
Stephen – A carer or a family because if the mother or father has had a stroke or the son or the daughter has had a brain injury from something, that changes the entire family. That changes the entire future of their family. That changes the dreams that they all had. There’s so many pinball type of effects. So many ripple effects that come from this one thing where it’s not just the individual, but everyone around them, their life changes. And I just wanted to be able to supply them with something and then do the same things with people that have got depression and people that are struggling with mental health. Because those are things that I do understand to some extent and I’m always asked what I think about certain things and I present them and I talk about them and run my programs and over the years, 100,000 people have come up and said Steve what would you do about this one thing? And to write that down and to well there’s something else that I can give and even though I might not have actually experienced it, even the conversation helps. So that’s my big project for next year is releasing that and writing a series of books and free videos for people who struggle with that and can get help online for free from someone who’s been through it and has come out the other side. But some people, some brain injuries, they can’t get to the other side, in which you might be able to help their family. So just trying to be of value I think Roxanne, trying to be of value and of worth. Saying this event has led to something that helps other people, and that’s really important to me.
Roxanne – Absolutely. Wow that’s gonna be an epic year for you I hear. You’re gonna help so many more people through those, that’s amazing.
Stephen – There are lots of people around the world who feel exactly the same way and are doing their best and I see what they’re doing and that inspires me to do something. And I’m certainly not alone. I’m certainly not special. There’s so many people trying to do something that’s bettering humanity because a lot of people feel as I do that humanity is under attack at the moment. And so we’re just doing something about it, and that’s all that you need to do. Just do something about it.
Roxanne – Absolutely. I think that’s the perfect ending. You’ve done that well.
Stephen – And look at what you’re doing, Roxanne. You’re doing something. You’re doing this, you’re interviewing people like me. I’ve seen some of the other people, some of the incredible stories. You’re doing that to put that out there, to say hey, who else would like to find out about these particular things from these people who have been through hardships? So you’re doing exactly the same in a slightly different way.
Roxanne – Thank you.
Stephen – So congratulations for your doing as well.
Roxanne – Thank you, that’s really lovely. I wasn’t expecting that.
Stephen – There you go, there you go. You’re doing something great as well, and I know that it’s difficult to get going and to get momentum, but if you keep doing it and you keep sending things out there, it will increase the chance of it happening. So you just continue putting more out there because you might only change the life of one person, and that’s worth it. It’s all for one person. When you’re speaking, there’s just one person in that room. Even if there’s 5,000 people or 20 people in that room. It’s just one person who might need to hear something from you that makes all the difference, and that’s what it’s all about.
Roxanne – Absolutely. Well thank you so, so much for all of your time. We’ve actually had you for a fair bit today so I appreciate your time.
Stephen – Wow, just wait until I send you an invoice.
Roxanne – That wasn’t in the contract.
Stephen – I assume you’re paying for this. Yeah right. My pleasure, thank you so much for asking me.
Roxanne – Not a problem at all. And for all of you that have been watching and listening in, I will have links below to Stephen’s website if you want to reach out and get in touch.
Stephen – Just to let you know, that’s the other thing. There’s gonna be a new website soon because the website at the moment is out of date and has not been updated for a while. So there will be a new one that comes out soon. But if you contact me, I’ll send you the links.
Roxanne – Perfect, there you go. You heard it from the man himself.
Stephen – Yeah you have.
Roxanne – And so excellent. And make sure that you sit tight. We’ll let you know when the 2019 revised version of Bouncing Back When You Hit Rock Bottom is out and about to buy. Also if you wanted to keep following us, I believe actually Stephen you have rounded up season one of the Phoenix Phenomenon so you are our very last speaker for this year. So anyone who wants to watch back we’ll have them all up on YouTube and can reach them through my website. Also like and subscribe so that when season two hits, you’re ready to go as well for our next batch of amazing, inspirational speakers. So thank you so much, and thank you again Stephen.
Stephen – My pleasure, thank you.