Leon Stensholm is the happiest man alive, but the internationally successful bodybuilder, trainer, motivational speaker, counselor, suicide prevention advocate, gym owner and author has had a rough road to reach this state of being. Leon was prompted to create his book, It’s How You Think, following a spate of personal loss and tragedy. He lost a brother to suicide, a client took their own life a few years later and when Leon returned from the funeral, found out another client had died by suicide. A third client overdosed eight times in a couple of months after this. All of this compounded and began to affect Leon’s own mental health. Leon’s book walks readers through how to overcome adversity and provides amazing tools to guide you to live your best life. His gym, Body By Leon, has become a beacon for people battling with mental illness and anxiety and he continues to work passionately towards creating a society that actively seeks to improve the mental health of citizens. To buy a copy of Leon’s book, head to https://bodybyleon.com.au/product/its-how-you-think/ Watch the video above or continue reading for the full interview transcription below.
Roxanne – Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Phoenix Phenomenon. I’m your host ghostwriter Roxanne McCarney O’Kane. And this show is all about uncovering the journeys that authors go on to create the amazing books that you know and love. So today I have with me Leon Stensholm. So welcome Leon.
Leon – Thank you so much Roxy for having me, really appreciate it.
Roxanne – Not a problem at all. So I’ll do the obligatory bio if you’re happy to stand by for a second.
Leon – Yes, yes.
Roxanne – Excellent. So Leon started natural bodybuilding in 2001 after suffering a number of injuries that would end his promising soccer career at the time. Leon has since made multiple Australian and Australasia title wins to his name and has competed over 65 times, coached hundreds of clients with over 100 first places and multiple pro cards awarded. Leon is a coach, counselor, author, speaker and gym owner, he’s running the full gamut there. As you’ll hear more today about, from the man himself. Leon was sped to action following the loss of a number of people close to him in his life, and has established Body By Leon Coaching and Personal Training, which has a private gym specifically for people with mental illness and anxiety. And his book which we’re here to talk about as well today, is called “It’s How You Think.” And it shares a lot of his personal journey as well as helping to up uplift readers with positivity as well. So I hope I did you some justice there Leon, you had a lot of-
Leon – Everyone says I’ve got a really like big head. I think you’ve just made it bigger Roxy. Thank you so much that’s how much respect I have. That was very well said, thank you.
Roxanne – Excellent-
Leon – Very humbled.
Roxanne – So I’d love, so that we don’t keep our viewers and listeners on edge too long. I’d love for you to share a little bit about, “It’s How You Think” and obviously the background that led you to writing the piece.
Leon – Yeah, it’s funny because I always, Roxy I was actually a super quiet kid, shy kid and my academic levels of skill were very poor. My writing skills were actually very, very subpar, even up until my heyday months ago. I never really put too many sentences together. And it’s funny how and I just through a new idea to write a book and I was getting some coaching at the time and when they already got thrown up there I’m like, “Dude, I don’t even speak that, well I can’t even write him a letter, write a book.” And he goes, “Leon you have a luck at a crazy story.” And I thought about it for a second I’m like, well, actually yeah it is a crazy story. So yeah okay, well I’ll think about it. And I thought about it for 59 seconds and I rang him back and said might all mean I’m gonna do this thing. So all of a sudden they know I just started, I just went straight home and just started writing. And I don’t know where all this stuff come from. And I never knew that I had all this stuff in my mind, but over the course of the last, I lost a brother to suicide say eight years ago. And then a couple of years after that unfortunately I lost a very, very close client to suicide. And then I’d come home from their funeral and then the very next day I lost a very, very another close client as well through suicide as well and that locked me. And then straight after that I was helping another individual that was a close friend of mine that was suicidal as well. She just got out of intensive care for a number of suicide attempts. And so I just thought, well I can’t have another friend take their life, this is taking its toll. So actually almost spent six months, almost living with this lady to prevent her, she lived on her own, prevent her from taking her life. She had four young kids, et cetera so. I just got really caught up in just, I just gotta stop this suicide epidemic. I call it an epidemic because it seemed like that at the moment and that was just around me and obviously everyone else has experienced so much trauma through suicide as well. So they might ask this has gotta change. And I’ve been talking about it for the last couple of years. But since those three, four incidences, I just took everything Roxy to another level and I just, now I just live and breathe and to the point where I actually realized that there is no gyms, there’s no facilities where people can train, exercise and just be themselves Roxy. So what I found that I thought if I could build a gym that it’s a big gym here that I have here. And it’s only one-on-one, it’s not open to the public. People come here and they say, “This is amazing facility, where’s the members?” There’s no members right. They’re like, “Well, how do you make a living out of it?” I said I just work goddamn hard to make it happen but it’s not about that, for me it’s never been about money. It’s not my loss, I’ve never been around that. It’s about what’s in there. So I deal with this gym just based on a one-on-one with individuals. And it’s amazing what they told me, ’cause this is how I learned everything about what people really need and what people really want and what people really need to hear. So people started opening up and telling me, that was suicidal, that in a gym there’s a busy environment, there’s people around Roxy. So people actually wouldn’t open up, but the facility here that’s when people started opening up and that’s when I found out within myself, the suicide rate and the suicidal thoughts of people were now decreasing ’cause of the time I put into people. So then I realize that I had to invest more time into people, so this carried on then I just started attracting more people that were suicidal. And then all of a sudden they started suicidal and high anxiety. And then I would do the psychology, I’d work on the psychology of them. And then I would train them up. The next minute then they go out on stages and they’re doing body building shows, fitness shows, bikini shows and they wouldn’t just on stage, they were actually I was actually giving them a purpose and a goal. And I would go on to be state champions, Australian champions, world champions, Olympic champions, I’m just, this is amazing. This is amazing what you can do when you get into somebody’s mind and you believe in them. And that’s what I found Roxy that all these people wanted was someone to connect to and go, “You know what, this guy believes in me.” And then I just thought, this is a remarkable story. Then I’ll just throw it all in a book. And then I just couldn’t stop writing. And I literally, there was about 50 pages that didn’t get in the book that I would have liked to go in the book. The story just didn’t roll from it but that’s why I’ve gone on to book number two which is actually almost completely different. But that’s where it all come about, the story is crazy. And the stories that I do have it almost seems like its, is this guy telling the truth, you know what I mean? ‘Cause I have very story and I couldn’t go into depth in some of the stories in the book because of the welfare of the individual as well so in some. So that’s where it all sorta come from, crazy.
Roxanne – Yeah, absolutely. And I know that you are obviously a very positive person, you’ve got a very excellent outlook on all aspects of life.
Leon – Thank you.
Roxanne – But I did wanna ask you after going through all of that loss and living with this your female friend to help her through that period of time, like that was kind of, all kind of bang, bang, bang lined up for you. What sort of a personal toll did that take on you so much devastation?
Leon – Yeah, massive, I look, I guess at the time when I was just running on adrenaline and running on so much enthusiasm in the way that I’ve just got to keep going and then when my brother passed and then when another client passed, another client passed, I’m just going I don’t have time to sit down and thinking about this or dwell on it, I need to now help the next person because there was no stop. There was no grieving time because people just sort of kept coming. And I just thought, well I just gotta keep going. I don’t have an option. Everyone around me is crumbling. So sometimes the leader has to stand up. So I did keep going Roxy and I thought I was invincible at this point of time, okay. So it’ll take its toll, absolutely. And I had never actually told anyone this until I actually wrote the book. And unfortunately I had to give the book to my parents to read it before it actually got out. And I said, “Look you’re gonna love the book but you might not like what’s happening on page, X page because there’s something in there that I’ve never disclosed to anyone.” So just quickly, yes it took its toll and it broke me. It did break me to the point where yeah oh I did take off and I’d gone down the coast and had some terrible thoughts in my mind. I just, everyone was just falling apart around me when I just kept going and I felt like I had no help from anywhere. There didn’t seem to be that. And that wasn’t the case. There are a lot of amazing people doing amazing work. I just hadn’t had the connections. Which today I do have the connection. So back then always I had just had my one way blinkers on thinking I can do this myself, I can do this. It wasn’t a lot of help, but this day obviously has changed. So, but yeah it took its toll to the point where it pushed me to suicidal thoughts as well. And its the only time in my life that I’d ever been driven that far. But yeah, it did take its toll. So what I have learned Roxy from that obviously, gratitude and self care and that’s what I’m building now for people to understand that there are ways that you can manage, what I’m doing now today, I’m still doing exactly the same thing. And unfortunately I have had close people pass away, but my resilience is higher, I’ve just learned. I learned the hard way by throwing myself in the deep end. So yes I broke, do I break today? I’m very hard to break today. Only because I’ve spent as good part of six years working on myself, no one can step into my role and expect to take all this on and not be traumatized. You are going to be. I just did it because my heart just said, “Leon this is what you have to do, this your purpose now.” So yeah, I’ve just had to spend so, so many years really working on it. And that’s what I advise a lot of people as well. I speak so often of views I have about the self-care and things that I do. And I often get people that’ll say, “Leon it’s easy for you, you don’t get how I’m feeling.” And I completely understand that some people might have depression and stuff like that. And now I completely understand. So I’m not the doctor, I’m not the psychiatrist, but all I can give someone is the tools that I’ve learned. And if they implement them daily with whatever other medication or treatment they’re getting on the side, then they can manage life as well. So, you can only help someone, you can’t help someone, you should help yourself first. So many people wanna do this role but the only ones that can really get into this role, these are the ones that really invest their time into themselves first and then to help others.
Roxanne – Yeah, absolutely. And you were just lashing out when you were talking before about the success stories that you’ve had. So well, there’s obviously an element of loss still in the role that you do. To see so many people go on to thrive and like you said, it’s not just physical fitness, it’s giving them a purpose, it’s fully changing the direction of their life. That must really, really light you up all the time.
Leon – And what it does and I guess I do. I get very excited when I talk about the success that has come of it. Now it’s a great highlight realm. But again what people don’t see in the background is I’ve got to manage what goes on behind the scenes, it’s not pretty, there’s endless therapy. There’s, my phone’s going all night, trying to keep people alive and trying to get them hang on for five hours, I’ll see you in X amount of hours. There’s also working with individuals that you see once a week and all of a sudden they wanna see you twice. So you see them twice and then third time, you seen them for free, then the fourth time you see them for free, then you’re seeing them six times a week. They wanna see you seven times a week for free. Then literally you run out of time in the day just to help people, so you give a little bit and sometimes some people just want it a bit more that’s what breaks me. Is that you give and then people gets taken. So they’re the parts that people don’t see, no one talks about. I’m very open, I’m not a closed book. As a fact is that people are only gonna change if they’re aware of what’s going on. So they’re the parts that break me. So you had amazing relationships with people, but it can change at the click of a finger because like people rely on you so much. So there’s a really dark side to my job that I don’t like talk about, people don’t see. It’s not all the highlight real me standing there on top of the podium with a client that’s won the Olympia. It is far from that, it’s endless Roxy. It’s a 24/7 gig, you don’t do this Monday to Friday, nine to five at all. There’s Friday nights, Saturday evenings, you can’t go anywhere without having to manage someone. And, but I wouldn’t change it at all.
Roxanne – Absolutely, no I don’t think that you would.
Leon – Not at all. But like I said I get tired. I do get tired, I do get run down. That is why I talk about, I mentioned earlier it’s essential that I do sit back when I can see the signs coming and keep my mind in a state or day that I’m ready to fire. So I don’t get annoyed at someone that sent me a message that might need my help at the time because that can happen often or I can’t just ignore a message.
Roxanne – Yeah.
Leon – I mean it is no time to do that. So yeah, pressure’s on me to stay at a high peach state basically all day every day. But its a good challenge and I love it.
Roxanne – Awesome, now speaking of challenges, I’ll bring you back to the book just temporarily. You mentioned as soon as you decided you were going to write it literally like the words just fell out of you. But it sounds like and let me know if you’re comfortable with even going there where obviously some elements there you touched on, where you were pouring your heart out and sharing some things that you had kept close to your chest for some time. I’d love to find out a bit more about sort of, yeah how going on the book writing journey did maybe flick on some other switches or helped you to have some other realizations about your life’s journey?
Leon – Yeah, look I guess yeah I’ve been asked that one or few times, it’s such a great question. And for me it was probably the only time I’d ever done therapy. Because I had all this stuff in my mind. And once I put it on paper, well sometimes it can be, well it can bring up old wounds as well. But for me it just, it brought up some great memories as well. And it brought up all my triumphs. It brought up things that, wow I’d actually forgotten about that when it happened, my, about constructions and two broken ankles and stuff like that. And here I am still playing soccer 20 years later. And it brought up a lot of amazing things. So I just kept looking at the positive side of it. I didn’t really see it and then go “Well this , yeah this was a sad moment yeah. Look, I acknowledged everything. It was important, Roxy that I acknowledged it and just keep, I get every positive out of it, whether someone might have passed whilst that was a sad moment, I’d turn it around and go, yeah, but I also spent two years with this individual and I traveled around Australia with them and we’d get amazing shows and we had so many laughs. And Gina was a lovely person. I’m gonna bless, the fact that I even met that person. So whilst it was great to write, it did bring up a lot of old wounds, but I just had to keep switching it around and just kept thinking about the great times. And I literally, Roxy I could put my hand on my heart and go to bed to go, you know what, I did everything that I thought was possible at the time with the resources that I had. I have gotten a bit more resources today. And so if I could turn back the clock, yes when I was riding and go, only I knew, had the wisdom now that I may have had three, four years ago I may have been able to change. But you and I know that’s not gonna fix a problem. That’s not gonna help, that’s not gonna help me. It’s not gonna help them, it’s not gonna change anything. But what I do do is go, you know what? I’m going to learn from what happened with, happened with Angel or happened with Vane? And I didn’t do that at the time. And I put my hand up and go, yes I take some responsibility ’cause I’m a human being, I love taking responsibility for my actions, I can do that. Because that’s how I’m gonna learn and not make that same mistake again. I don’t push it aside, I didn’t push anything aside and said, “Oh, but they did it, it wasn’t my fault.” Well, you just don’t go there. You just go, a wonderful thing. If I could have done this at that specific time I would have done that, however I didn’t. But what I’ll ensure that next time I use these tools that I didn’t use back then. So I’m trying to switch every positive around, is it easy? No, it’s not easy. By the brain I’ve learned, I’ve understand it learns on repetition. You do something over and over and over again, it then becomes automatic. Its like talking on a podcast or talking to people or talking about anything, for me you do it so often it just becomes automatic and you just get a little bit better at it. So you just learn it for me it’s just, it’s all learning. There’s no manual how to save someone that’s gone through suicidal thoughts. There’s things you can do, but there’s no real manual to teach you young kids also on what to do. So for me I like to teach everyone the mistakes that I’ve made. And I think that’s very important as well. I’ve made many mistakes, I did a lot of things wrong. But I’ve learned from that and they’re the greatest tools that I can give to someone else because I had to learn the hard way what it feels like to maybe think you did all you did at the time, but there was definitely more things that I could’ve done.
Roxanne – Absolutely. And I think even sharing the experience that you went through is enough to flick on some life switches for other people as well. Like we, every little bit of information and connection with people always help, so.
Leon – It’s true and like I said I wouldn’t change my life for anything, look it’s, there’s many people I’ve had a lot more passion watched them myself, but the, what I’ve learned today for me it’s priceless. I’ve studied a lot, I do a lot of reading. I self educate a lot and I learned X amount but you learn most of it in the field, in the real world. And there’s suicide letters that I have. That they just, honestly Roxy to read them, they just break your heart like you just read them and you just wanna break down and you just go, oh these people, they are just hurting. They don’t not want to be here. They don’t wanna take their life. They don’t wanna feel this way, Roxy. All they wanna do is be happy. And they just can’t get there, its just super sad to even read it. And, but again, that’s just from reading and getting straight from the horse’s mouth. This is what we need Leon, thank you. And if I’m, and always be open and honest and at times I haven’t given them what they need and I just haven’t, but I need to learn because they tell me straight out, so okay cool now this, I wasn’t doing this and I didn’t, obviously didn’t do that years ago. So it’s all just a big learning curve and I’m gonna just continue to learn more as the time goes on.
Roxanne – Absolutely, absolutely. And I have been curious to ask you, what was your parents’ reaction to the X page story that you pointed out for them? And, because I know, and with working with a lot of people as a ghostwriter, a lot of their top concerns revolve around what are my parents or what are my family gonna think about some of these things that I wanna share. So yeah, you don’t have to get too specific ’cause obviously we want people to read the book but-
Leon – Yeah.
Roxanne – But yeah, what was it like for you to kind of navigate that particular huddle with your book?
Leon – I think mum rang me straight away and she goes, “How could you feel that way? Like you’re always happy. I wouldn’t imagine you could feel that way.” And I said mum well like I guess that’s lesson number one, isn’t it? You never really know what someone’s going through. And it’s very important, and look people can ask me, “Leon, how you?” Am fantastic. And I’m just like the next person, I’m gonna just say that. But at the time, what I’ve learned now is that you could tell that I wasn’t fantastic. It wasn’t hard to understand that I wasn’t fantastic. My tone, my persona, I was tired, I hadn’t slept. I was a little bit moody, a little bit short with people. So what I’ve learned today is that you can, you can help someone if you actually, if you’re more, your observation skills improve and your work on them, you’ll understand why someone’s turned their voice, the way that I walked, their eye contacts, their body language, their physiology, that how someone’s actually going. So I told mom, “Mom I’ve been crumbling for three months.” I said I was around everyone no one picked up. I said , so what that taught me was, no one around me has any physiology identification skills of individuals, so I need to teach people that now.
Roxanne – Yeah.
Leon – So yeah, she was devastated and shocked. And it hurt her really bad to be honest because she’s still grieving to this day with losing a son, my brother. And dad was just, “You’re an idiot, like please, how could you even think like that please come to me next time.” And I said, “Yeah look, sorry dad it was look, it was a moment of madness. And that’s the scary thing, is that even though the bravest, the toughest, the strongest can be vulnerable for a minute.
Roxanne – Yeah absolutely.
Leon – And that was me, I was vulnerable for a minute. You know what I mean? And nearly was a very costly minute. So good thing I, just happy that things didn’t go that way. But yeah it’s even a touchy subject for me to chat about as you could probably tell, like it’s never been me and for me to actually even think about that after my parents have just gone through something similar. Yeah I was a little bit disappointed in myself but I never, for a very short time I realized that I have to move on from this, you know what I mean? It’s, most humans at some point that probably had some sort of thoughts there and there, and I just gotta ensure that I learned from that and I make sure that I never get in that predicament again, by ensuring that I’m working on myself and if things aren’t going well go seek help guys, don’t be afraid to go speak to a psychologist or counselor, psychologists, whatever is your challenge, a friend, somebody, you know what I mean? But now to this day I understand a lot about self care and just simple walks, I love surfing. All these things are just amazing for my soul and my head. So I’ve learned that might take me in a peach state more often than not, I’m not gonna say every single day we’re all human, we all wake up tired, I wake up tired too. Roxy, might sound like I’m not sometimes but I do get tired and I am a human being and I do .
Roxanne – Absolutely.
Leon – I don’t just break as long.
Roxanne – Okay, oh that’s yeah, that’s good.
Leon – Because I’d use all the tools that I have. So we’re all gonna break it depends how long you’re gonna be down for. And that’s pretty important that people understand and that’s when I talk about self-care gratitude et cetera. Doing these things, the sad thing about them is people are doomed because they don’t see any instant gratification Roxy, they don’t see a hundred dollar note there. Well I’ve just done that one, this is my time it’s valuable. There’s nothing that comes of it. So that’s what I found is so important that people gotta do that because it actually puts you in a prime state for when slightly throws your curve balls like that.
Roxanne – Obviously the book, your book has been out for a while now. And it would go into the hands of a lot of people who needed to hear its messages. What’s it been like for you to see the life that this book has taken on and how it’s been able to reach and help the people you were hoping to connect with?
Leon – Yeah it’s funny because when I first wrote it I was very uncomfortable. Not in the writing process I felt pretty cool about writing it, ’cause I actually liked what I wrote, but I felt very uncomfortable when it went in the hands of other people. One ’cause at that point in time, I wasn’t really on it. I didn’t focus on telling a story. I didn’t focus on telling my story that wasn’t my objective. My objective has always just been to just, spend time into everyone else, if whatever’s required to people to keep them alive. So I was never interested in voicing my opinion or writing a book for any fame or to be a millionaire. It was more, I just felt very uncomfortable if I be very blatantly honest. And because I’d come from a background of, just being a tradesman, then I’d got into just being a trainer. And then its kind of like being an accidental hero Roxy. I never meant to be into this position. So for me I always remain very humble. I have a very humble upbringing as well. So for me I just, the book was solely just to, was always for myself and to try to help whatever people I can. And then it just actually broke up pretty well and people thought it was amazing and the story was really great. So yes, till this day I feel uncomfortable, until today, until about three months ago when I’d just go, “You know what, no that was it.” But I’ve got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages sitting in my head ready to go for something else. And so for may I just go, you know what this was my starting point it’s a great story and there’s a great education there, but now I’m gonna take it to a whole nother level, just on the psychology side of what I’ve learned with how can I actually now truly save people? There were words of wisdom in there. There was tools that people can use tomorrow, today. There’s stories of resilience, how to overcome adversity. So there’s great stuff in there that someone can utilize now, especially going through the hard times, we’re all going through now. But now moving on now, it’s gonna take it through just to a whole nother level. So for me “It’s How You Think” is just great stepping stone and I’m proud of it and the response from it has been like a hundred percent, I haven’t had any negative comments. I would say it’s changed a lot of people’s lives.
Roxanne – I think passion is a core ingredient too. Like if you’re driven by passion and you know that this is going to, make a difference in even one person’s life, that’s, I find that’s one of the best motivators there is.
Leon – I think you know that, I think that’s just the key word I just love it and I always stay passionate. And it always had this saying where I say when you can’t fake passion for someone one day someone’s gonna come along and have passion gonna make you look like an idiot. And I always say that to people, say something you can’t fake, you can’t walk into my role. I can’t fight what I do. If people meet me they realize that you’re exactly the same. You can be on the radio, Facebook or video, they may be persons, just exactly the same person. Because you’re just as enthusiastic whether you’re talking to someone on zoom or whether it’s maybe face to face. Yeah, passion is for me the number one thing because if you haven’t got that you’re always gonna be missing something and your message will come across maybe unauthentic. But when you’re passionate about it, it just naturally comes across and people believe you. I think that’s, in my role it’s for me to connect with people and help people. I’ve gotta have them trust me and have that connection that comes from my being being authentic and being passionate about what you do. Truly passionate, not just throwing the word out there. its easy I’m passionate about this. Don’t I think you learn passion honestly two years down the track? And then I don’t think it’s something that you can’t just be 21 years old and go I’m passionate about this. No you’ve gotta really live and breathe and experienced so many things. And then you’re all of a sudden you’ve done a hundred things and you just go, this is just what I do. It just comes naturally and it gives me my purpose of waking up.
Roxanne – Yeah absolutely, that’s amazing. And I know that you you’ve already said money and, making money out of a book was never a driver for you but I would like to ask you, has it helped helped you in your business side of things as well? Has it helped to connect you with more people who do need your help?
Leon – Oh look absolutely. Yeah I definitely would say yes. And everywhere you go you’re carrying the book with you. It’s almost like your business card and yeah look absolutely and the connections have made is incredible, like it’s amazing that years ago, most of my friends would be tradesmen and they still are to this day. And the boys we drink with down the pub with, and a big friends of mine are orphans. Just regular people but what I’ve learned is that, they’ve all got an amazing story. And so my connections in life have just gone another level. And that excites me just knowing that I’m around people that they’re actually, lots of people like me.
Roxanne – And you mentioned before you might like to give a few little tips perhaps on our call today about yeah whether, how people can get to fix their or how people can maybe pump themselves up every morning to have a better day.
Leon – Yeah sure, I guess what we were talking about just before our fair that we just stopped is that, not gonna walking into, I don’t just work or walk straight into here or get out of bed and just go on a sit down, I’m just gonna do this zoom chat now. Otherwise I’d be just yeah, hi, . You know what I mean? Everything I do and it could be going into work and it could be going to the shops. It could be going for a surf. It could be, get ready for training. It could be doing the zoom chat, phone chat, whatever it is. I’m priming myself or I’ll just sit out there and play a song that’ll just come to my mind, and people think am nuts and I’m like well try it man it’s amazing. I’m just getting it in my mind. I’m just getting my endorphins flowing naturally. That’s I’m doing, like the feeling you get when you exercise but I’m getting that 10 times a day. And all I’m doing is getting myself in a peak state play music it sits right next to me. I could just drop, make it tough for one minute. You know what I mean? Again, as people think am a bit what way but I might just find a line, a line that comes out of that, that just goes, “I love that, I love that.” Now I got something to chat about and everything rolls on from there and getting yourself in a peak state, everyone’s different. It depends on what everyone wants and what I do is not what everyone else is gonna do. Somebody could be just be walking in the morning and could be waking up, watching the sunrise, it could be watching the sunset. It could be watching the stars at night time. It could we just go for a walk, walking the dog, hanging with the dog, playing music listening to music, singing, all these things, they make us happy. So the keys to find all these things that make you happy, and I remember six months ago I think I’ve just jinxed the clientele, because what I said was, I said look, a lot of them, all they know is the gym. And I leave and they agree with their friends and they’re like, “I think that’s fantastic.” And they got a lot of connections here, but what I said, I said look you need hobbies outside the gym because the gym one day is not gonna be there. “Yeah don’t worry its gonna be there.” And now all of a sudden the gym is gone and I’m like woops, I didn’t ask for that, all right. But anyway, it is what it is. But now half of them, what do I do now? Wow, you can actually go spend time with your family. Remember that people have family around you. And remember that daughter and the son that you got that you might not spend all that time with. Take them down the park, go take the soccer ball, go take the Frisbee, remember the Frisbee. Go get a tennis ball, throw ball with a dog, walk as a family, you know what I mean? Will there be you’re social distancing of course, but there’s all these things that you can do that make you happy. And when you get in the happy obviously you’re in a big, happier state. This is what leads your day and write in gratitude in the morning. I cannot just write down three, four, five things that am grateful for. Grateful is a word that people throw out there, but by the end of the day if you are truly grateful in your heart and I mean truly grateful that you are, the chances of you having depression and high anxiety is slim, it’s actually lowered. So it’s a scientifically proven that being grateful yeah has effects on it that you actually can be in a way better state than someone else, that you almost can overcome depression. So it’s almost like a natural antidepressant. And that’s just what science says. That’s why, just writing down simple things. I’m not talking about write down about a car or a house then this item, I’m not talking about them cosmetic things, materialistic things, I’m talking about I’d come in the morning and I’d walk in and just go “Oh my God the sun was amazing this morning or here’s this nice cool breeze, we haven’t got this humidity and now this feels beautiful, it’s lovely.” Or it could be the dog come and sat on your lap and oh this is cool. Or your daughter come and gave you a beautiful kiss in the morning that she hadn’t done all week and you go, “well that’s a great plan, I’m gonna write that down.” And just the very, very simple things because it actually does change your brain waves and your mind and like I said, the brain works repetition. So once you give it something great, guess what? It wants something else again. And I always say you gotta watch out what you tell your brain too ’cause I said it learns repetition. If you keep telling yourself you’re no good, you’re not worthy, guess what your brain thinks? It starts believing you. If you start giving it more positivity and all these great things it wants more. So the next day guess what, you give it more. Then after the repetition, after doing it 10 times, your mind just wakes up the morning all of a sudden, just switch straight into that positivity. That’s how it actually works and that’s actually proven to work. These things do work but most people are not doing them. Because they do and they’ll go, “Well it’s not working.” Well it’s not mate, you’ve gotta put your heart into when you do it too. You can’t just go “I’ll do my best I’m just going to write things down.” You can’t just do that. You’ve actually got to sit there and I’ll smile when I do it. I gotta sit there and I’ll smile and I’ll write down, I’m grateful for my wife, my daughter, my dog. I’m grateful for my team, I’m grateful for my studio. I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak to Roxy today. Little things like this, it’s amazing. And when you do it, it’s hard to not smile. Because these are all things that make you happy. And just doing these simple things and they are life simple am simple, I’m the most simple guy you’ll ever meet. I don’t complex, I can talk very scientific, I can talk highly intelligent. But that’s not gonna help my audience that has depression or suicidal thoughts. They wanna, I need to keep things simple. So for me to able to get up, get a whole manual or oral book and digest the whole thing into very simple methods. That’s what I do. And that’s why a lot of people would like the stuff that I might write or might put out on social media, ’cause it is very simple. Because simple works. But simple is almost too simple for people so they don’t wanna do it. Any great footy team out there, any great sporting team, I guarantee they got the, watch their style of play to be simple, just don’t make mistakes. So don’t get fancy, just don’t make mistakes. A game of tennis, whoever has the least unforced error is probably gonna win. Yeah, may you just get in a rally, that’s it. So that’s, I run life like that and it’s so powerful. I think people gotta understand that just simplify your life, it doesn’t have to be over complicated and just be consistent, be more consistent and simplify things and just persist, and it would go a long way.
Roxanne – Absolutely, now that’s wonderful. And the whole time you’ve been talking, I’m thinking it’s how you think, it’s how you think, you nailed that book title, didn’t you?
Leon – That’s the whole book there, every event that happened I could sit in the moment okay, or I could actually turn it around and look about and go, okay well its gonna be how I think, it’s gonna be, well I can look at it this way or look at it this way. If I look at it this way, is this gonna help me? No, well I look at it that way. Yeah I mean if you have a little car accident and unfortunately someone hits you and everyone’s okay and you get out of the vehicle and you can do one or two things. You get out and yell and scream and carry on. And you go, is that gonna help you? No, you can get out and ask them how they are first and you exchange details and move forward from it. That’s probably gonna be the better approach. So obviously with tool that always ask questions first. Before you, anything that happens, is me behave in this way, is it gonna benefit me? No, don’t do it, pretty logical. Then that’s how I like to work and in any scenario, and if you actually use that and think before you speak and ask yourself the questions, it’s amazing you’ll answer it and you realize, “Okay I won’t do that. I won’t pounce, I won’t comment on this on social media. I’ll think before I speak and my comment here, am I gonna benefit from this comment?” No, don’t do it. How I like to roll as well. It’s pretty important that people understand that ask yourself questions first before you do something.
Roxanne – Yeah absolutely, now I love that. That’s a great takeaway for everyone today. Thank you Leon.
Leon – My pleasure, there’s so much stuff I can chat about, I could go for ours and hours, you know what I mean? So I’m just tryna simplify everything, get as much as I can in the time that we have.
Roxanne – Absolutely, now I appreciate that. That’s awesome. And obviously we’ve mentioned in passing book number two you’ve got book number two in your mind already. Have you made a start on it yet or is that still?
Leon – I went full guns blazing now. I’ve, I’ll be three three-quarters through. Yeah three quarters through so yeah. Again, I don’t know where on earth all this stuff come from. I just started writing whatnot and all of a sudden I just went write, write, write, write. And then I’d go probably three, four days I’ll be blank. Then all of a sudden I’ll walk out of church someone wants to say something and I’d run home and start writing. I love that, I love that saying and then I’ll just roll three pages from it. So it gonna be a little bit different, this one’s so not so much a book from start to finish. This one is actually a gratitude journal but with all the education throughout. So it’s not just gonna be about writing what you’d grateful for. The stuff that’s gonna be put in there, is stuff that not one part of it was ever released in the first book. So this is all completely new just stuff that I put them on a bit on social media at the moment. And I’ve had a lot of people read it just to get critic on it and everything was coming back, “Wow, where did you come up with that?” I dunno, it was obviously there, it’s just that you don’t know what you don’t know and sometimes you don’t know until you actually start having people ask me questions. I love that question, I’m gonna go answer it. And that’s when I’ll go and answer it. And again, it’s amazing what you learn from yourself when you actually, as you know been a writer yourself, there’s so much information stored in there. And it’ll only come out when someone ask the question. A lot of the time again, we know way more than we know. And when the mind’s in a nice, clear peak state. Like peak state everything’s just there ready to go so, yeah so obviously and again I’ve got one purpose or one goal from it, is to save more lives. That’s purely the only reason this thing’s getting written and I believe this is, I love the first one but this one I’m really, I’m actually really excited, before I was excited semi now this am like oh my God, this is like next level for me. So yeah its pretty exciting.
Roxanne – It’s like palpable.
Leon – Yeah it is, yeah so that’s keeping me busy at the moment while my gym shut down and obviously I’m at homes so it’s keeping me real busy and just crazy things that come into my mind. So its been, yeah the timing sort of been perfect for me in a way.
Roxanne – Yeah absolutely and it’s really interesting to see how different your process is this time around as well. Like it’s, I don’t know if I can use the word organic, but it feels like it’s much more, like you said you’ve got the prompt and then off you go, like I already know this let’s go.
Leon – Yeah, it’s funny I said that actually, well the first time I wrote it I didn’t actually known you back then. When I first got the idea would have been two years ago and also I hired a ghostwriter. So I actually hired a ghostwriter that was used locally in my area. I thought that would be easiest for him to catch up. And at this point she would actually the whole book was all my words. I didn’t want her to change any words, but I just we would have chats and keep record stuff and she’d be typing as I’d be talking. And then she’d send me 10 pages then I’ll have to re-edit 10 pages then you go back and that’s sort of how we went. Whereas this one was always such a poor typer. The first time I was still writing I was still handwriting stuff. Now I’m actually doing all the writing by myself. So I’m putting the pen to paper or typing I could say, the whole thing myself. So I just obviously learned skills from that and be more confident now that I can actually do it. So yes, the process is different, the first time I couldn’t have done it without my ghostwriter and she was amazing. But this time now, yeah I can almost by myself and just go on confident that I can actually write the whole thing. And then, may I’ve just got like a, I don’t need a writer for it or an editor that’s more a designer, is it a journal this graphic designs and . My mind is not that imaginative. It doesn’t do that, design is not my forte. So I’m not afraid to go outside my realms and get someone to help for the part that I don’t know. So obviously I’ve got a professional here. her name is from I’d call it from she is so far amazing, she’s doing her part. And then Jennifer Swaine and also she’s gonna do a little bit with my editing because I’m gonna be as well. Just yeah it’s just really different, but I’ve taken a little bit of writing myself this time. And yeah, and it’s just, it’s gone pretty cool. Yeah.
Roxanne – It’s so much like you can feel the anticipation of holding it in your hands for the first time-
Leon – It is, and I think it’s going to be a little bit off. Yeah, but again we got all this time, we sort of set four or five month goals. So we’re gonna push the boundary and I’ll worked really hard. Where as the last one took six, probably nine months. But it was written in about three. But things, people’s privacy access stuff like that we had to keep changing things around. So it took so long to put the whole thing together and as you know, writing it to get things to flow it’s not always that easy, but that’s where you guys are amazing at I’m not. I’m not good at the fly side of it. That’s where the editors, you guys are fantastic at.
Roxanne – Yeah, everyone has their strengths so nice, so yeah.
Leon – That’s exactly it so it’s, and I think it’s important if you’re gonna put something together you wanna be proud of, you know what I mean? Like as I’m doing a lot of stuff now than before, but there’s still people that I need to actually do the bits and pieces to ensure it’s gonna be what I’m after at the end, so.
Roxanne – Yeah, excellent. And so having obviously walked the journey to becoming an author before and now embarking on the journey again, what would be maybe a top tip of yours to people who are maybe still sitting on the fence and they’re still in the inspiring author category. They haven’t actually taken the leap yet.
Leon – Yeah interesting, I think one is everyone has a story. I believe everyone has a story and I think it’s just a matter of who wants to share it and the power of a story as we know is incredible. And I think when, I’ve encouraged quite a few clients of mine that I’ve been counseling, et cetera, that have phenomenal stories, and they are just amazing people. And I just tell them it was amazing debrief for myself to actually write a book as well. So I’m thinking from there’s so much in their mind, and it gives them a purpose as well. And I just say look you don’t have to write the book to be a millionaire, you’re writing the book for the sheer fact that one there’s nothing better than saying that you think you’re not worthy. You got no self esteem, no self belief. And all of a sudden you’ve written a book. Well, you have all of the above now.
Roxanne – Yes.
Leon – I think it’s just the most amazing thing that you can do. And it’s fun and it’s gonna keep you busy for a good six months, so there’s a good purpose there it goes to lock people in. I said after I write the first one I’m not writing another one. Because I was running my gym and I was flat steak and I was studying Counseling, my Diploma at the same time. And I was writing at the same time and my God what I doing? And, but anyway, I said, I always said if I can get through this, my nickname is I go am taking that status. But actually it’s like if I can get through all this and sure enough I’ve got it but what I’m getting to is, it taught me what I’m capable of. So I think that’s a good point that people don’t understand that don’t sit back and don’t think about it. Just get, you wanna write a book, write a book. Any anyone can write a book, you don’t have to be an author. Like you don’t have to be academically brilliant, all you’re gotta do is have a good story and, but work with someone again like yourself. Roxy, I always advise even in my field, you wanna get a good result hire a coach. If you wanna write a good book, have a good ghostwriter have a good editor and that’s key. You just can’t do it without it, you know what I mean? And that’s my opinion ’cause they’re gotta have, they’re professionals, utilize the professional, not us, we’re the amateurs. We have the story, but we need you guys to be able to put the whole book together and make it actually look like a book that flows. So there’s so many aspects, so yeah invest your money. And the end of dialogue I say, money doesn’t rule my life, my heart runs my life. If I was still focused on money my whole life, I would not be here nor would I be talking the way I’m talking now, knowing my purpose. Feel like this my passion wouldn’t be the same because I’d be driven with the dollar sign. And people read right through that. And you can’t, you just can’t give that same empathy to people or through your book or through your story if you’re not actually doing it for the right reasons. So you’ve got to, if you wanna write you’ve gotta write for the right reasons as well, that’s pretty important. You really gotta wanna do it all the way. Once you start, it’s a long journey. A lot of people stop and just don’t get through to it. Yeah I mean life’s busy, you know what I mean? They just may not get the time, they’ve got kids and that’s understandable too so. I guess there’s no timeframe to write a book, is there?
Roxanne – I’ve run the full gamut with the clients that I’ve worked with. Like I’ve had some that have come to me fresh off the bat, going off got on an idea let’s go. I’ve had client come to and go on, “Look I started a chapter I’ve got one chapter and I wrote it 10 years ago, I need the rest of the book.” Yeah. Unreal but yeah it’s an amazing journey. And again I said I wouldn’t write the second one but you know, six months later, I literally I’m loving it again. I think I was just burnt out at the time. Like actually burnt out, completely burnt out just run myself completely in the ground. So, but now you’re freshly going again and yeah it’s just enjoyable. And it gives me something to do when I don’t have anything to do. So it keeps me out of trouble. I think it’s a great thing to, you can even say that you’re writing a book, especially if you’re a professional and you go do speaking gigs or you go to a lot of corporate events. And once you’re known as you’re an author you have a book. Let’s be realistic, you’re gonna get some, a little bit more credibility, that’s just how I look at it. And if I get introduced as doing a speaking gig or you’re an author, you’re a counselor, you work with, in the mental health world. So there’s a lot of things you do. You raise your mind, desk book’s a little bit better than if I didn’t have it. So that, and then if you’re a author well all of a sudden just goes up another notch in that as well. So you build confidence because of that. And I think that’s important when you’re talking to people, meeting people, you wanna help people. And the more that you achieve, the more confident you get. And I always say that with people, people go “Leon how can I be happy?” You gotta have progression period. Progression equals happiness. So all of a sudden, if you’re not progressing in life, then you’re static, you’re not going anywhere. Have a look to see how happy you. I can assure you you’re not gonna be peak happy. human beings aren’t built that way. The more that we achieve, the more we learn that, the more progress we make, the happy we are. It’s just simple as that. That’s why I’ve gone into number two. Would there be number three? At the moment I’ll say no, but of course there will be number three. just how it is.
Roxanne – And the C-word, confident is a great one for authors, but also another of my favorite C-words in connection to a book is connection as well. And you mentioned you’re getting up on the stage and sharing your message, but you build that extra layer of connection when you’ve got your books at the back. And then at the end you’re at the back and you’re signing and you’re meeting people that your message has really resonated with as well.
Leon – It’s so it’s so powerful, it is. And you know what it’s, and so I had to go back to your probably original question. I encourage everyone that’s got the drive and if they’re sitting on the fence, just do it. Stop thinking, I always tell people like more action, stop thinking, think less. I don’t think, I literally, my mind is look I think about a lot of things but I think less action more. I make a lot of mistakes, I’ll look at my gym here, there’s stuff everywhere and there’s so much stuff and so much memories here and there’s some stuff I’ll look at, “Why did I do that? “Why on earth did I build that? or why did I have that picture taken? Or why do I build these ? Why did I do that?” And it’s because I just, I get you, I don’t to know what’s gonna work. You don’t know what’s gonna work and what’s not gonna work. And to me it’s irrelevant, I’m just going through this and you’ll do a podcast then they don’t like it? Yeah, it wasn’t my greatest one, but anyway I did it anyway. I’m not gonna sit there, “Oh should I, are people gonna like it?” I don’t know. And that’s the biggest thing I think that hold back people, can be held back with books and like hope, “Well what if no one buys it.” Well no one buys so what you wrote a book, but you’re still an author. Learn not to worry about the response of how it’s gonna work and do it for the right reasons like I mentioned earlier, I think that’s the key method as well. If you do it for the right reasons, you’re just doing, you’ll be proud of it either way.
Roxanne – Excellent, now that’s perfect. Thank you so much Leon.
Leon – My pleasure.
Roxanne – Just before we leave everyone, I’d love for you to share how people can get their hands on a copy of “It’s How You Think” and also to connect with you, if you’ll, if they’ll resonated with your message today.
Leon – Yeah you can find me everywhere. Primarily Facebook is my, just my name Leon Stensholm I’m very active on there, I actually spend a lot of time talking to anyone and everyone and it could be, all the times I put posts out and I’ll always get a good response and I’ll getting inbox messages and I’ll reply to everything. I reply to about 300 messages a day. So no one please ever think that “I don’t wanna annoy him ’cause he’s busy this time.” We’re all busy, I’m not busy than anyone else. I just love what I do, so I’m gonna reply to every single message. And if I can’t help them, I know someone that can help them. But that’s it, there’s also the website as well just all the W’s bodybyleon. I’m pretty active on there as well. So there’s an email link on there, you can buy the book on there. There’s anything and everything on there as well. So, and you can find me pretty easily but Facebook primarily I live on all day. Just because that’s where most of my content goes and I’ll chat on messenger all day ’cause I think it’s a good tool that Facebook messenger because emails you don’t always know if people got your messages. But we had messenger, you can actually see. And I just like to respond and so if anyone has any issues, any questions any thoughts, any suicidal thoughts, mental illness and they need some help, please reach out, because again I’d like to feel that I’m approachable person and again I’ll wear my heart on my sleeve. And if I can’t help someone directly I know would know someone that can help them as well.
Roxanne – Yeah, perfect. All right, thank you so much for your time today, Leon. It was a real pleasure to chat with you.
Leon – Thank you so much, I really appreciate it Roxy. Thank you so much, I feel very grateful to be here.
Roxanne – Thank you.