Last time I checked in with you, I was heading down to Bognor Regis for a family trip to Butlins. This post will fill you in on my experience there. However, as swimming was a big part of the trip, I’ve opened it up a little broader. Enjoy!

Kasia and I set off 2 Monday mornings ago, packed for 4 nights and were excited like kids! With my manual hoist, shower chair and sunglasses in the car; I sped off with my thumb operated accelerator and handlebar steering to the south coast. I had been to the same Butlins as a teenager, but couldn’t remember much, and am physically weaker now. I’m always therefore a little nervous of the facilities on such a trip.

On arrival we were greeted by friendly staff who guided us to the right room. After checking in over at the main tent, it was helpful having a family crew of 10 to assist us with all my gear. We have managed alone, but its tiring. Plus my 2 nieces even helped out!

The room caused a bit of a stir. We all paid £200 each for rooms, breakfast and dinner, plus entertainment etc. Having an adapted room meant being away from the others, but in relative luxury. The others literally had a room and loo. We had a room, huge accessible shower, lounge with tv and kitchen with everything you need. Sometimes its good to be disabled 😉

With all my equipment there, a good accessible room and my family too; it was time to have fun. The first day was best weather wise. I enjoyed giving my eldest niece a wheelchair ride along the beach front and chasing the youngest from causing trouble. They are 6 and almost 2. Unfortunately the weather tailed off, and so we just chilled within the complex, swam, ate and chatted the other days. In the evenings we saw a Katy Perry and Jessie J act, plus the Jacksons and the famous redcoats of Butlins.

All of the complex was wheelchair accessible, with lifts, toilets and helpful staff. Depending on your disability, you can access some of the fairground rides too.

So, swimming. I used to swim loads as a child. I learnt to swim without armbands aged 4 in Florida, I was in the local newspaper with the prime ministers wife for a charity swim I did, and generally thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I had my spinal fusion surgery in 2000 and lost the ability to swim for a long time. A couple of years back I started going again, found it more stressful, but healthy and fulfilling.

It had been a while since I had last swum, when we were in Butlins. I had the luxury of all my familys support, including 3 strong blokes in the crew. Having sussed out the situation with the staff, I was happy to go for it. Planning ahead, I had my swim shorts on under my trousers already. Once undressed, I was lifted onto their pool chair and rolled to the water, whilst having my head held. The chair rolled into the sloped pool floor, so access was easy. I was held during the crazy wave machine, but managed to bob about with a float otherwise. Afterwards I was placed back on the chair, used the accessible shower with the help of mum, kasia, my sister in law and niece (I know, I’m high maintenance!) and was lifted onto a slightly uncomfortable changing bench. Once dried and dressed I was lifted back to the safety of my wheelchair!

Enlightened by the exercise, healthy action and fun; I wanted to go again. Being in Cambridge this week, I researched local pools on the Internet, read up on access and phoned about. In the end I was surprised how many could cater for me. I ended up going to Chesterton sports centre last night. This was awesome! They had a hoist to get me from my chair, to the pool chair, to the changing bed and so on. The pool hoist was great, the lifeguards were super helpful, PAs goes free,  and the changing bed was soft, wide and water proof for showering. More importantly I enjoyed the swim, felt shattered after (in an unusual way) and feel great today.

If you have a disability and feel worried about swimming; I urge you to give it a go! If you already swim, I’d love to hear from you on your experiences good and bad.

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Hola Amigos. Quick ‘update on life’ article here:

The articles about my Vodafone award, accessible tourism presenter role, accessible marketing in tourism toolkit, and activism in Poland project are on their way still, I promise!

Otherwise life has been ticking along.

– I’m trying to get my health in check with newer foods and seeking physio support. Being sat down all day does take its toll physically. Do you find this a problem too?

– My car had another glitch, where the ramp wouldn’t open and close. Fortunately Andys Kars in Bar Hill, Cambridge sorted it. He said my car is one of the most travelled Motability cars!

– Workwise, I’ve been catching up with our Disability Horizons partners, planning our 2 year anniversary summit and continuing my consultancy for Lero in Tenerife.

The reason I’m quickly writing a catch up post is I’m off tomorrow for an amazing family week away. We are off to Butlins in Bognor Regis! 🙂 It’s even more exciting as it’s the first time in years the whole family is going away together – that’s my mum, step dad, sister, 2 step brothers, beautiful nieces, and other halves.

Follow me on Twitter (@martynsibley) for any live updates, lol. I’m hoping to go swimming there, so wish me luck and I’ll check in again soon 🙂

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Welcome to a new chapter of my life! It is hardly a shocker to hear as I have been banging on about this for a few weeks. However, today is officially Independence Day! The 4th of July 2011 is the day I begin working full time on changing the world for disabled people and their families. It is also the day I begin life without a regular salary. Let me just talk you through how I am feeling, my plans for this new era and how I need you guys to work with me.

My last day at Scope felt quite emotional. Whilst the decision is right for me now, 5 years is a long time to have a routine, meet amazing people and be part of a great organisation. My manager did a lovely speech, I awkwardly managed a few words, I had a card signed by everyone, some cool presents (concert vouchers, kindle voucher, Alan Sugars book, road tripping USA guide and a globe), and then we ate cake. Straight afterwards I had a meeting for the magazine www.disabilityhorizons.com (more on this great progress another time), attended Arcade Fire in concert Thursday (video coming soon) and my leaving drinks were Friday.

All in all it was a tiring, nostalgic, nice and weary week. Now I am getting my mind over the sad elements, and focused on the future. This future is to work full time on new media projects to shake things up positively for disabled people!

My plans work in 2 areas:

  • to empower disabled people (especially the younger generation) to be more aspirational, and with the right information to achieve their goals.
  • meanwhile, I want to show society that disabled people can and do achieve if we all assist in removing the many everyday barriers in the way.

Online conversations – I will spend more time online engaging and understanding disability issues. By learning from disabled people around the world what their hopes/dreams are and the reasons they may not pursue them, I will create solutions to overcome this. Furthermore with my co-editor Srin we plan to achieve online learning and support through www.disabilityhorizons.com by allowing others to write and share their own experiences too.

The following explanation of my new website pages will assist you in seeing this more clearly.

Blog – where I will continue to share my life experiences and pass on useful information.

About – for a new visitor to understand me, my life, why I want to support other disabled people, my media work and my ‘SunnierDays’ projects.

Philosophy – in every article, video, seminar and project I have a philosophy underpinning it. The 3 parts are to understand your limits, know your goals and the barriers stopping you reaching them, and then grabbing life!

The tribe – I am not wanting, aiming or able to improve life for disabled people alone. It takes lots of individuals to better themselves, to support each other, demand positive change and collectively work towards an improved world for all. Subscribe to the blog and join the tribe, its going to be a cool journey 🙂

Online learning – to read about and sign up for the latest Apps, seminars and future projects please head here.

Give me a shout – to feedback your thoughts, ideas and questions click here. In a multimedia world there are a few channels to contact me on. I can also be booked here for speaking engagements.

The second part of my plans are with ‘SunnierDays’, which is my social enterprise.

Aim one is to pay the mortgage and eat some food next month. However I hope SunnierDays can work with society to remove the barriers blocking some disabled people from living the dream.

To begin with I am packaging up my professional and personal experiences into a series of seminars. With one hour on a range of relevant topics, the seminars are delivered online and free to you (backed by companies, charities or Local Authorities). They are accessible in so many ways (with no need for transport, zero expenditure and beamed into your home). Then, using real life examples and useful tips around education, employment, travel and independent living, the attendee leaves with specified learning outcomes.

Having honed certain skills to find innovative solutions for disabled people through new media, I am keen to share this knowledge. I will achieve this by working with:

  • Organisations setup for disabled people – I will work for a specific period of time to understand an organisation and their service users’ vision, aims and challenges. I will then recommend new media projects that can make a bigger impact for their service users. From growing memberships, increasing the number of ‘active’ service users, creating an online community and upskilling staff, I will leave the organisation with inspiring and useful changes.
  • Everyday organisations – whether in leisure, travel, entertainment and so forth, every business has a disabled customer base. Partnership work will find solutions for a better customer experience with improved customer services. An example would be the use of an i-pad to show a disabled customer a video tour of an area in a museum they cannot otherwise access.

Beyond my new found profession, I have a few personal goals to share on Independence Day. These include:

  • Finding a good work routine – to work sensible hours and find some cool cafes with wireless internet
  • Networking – I hope to meet other workshifters (remote workers) in London and when travelling
  • Productive working – even with an additional 35 hours in my life now, working for myself will never be a 9-5. However I hope to get my energy levels up and more quality time back with friends
  • Exercise – now I have flexible working hours I plan to do more physio, regular swimming and other beneficial exercise
  • Campaigns – beginning with twit polls, we are going to tackle the big issues that bother you. To get your creative juices flowing, how about one day where we take photos of inaccessible locations, hashtag the twitpics and collate a website of the shots? We could call it #nochairsgo?
  • Travel – you all know my love for travel! Once the business is running, I hope to travel, work from my laptop and meet interesting people. I would love to interview disabled people around the world for my blog or a tv documentary. To show my difficulties in accessing South America, Asia and Africa, set against the lack of everyday provision for disabled people who live there would be amazingly insightful.

Watch this space guys! I hope you feel energised and ready to change the world! I am off to blog for the Institute of Fundraising National Convention. What a cool start to a new chapter…

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During my time as Hackney council’s Personalisation ambassador I delivered talks about my social care package. It was to show disabled people, professionals and local councillors in the borough the merits and difficulties of Direct Payments and Personal Budgets. I laid out the assessment process, defining your needs, creating outcomes, using the money and other resources to reach those outcomes and all other information in-between.

A particular part of the story I felt important to tell was around well-being. On reviewing my outcomes last spring I decided upon 1) maintaining the level of care I had to continue living a fulfilled life 2) to find an outlet for exercise, as since the age of 18 this provision falls off a cliff for disabled people 3) to go on an ‘adventure holiday’! I have written an article for Disability Now on social care and you may want to attend an online seminar around this matter soon. I have also blogged about the trip to California. However part 2 is to be explored here.

I had always loved swimming as a child. In Florida, aged 4, I took of my arm bands for the first time. My swimming technique was certainly different. I was very buoyant, in a vertical position, no leg movement and a kind of bobbing up and down with arms propelling me forwards. I swam for the British Heart Foundation, when Norma Major (the then Prime Ministers wife) helped me out of the pool for Anglia tv cameras. Yes it had a glint of brave disabled boy, but it was an achievement too. I raised a good amount of money and won a trophy for my efforts too. Also my mum is a swimming teacher and so my love of water comes from her.

Please see this old photo for a giggle http://www.flickr.com/photos/martyn_sibley/4177058416/in/set-72157622856332857

As touched upon, physio, swimming and general assistance with physical health drops off the metaphorical cliff. I used to swim at school with ample assistance in getting changed etc. As well as provision dipping, I also had major surgery aged 15 for a scoliosis (curvature) of my spine. This meant being in hospital for a month, after having 2 titanium rods and multiple screws on my spine. Not pleasant! Being laid up and careful for so long, I lost the ability to swim.

Fast forward 11 years and I mentioned swimming to my social worker, as per number 2 above. I expected access to a pool to be minimal, far away, costly and basically impossible to do around my office job. In just asking, I found out there was a pool around the corner from my flat that ran a disability swimming hour after work on a Tuesday. Amazing! Better still, there were people to assist my PA, hoists to left me, a bed to change on, and the floor of the pool raised up. ‘What’ you ask? Yes, the floor on one half of the pool raises up, the water flows through it and you wheel onto it in a shower chair. Then as the floor lowers down again, you are in the water and the chair is removed.

The first time I got in my PA had to support me the whole time. I was flipping and flopping around with no balance. Then I managed to gain some balance with a spaghetti float. However this meant my hands weren’t free. Then we used these armbands that looked ridiculous but kept me afloat, I could move my arms and not drown. For some weeks I bobbed around this way.

In Cyprus and a few other Hackney swimming sessions I took the armbands off but couldn’t quite balance or stay afloat. Finally a couple of weeks ago a golden moment occurred. I managed to float, balance and move slightly without any assistance. Every current took effort to fight against and every breath threatened to remove my buoyancy. Nonetheless I carried on regardless and swam around for a good few minutes.

I was absolutely shattered afterwards. My body hadn’t moved independently in years. Muscles that hadn’t been stimulated were asked to do their bit. The realisation and achievement of the situation came later. I had actually swum unaided for the first time in over 10 years since my operation! If I hadn’t just asked my social worker what I thought to be impossible, it wouldn’t have happened. I would urge you to do the same. Whether swimming, exercise related or other, just look into something you want to do but think it to be too hard – I bet you’ll be surprised, happy and proud of the outcome further down the line. I definitely was!

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I have to admit I sometimes stun myself by what I do in a week, but this update takes the biscuit! As the previous 2 posts show in video format, I attended the disability rights ‘Hardest Hit’ march last Wednesday, along with over 5000 other people. I am not going to write too much on this because the video says it all. If you have any questions on the march and the proposed government cuts, do email me on martyn@martynsibley.com.

Then the bold move towards a new frontier and a new beginning… Last Thursday I took the decision to leave Scope after nearly 5 years. It was a tough decision and was not taken lightly. However for my career, health and leisure time it is the right decision.

Career – I have always wanted to run my own company. I am an entrepreneur at heart (even though you should never label yourself as one). Since I started my blog I have a deeper understanding of what disabled people require in 2011 (and beyond my own personal experiences). Therefore I dream to combine the two and plan to push on with my online social media projects, within my social enterprise ‘Sunnier Days’. My aims are to:

  • grow my blog and create more online discussions with disabled people
  • grow the magazine www.disabilityhorizons.com
  • collaborate with charities and local authorities with my online seminars – presently on self directed care, travel and accessing local leisure
  • create other online resources that empower disabled people through information and inspiration
  • become a spokesperson for disabled people
  • undertake ad hoc training and consultancy around disability issues (especially around online provision) for – government, local government, charities, business, DPOs and other relevant bodies
  • uncover how it is to be disabled around the world (more on this to come)

It is also likely I will be working with a start-up company as their Chief Operating Officer. Fancy title hey! I can’t say too much for now, but this project looks very very exciting too.

Health – despite Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) not being degenerative, there can be and is often a weakening in adulthood. SMA, for those who do not know, is a genetic disability. The anterior horn cell at the top of the spine is damaged and means the messages essentially do not pass from the brain through to stimulate the muscles. So whilst I have full feeling my muscles are not worked and therefore atrophy.

In the past couple of years, with tough winters (through chest infections and the cold effecting my movement), working full time and living the London life – I have definitely weakened. With running my own business I can fit in more swimming and physio by picking and choosing my hours. Scope have been great, but it is office based 9-5. The flexibility I will gain means I can slow down if my body says to, and hopefully grab a little more sunny warmth in the winter, while still working.

I am all about the positives and what I can do. However I do have a severe disability, there is a lot I have to factor into one functioning day (hoists, care, maintenance of wheelchair, car and other additional incidentals), and with not getting any younger it was time to make a positive health decision too.

I hope this part does show people life isn’t always easy, simple or plain lucky for me. I have had to overcome many barriers at school, uni, learning to drive, seeing friends and travelling. I do it through positivity, tenacity and the will to enjoy life. Things that everyone reading this can do. Point being I am enjoying life a lot, but I work bloody hard on all fronts to reap that pleasure.

Leisure – with full-time work and slightly deteriorating health, my leisure time (especially in winter) is the first to suffer. I know that while I won’t have the banter and camaraderie of the office, I will have better health and energy after a working day to see friends and grab a movie. Something I fear would diminish on the course I have been travelling lately.

With all of the above, despite the risks of leaving the enjoyable, comfortable and regularly paid role at Scope, I think you can see why I am taking a slight leap of faith. I know if things do not work out I will feel glad I tried and find a solution thereafter. Watch this space and wish me luck!

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You know it gets tougher to write new, innovative, non-repetitive and funky blogs. I guess when you have a routine of work, and (unfortunately) cannot travel every week, this is unavoidable. On the flip side, with random events, news articles and the variety we have in the world; the task is not impossible either. So I turn to the personal, the political and the possible…

On a personal level, I need to mention an ailment (this is for you Lena!). Off the back of my first reggae concert and indeed big night out since winter, I felt rubbish last week! I ambled into Thursday with a cold  when I had to take a train to Wakefield for an inspiring work meeting. That night, my second of the ex Austrians, Lena, visited for the weekend. With a delayed flight I collected her from the airport around midnight. Fortunately my semi cold subsided Friday morning to allow a really nice few days with the Viennese vixen. With food and wine Friday in the flat, a visit from Billy for his birthday Saturday in Camden and a drive around the sights of London Sunday night – it was a good weekend.

The reason I mention blog topics and ailments is Lena pointed out my propensity to mention on martynsibley.com when I feel tired and unwell. I know I do this to share my winter worries and how some days are a struggle. Despite my positivity, it wouldn’t be honest of me to not share my limitations, difficulties and concerns. She also noted my arms looked tighter and a bit weaker. This is something that comes with the SMA territory, does play on my mind and is something I debate how to lessen. However I appreciated the fact I sometimes worry/stress myself into feeling under par and can do more to maintain my physical well being. Honestly, I really appreciated this observation.

Therefore while winter will always be hard and my SMA may cause me to get a little weaker, I have a current aim. Which is to not dwell on illness/tiredness and begin my swimming and stretches again. With the clocks having gone forward, spring in the air and good times coming – there is no time like the present. Plus it is easier for me to swim in warmer temperatures and my muscles loosen up in the heat too.

Having had a kind of personal epiphany and a ‘new season’ resolution, I turn to the political. For those who wondered about my views on last weeks budget (I know, it has been a while, but I was out Saturday night in the Jazz Café and my hangover last longer now) and for those who didn’t see my live tweets for Scope. My executive summary would be that the budget was surprisingly better than expected. However it was off the back of some hard and harsh cuts last November, which are hitting disabled people particularly hard.

My view is we need cuts to reduce the deficit and inject confidence back into our economy. We should expect those better placed to bear the brunt of this. Disabled people need to know their standard of living will not decrease over and above the already challenging situation of inflation, unemployment and cuts, just because of their additional needs. I really hope the government will not make disabled people scape goats alongside alleged ‘fraudsters’ and ‘benefit scroungers’. With this said and done, last weeks budget seeks to gain business and economic growth. If disabled people are included and supported appropriately with this agenda, I will be happy. Lets just hope the plans to kick start the economy are fully inclusive.

Lastly, the possible! I have some interesting opportunities this week around the blog work I do. There may be the chance to work on some other social media projects, there is a relaunch of ‘seminar in your slippers’ (my online seminars around managing care packages and for wheelchair travel), the launch of mine and a friends online magazine, and even a disability app!!! Stay posted for more information on this.

Coming up, I am seeing my good mate Rich from uni at the weekend. Then Rico, the German lad, is over next weekend. All before I head to Cyprus for a week in mid April. With spring here, more exercise, enjoyable projects at Scope and new blog related activities, I am very excited about the coming months…

Toby is one of my good mates. We met through the JTSMA charity I have mentioned numerous times, which is for our condition. He did a talk when I was 16 inspiring me that university was possible. During my tough move to London he assisted and encouraged me the whole time. He is an all round top guy. Now in his late twenties, he has always lead an active and fulfilling life.  But he almost didn’t live to fulfil many of his life’s ambitions as he was struck by critical illness and spent three months in a coma and on life support.  Here’s his personal story.

As Project Manager for the BBC I work on Future Media and Technology and Chair BBC Ability (disabled staff forum).  I am Assistant Producer for Champions Club Community and Personal Performance Coach having trained with the Coaching Academy.  I’ve enjoyed successful careers as Engagement Leader for Cerner in the worlds largest healthcare IT programme and Consultant at Accenture for global Communications and High Tech clients.  I also worked for British Airways as an Account Executive and LloydsTSB as young as 15.

I went to the University of Derby and achieved a 2:1 in a Marketing Management degree and got Distinction in an Advanced GNVQ in Business after school. I moved to London to pursue my career aspirations, own my own apartment in Fulham and have a team of live in Personal Care Assistants (PA) 24/7.

I’ve always strived to be a high achiever and leave a legacy.  March 2010 was no exception – focused on my BBC career, building my coaching portfolio, chairing a national disability charity (JTSMA), producing a pilot for a new business entertainment TV show and more.   Christmas 2009 was ‘planning time’, to decide what I wanted to achieve in 2010.  So I produced a Mind Map outlining my goals.  I lived by Stephen Covey’s principal of Begin with the End in Mind.

Whilst proceeding with vigour I developed a chest infection, which is common during winter.  However, after my second course of antibiotics I became dehydrated from vomiting and stupefied.  I went to A&E, had X-Rays and blood tests and the doctor admits me with a severe chest infection.  One morning I’m found having a seizure and fighting for air.  The doctors and nurses rushed to my bed and brought me around again.  My chest infection got worse and I was suffocating and couldn’t breathe.   I went into a coma and was put on life support to keep me alive – I lay in intensive care unconscious for two months.

I developed multiple organ failure – my kidneys, liver and stomach stopped working and I was on dialysis. An MRI scan revealed a bleed on my brain.  A nasal gastric (NG) tube fed me nutrients and I had a tracheotomy in my neck.  I had thirty tubes, bags and bottles connected to my body in all.

a hospital bed in a generic ward
Hospital bed

My Mum who had practically moved to London to be at my bedside went away a weekend break, however, soon after, the doctor summoned her, as they didn’t think I’d make it through the night. In spite of this, I stabilised and two months passed before I woke from my coma.  As I opened my eyes I was really confused.  I thought I was 100 years old, that the BBC had fired me and the physios were out to kill me.  At first I couldn’t talk.  I used my eyebrows to say Yes (raising them) or No (a frown).

I asked the doctor whether I almost died and he honestly replied “yes, you almost did and you’re lucky to be alive”.

My whole world had shattered.  Not a lot made sense.  I didn’t care that my hair was falling out from the medication. As I was just out of my coma one of my PAs handed in her notice and I was angry at her ‘bad timing’.  I began poaching the nurses and one of them introduced me to her niece who I interviewed in ICU and offered her the job. When I first sat in my wheelchair, my arms were so weak I just drove in circles.  My first time outside ICU was to the tropical fish tank with a tranche of nurses, tubes and equipment.  I stared mesmerised at the fish.  I realised at this moment that what I appreciated in life had shifted if fish spellbound me.

An OT visited daily to exercise my arms and hands to get them working again.  I couldn’t hold a pen or operate my iPhone.   To this day I still can’t feed myself or drive my adapted vehicle.  As soon as I had a Fluoroscopy to see whether I had the strength to swallow food my Speech Therapist and Dietician put me onto a puree diet.  The first food I eat in over two months was pureed salmon and broccoli and mashed potato.  I chuckled that the chef had shaped the pureed salmon into the shape of a fish. No matter how much physio and suctioning I had I just couldn’t clear my chest.  I was exhausted, depressed and desperate to go home.  When I eventually left hospital I recuperated in Somerset.

I wanted to get back to ‘normal’ rather too quickly and so I arranged a phased return to work.  I installed speech recognition software on my laptop and Access to Work funding for transport.  Returning to work gave me structure and some purpose again.  However, I struggled physically and emotionally.  But I stuck at it. Although I’m missing three months of 2010, this whole experience has had a profound impact on my life.  Inspired by coaching, I’m writing a seminar and book to help others learn from my insights.  Here’s a sample:

Fear

I faced the ultimate fear – Death!  Things I once feared feel less significant.  My mantra is “well, [this or that] isn’t as bad as being on life support!”  We’re born with just two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises.  Every other fear is something we’ve learnt.  Do these fears have a right to impede us?  We created them!

  • Brainstorm all your fears.  Write a list as long as you can.  Write some more.
  • Read through your fears aloud.  Listen intuitively to your body.  Do you become tense? Does your heart rate increase?  This is a good indicator of fear as discussed by Charles Darwin in his book The Expression of Emotion.
  • Score each fear 0-10.  Where 0 fears have little impact on you, to 10 where you’re taken a long way outside your comfort zone.
  • Categorise your fears into ‘comfort zones’.  For example, fears scored 6 or less you can cope reasonably well with. Scores 7-8 are uncomfortable.  Fears scored 9 or 10 panic you.  You decide your thresholds.
  • What do your high scoring fears tell you?  What patterns can you see?
  • Tackle your highest scoring fears first.   As Brian Tracy says begin by eating the ugliest frog first.
  • What’s the worst that can happen?  If this fear comes true, what could you do to make the situation better?  Are you really not in control of the situation?  How can you regain control?

Priorities – what’s important?

Before the coma I was a busy man!  Lying in hospital with no responsibilities I asked myself: “What is it that’s really important to me?”  I was spending time on some things that demanded more of me than I got in return.  What’s your return on investment in the things you do?

  • Write down everything you’re doing in your life – for yourself, work, spouse and family – everything.
  • Cross through everything you do because you feel you ‘should’ be doing it or someone might be disappointed if you didn’t do it.  How much have you crossed out?
  • Put a star next to the things you want to do and enjoy doing.  If you aren’t doing the things you crossed out, what would you do more of or start doing?

According to Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix we should spend our time working at the things that are Important but Not Urgent – the quadrant of quality and personal leadership.  But most of us spend our time working at things that are Important but Urgent in nature – the quadrant of necessity.

Important Urgent Not Urgent
I – Managei.e. Crisis, pressing problems, time bound deadlines II – Focusi.e. planning, prevention, exercise, relationship building
Quadrant of Necessity Quadrant of Quality & Personal Leadership
Not Important III – Avoidi.e. interruptions, some emails etc. IV – Avoidi.e. mindless TV, trivia/busywork, time wasters
Quadrant of Deception Quadrant of Waste

How can you avoid activities in Quadrants III and IV?  How can you do more of Quadrant II?  How can you reduce efforts in Quadrant I so you have more time for Quadrant II?

Family and Friends

I’m fortunate to have a loving family and great circle of friends.  Families are important:

  • They are our first school after entering the world – we learn of love and shared experiences;
  • Family shape our personality and life as an individual;
  • Family is somewhere where we’re accepted without demanding much;

Think of the relationships you hold dear.  How can you nurture these relationships?  What one small gesture could you do right now to let someone know that you care about them?  Actions speak louder than words.  Do you hold any grudges?  How helpful are these grudges?

Despite having a pretty horrific illness I’ve gained a lot of positive insights from my experience, which I’m glad to share with you.  Confucius once said “the gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials” and one should “Never, never, never give up” – Winston Churchill.

Learn more about my book and seminar by following me on Twitter befriending me on Facebook and bookmarking my website.

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The last blog was actually a week ago. When I first realised I was concerned as I take pride in my regular contact. Then I realised partly ‘quality beats quantity’ and partly it was a sign of my new found self honesty. There have been many times the past year I have pushed my body a little too far. You will remember the recent blog on how I had realised my health must come first. So in slowing down, there has been less to report. Furthermore I have felt a little tired to conjure up a good article.

Also I have been busy and preoccupied this week with my annual sleep study. To some extent I could say “please see blog from 1 year ago” to explain my night last night. I will not repeat the overriding events that occur at every sleep study. However I was a bit nervous because after last year I had the worst winter ever health wise. I have been fretting that the study may reveal a deterioration in my general breathing overnight etc. I am happy to say after some tests and chats with the doctor there has been no longer lasting effects. I do need to return in December to try out a cough assist machine. This will help my weaker cough move any infection from a normal winter cold. So with no long term effects and some technology to help ‘if’ I have a bad winter this year, I am feeling brighter and relieved. They also said that I can use the machine at home next year. This may mean I actually get some proper sleep too for the study.

The hospital trip did unfortunately impact on the talk I was due to deliver tonight for the local council. Despite my intent on putting health first, I still endeavour to never let people down. I know they understood the reasons but I was looking forward to doing this tonight – c’est la vie. I will make the next one the best ever!

So other than sleep studies and missed talks I enjoyed the spurs game last Wednesday, stayed in Thursday through to Sunday. However Saturday night a friend from secondary school visited who I hadn’t seen in many years – was good to catch up. So Monday I drove back to mums and worked at home yesterday and today around the overnight hospital trip. Got back just in time for the new series of the apprentice. Highlight – “my first name wasn’t mummy, but ‘money’!” Was that for real?