You may not have heard of Matt Hampson. This Mothers Day (15th March in the UK) marks the tenth anniversary of him suffering a severed spine during a scrum in a game of rugby. Matt was a talented young rugby player, the game was for England U21, and it was thought he had a promising career ahead of him. His injury has left him paralysed from the neck down, wheelchair bound and he is permanently on a ventilator.
So what does Matt say?
“It took me getting paralysed from the neck down before I started to use my brain”.
He further said ‘in the weeks after I was injured, I said to my dad: “This could make me a better person”,’ he says. ‘I didn’t really believe it at the time, but I just wanted to ease his pain. But looking at it now, maybe I am a better person. I think about things a lot more and I think about others more. (Daily Mail, 20 April 2013).
More importantly, what did Matt do?
He set up the Matt Hampson Foundation. This is a fantastic organisation that inspires and supports young people injured through sport.
Hearing Matt speak – he is very inspirational and forward looking. The slogan of his Foundation is “Get Busy Living!”. What really strikes you is his lack of bitterness and exhortion to focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.
If we were to follow Matt’s example, what would we be doing?
We would focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t do. How would we do this?:
- Focus on our strengths – these are what make us successful. Richard Branson recognises this. He knows what he is good at and surrounds himself with people who can cover the gaps. He can therefore concentrate on what he does best, rather than becoming average at things he is not good at.
- Look forward rather than look back – we can’t change the past, but so many people have baggage related to previous experiences. Just ask Tidjane Thiam who will become the CEO of Credit Suisse in June. According to The Economist, it transpires he survived a military coup, fumbled a $36 billion deal, and lived to tell the tale. If you keep reliving your failures, all of that energy that could be used to drive career or business success is effectively disappearing down the plug hole.
- Remember that positivity is a decision (Bear Grylls) – if something happens we do have a choice. How we respond to challenge or adversity is something we decide. Matt chose to live his life in the fullest way possible after his injury, when he could so easily have retreated into his disability. I do not doubt in his darkest moments he doesn’t think “why me”. We are all human. But successful people are the ones who consistently find it within themselves to pick themselves up and face the next challenge.
- Use the resources that we have to the full – it took Matts injury before he realised he was not using his brain. What do you have access to that would help you in your life or career and are not using?
But most important of all is to DO. Goals without action are just dreams. If you are finding that you are your biggest barrier to being successful, what is stopping you from changing this? Being in a wheelchair didn’t stop Matt and for most people that would be an impossible challenge.
Listening to Matt has inspired me. He is a fantastically positive young man who does all he can to achieve the most he can out of life. Hopefully this post inspires you to reconsider if you are approaching life in the same way. So are you busy living?
If you aren’t, perhaps it is time you thought about working with a coach? Just a thought…