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The Art of Change


A few years ago when on a trip to Japan I bought this bowl which I thought was absolutely perfect.

I'd never seen anything like it and assumed it had always been this awesome. But as I went on to learn, only a few weeks before I bought it from the shop it had been a broken bowl and smashed into no fewer than seven pieces. What I now had was the result of a craft called ‘kintsukuroi’ - what I consider an art of awesome transformation.

Kintsukuroi happens as a result of something that has been broken. When we see the likes of a broken bowl, broken cup or broken heirloom we have some choices:

• We can throw it out and lose all the history, expertise and memories that it held
• We can glue it back together with PVA, but look at it knowing that it’s not as ‘perfect’ as it once was
• We can stick it back together with liquid gold (this is kintsukuroi), making it stronger, more valuable, more awesome than it ever was to start with.

With a new year upon us, now is an excellent opportunity to reflect on our lives and see how we are putting them together; what’s made us stronger, more valuable, more awesome than we were a year ago? And what are the things that help us to stick together what may be broken?

Being born with Cerebral Palsy as I was it could, if you like, have been similar to receiving a broken bowl, but in following a few basic principles that are universal to all and indeed applicable as we set our aspirations for the year ahead, I found my liquid gold through believing…

Every day’s an opportunity to improve:
I avoided the prescribed mobility aids that I was given on my birth through going to the hospital every day for the first seven years of my life. As I’ve got older I’ve replaced the hospital with sports and going to the gym, knowing these ultimately improve my mobility.

A better tomorrow starts today:
I remember when speaking was my number one fear (as it is for many), but I kept getting presented with opportunities to speak. After saying no one too many times I thought maybe I’m missing out on a big opportunity, and the day I said YES to that opportunity was the day my life jumped up many gears.

Respect others:
Every single one of us has a story to tell and what unites us is our ability to dream, to feel and to believe, and one of the most empowering things we can do is to smile at and say hello to everyone we encounter in our day.

Make a difference:
Our success isn’t determined by what we achieve individually but by how we learn from our experiences to move, connect and inspire others. When I chose to live for a purpose beyond myself, life became a lot more exciting, meaningful and, in turn, rewarding.

Working together:
One of my favourite stories is that of Wayne Gretzky who’s the NHL’s (National Hockey League's) all-time leader in goals and all-time leader in assists, but with twice as many assists as goals. When asked about this in an interview Wayne said, “A goal makes one guy happy, but an assist makes two guys happy”.

Good things stand the test of time:
Ever since I was a kid I've focused on the three things I want to be able to do in this world. They are to travel, to entertain, and to connect people.
These things led me to who I could be, firstly as an athlete and then as a speaker. Core values are what see us maintain excellence when the only constant in this world is change.

Go the extra mile:
People remember the way we make them feel and with that they change their perceptions of us. These feelings can be generated by the smallest of gestures if they are unexpected.

As we embrace these values, this is what becomes our liquid gold, this is the stuff that forms a truly awesome and this is what unites everyday people. All we need to do is believe!