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I was born missing my right leg above the knee, and was told that I would never be able to run. By age 28 I had long accepted this excuse, and from the outside my life looked fine. I was newly married and working a full-time IT job.
But on the inside, I felt directionless, like I was just coasting along and gaining weight sitting behind a desk. I had no sense of purpose and struggled just to get out of bed. I needed to make a change.
I’ve always found inspiration in superhero stories. I love the idea of an accidental hero, a guy who thinks he’s a nobody but discovers his power and uses it to make the world a better place. I wanted that to be my story, to transform my life and improve the world. But I just couldn’t do it.
I tried multiple times to lose weight. I searched online for tips and motivation, but nothing seemed to stick. The smallest changes felt impossible. There was always an excuse to give up or fail.
When we try to make a change, we always look for the quick fix. We think we’ll find a secret tip or technique that will turn our life around and transform everything. But it’s never that easy. Real change takes hard work, and even more than that, it takes a change of mindset. We need to stop making excuses and hold ourselves accountable.
To make bold changes in our lives we need someone to inspire us. For me, I found my inspiration in my sister, Anne-Marie. She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when she was 13. She didn’t sit around asking, “Why me?” or wallow in self-pity. She fought through it, went through chemo and radiation for 10 years and came out the other side a survivor.
Anne-Marie reminded me of how short life can be, and of the importance of not believing anything is impossible. If she did not accept excuses, why should I? What could I achieve with the right mindset? I could get out of my rut and achieve things I had never even dreamed of.
I stopped accepting excuses, got out of my comfort zone and pushed myself beyond the barriers that I and others had set for me. I started with small goals. I joined a CrossFit gym, lost weight and began running on my artificial leg. I started sharing these goals and documenting my progress, and this accountability was extremely motivating.
As I started to achieve my goals, my confidence grew, and in turn so did my ambitions. I realised that the only way to know if something was impossible was to try it and find out. Every time a challenge presented itself, I ignored the excuses in my head and just went for it.
By the end of the year I completed an Ironman triathlon, setting a world record for fastest above-the-knee amputee to complete the event. Three years later I was the first Australian to compete as a triathlete in the Paralympics.
After six years of training for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, I was told that my race was removed from the Paralympics. Rather than letting this excuse defeat me, I accepted a new challenge and am now committed to racing the most difficult Ironman in the world: a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike and a 42.2km run.
I believe that we have a responsibility to give back, to help others find the success we’ve found for ourselves. I didn’t always see it this way. In 2014 I didn’t understand why anyone would want to volunteer. Why would you want to give your time away for free?
That all changed when my boss at the time asked me to volunteer as a mentor for a week at a camp run by the charity Zero2Hero. The camp program promotes good mental health for young people and provides them a supportive space where they can develop and grow.
That week changed my life. I understood the ultimate fulfillment of giving wholeheartedly to others. It enabled me to witness firsthand how just being present and having a real conversation could create a real bond and have a profound impact on these young people.
Five years later I give my time whenever possible to Zero2Hero. I am committed to the vision of a world where very child and young person is educated and empowered to effectively deal with mental health issues, and mental illness is dealt with openly and treated as a normal part of everyday life.
Have you ever felt so stuck you just wanted to give up? That was me. I learned to change my mindset and I am now living proof of how the world can open up to you once you stop making excuses.
Nobody achieves their dreams on their own. My greatest joy and desire is helping others realise their potential by sharing what I’ve learned in my life. That’s my mission as a father, husband, Paralympian, motivational speaker and creator of the No Xcuses Mindset.
I want to inspire you to be more and live your life to the fullest. I hope you’ll join me and see how embracing the No Xcuses Mindset can completely turn your life around.