When you say yes amazing things can happen.
I was next. Standing stage left, taking a peak at the audience through a slit in the ceiling to floor curtains. 1500 people being energised, motivated and inspired over the course of two days by speakers from all over the world. How did it come to be that I was on the other side of the world, speaking at the Happiness and it’s Causes conference in Sydney Australia. Well, to understand that, I first need to take you back 12 years where I was at the lowest of my lows fighting for my life.
Disneyland Paris, 2006. I was on a 3-day school trip, enjoying the rides with my friends, when all of a sudden I found myself feeling spaced out and not able to focus on what people were saying. I mean, I could hear words, but I couldn’t digest and make sense of them. Fast forward two days after returning back home and I’m being rushed to hospital, struggling to breathe, unable to make sense of my speech and with blue feet.
The doctors said I was extremely ill and needed a special kind of life support machine. Luckily for me, Great Ormond Street Hospital for children had the last available machine, so I was transferred and I went on to spend the next seven weeks fighting for survival.
The team at GOSH found out that I had three viral infections at the same time and was given a 10% chance of survival, my white blood cells were reducing to zero. I had a seizure whilst in an induced coma and needed to be resuscitated and brought back to life an incredible twelve times. The medical experts said they could only think that it came from the air conditioning on the coach, as 80% or so of students fell sick with flu-like symptoms, but were back to school after a couple of days. My body took such a hit that I had to relearn how to breath again for myself, use hand-eye coordination, how to sit up, stand and walk again without the aid of people and machines supporting me. It took the best part of a year for me to recover and two years after my stay in hospital, the phone rang. It was GOSH.
They asked if I would like to share my story with Morgan Stanley. I agreed, although I did not know who they were (I honestly though it was two people, Morgan and Stanley!) Little did I know it was actually a charity event for the global investment banking firm and the audience would be 400 people! Did I mention that public speaking was my number one fear in the universe? I had a choice to make. Say no and nothing changes, I just carry on my day, or say yes with the chance of amazing things happening. I said yes.
The event was a success and I got a body buzz at the end when everyone started to clap. Did I, did enjoy it, maybe? I was confused how I was feeling but it felt good, I asked GOSH if they ever wanted me to speak again I would love to support them and build my confidence.
The phone rang again. It was GOSH. They asked if I would like to help pitch one of the biggest charity partnerships they have ever had, worth £7.5m with a company called Whitbread PLC and they wanted me to support them. I was petrified, I felt the pressure and I had a choice to make. Say no, and nothing changes and I carry on my day. Or say yes and amazing things could happen. I said yes.
The partnership was one and I was approached by two exec directors at Whitbread PLC asking if I would like to join Whitbread and help support and raise the funds. Decision time..I think you are starting to understand the pattern here. I said yes. It took me on a four year adventure all over the UK, speaking with thousands of amazing team members and helping teams get involved in fundraising. I saw the true power of teamwork and within four years of the partnership we had smashed the £7.5m fundraising target.
I then left Whitbread and decided that speaking was in fact my true passion, I loved connecting with people and inspiring people from many different places. With over 100 talks under my belt I decided I wanted to carry on speaking and set up Anthony Inspires Ltd.
Since I started my company, the inspiration has been rippling outwards around the world. through schools, colleges and universities, where I get to support and give back to the younger generation. Healthcare events, where I have the opportunity to thank the incredible superheroes that dedicate their lives to help save lives and improve the quality of life for people in need. Also, corporate events where I share the true power of what teamwork can do.
Looking back, 12 years ago I would have never of dreamt that my biggest fear would become my biggest passion. Twelve years later I’m glad I said yes. Because, when you say the word no, nothing changes. When you say the word yes, amazing things can happen!
Many thanks to our guest blogger Anthony Bennett @https://www.iamantbennett.com