Success Starts [In] You
Until my late 20s, I felt like I had been fighting my whole life. Brought up on the south side of Johannesburg, in South African government housing (similar to “the projects” in the USA), I learned early on that what really mattered was how tough you were. Growing up as I did, I often felt trapped in a really bad nightmare — and I wanted to wake up.
But as they say, tough times build strong character. I was determined to survive the school bullies and the gangsters on the streets of my neighbourhood. Yet, even though I survived the violence outside of my home, my home wasn’t safe either. Things turned rough in my teens. My abusive, alcoholic mother kicked me out of the house at 17, and as a result, I never finished high school.
Destitute and homeless, I found myself sleeping on the inner city streets of Johannesburg. With less than $20 in my pocket, I decided then and there, to change the trajectory of my life. I realized in my darkest moments of my despair that success comes down to what you do on the inside, no matter what’s happening to you on the outside.
The truth is, I realized that the only narrative that really mattered was my own. As with any story, my life’s story could have any kind of ending I chose. On my journey to healing and self-discovery I decided not only what my story would ultimately become, but how it would play out. The final ending as they say, still remains unwritten, but hopeful.
What got me through this incredibly tough time in my life? The inner resiliency fitness tools I learned as a martial artist.
My martial arts practice taught me to be resilient, to embrace my fears, to develop laser-like focus, and to never give up. Having developed these qualities (I had to!), I went back to school, put myself through college, and have just handed in my final doctoral thesis.