In June 2016 I was alone, relaxing in my flat, when I noticed something not quite right.
A strange tingling and weakness in my right side.
It was quickly getting worse…
I just managed to call 999. By the time I made it to hospital I’d lost the use of my right arm and leg.
The hospital staff were brilliant, but they had absolutely no idea what the cause was.
The medics told me, worst case it’s an aneurysm, I might not get out alive.
The next three weeks were really tough, waiting for a diagnosis.
Full of ‘what ifs’. Having one test after another to discount all sorts of syndromes I’d never heard of, each one sounding more ominous than the next.
Lying in my hospital bed, having lost my independence in a matter of hours, unable to move my right side, gives you a very different perspective. What had been a given, suddenly taken away.
I thought of all the things I hadn’t done with my life.
I’d been in the business world for 40 years, building and running my own businesses, and supporting many others.
I love what I do. What if I could never work again? What would I do?
I was working with only a handful of entrepreneurs a year, showing up in person, travelling to meet my clients, offering tailor-made services to each one.
Suddenly, all that was hanging by a thread.
And I can tell you, you ask yourself some big, profound, honest, no sh*t, get real questions.
What if I could reach, help and support businesses from, what at the time was, the comfort of my wheelchair? I wasn’t able to go anywhere on my own, let alone travel around the country.
What if I changed things up? What if I could inspire hundreds, maybe even thousands of entrepreneurs at the same time?
In the midst of this scary time, those ‘what ifs’ gave me a new sense of purpose, a reason to keep going.
I made myself a promise. If I get out of here, I’m really going to go for it.
Over the next year, with a lot of hard work, bloody mindedness and support, I made slow progress, to crutches, then to a walking stick, then to being able to move around unassisted. I relearned how to walk, write, do up buttons…
What got me through all of that was my new sense of purpose, together with the amazing support of family and friends.
I’ve spent the last four years making good on that promise to myself, facing my fears, and moving into uncharted territory.
A website (yes really, I’d never bothered before), public speaking, webinars, articles, even a radio show.
All to share my stories, my experience and my love for business as widely as possible.
I now view that horrendous experience as a stroke of luck, for which I will be eternally grateful. It has changed my life for the better. It has given me a new sense of purpose. It fills me with great joy to know that I’ve already helped hundreds more entrepreneurs than I would have before.
Life is precious, your business is precious. If there’s something you want to do, get on with it. Don’t wait. Start now.
P.S. Eventually I got a diagnosis: it was a rare type of stroke.