Welcome to Beyond The Beers, conversations with men that break the stereotype. This is Episode Two, where I sat down with Jackson Auld – ‘Jacko’. We spoke for a bit longer than some of the other episodes in this series, so here I’ve scripted the first ten minutes. If you want to view the rest, then visit the site to watch it here.
Mike: Today I have with me, Jackson Auld, or Jacko.
Now, Jacko and I met when we did a twelve-day cycle tour through Cambodia for the organisation Project Futures. I recall that 1:00a.m. in Singapore Airport Transit Lounge, getting my name yelled just after this guy’s name and we wondered off to room together. This young kid said, “I’m a motivational speaker.” I was tired as all hell. We had a bit of a chat. He went out for a beer, I went to sleep, and that was it. Then we proceeded to room together for the next twelve nights of that trip.
It was a very interesting thing for me, one, because I’m 34 and Jacko’s 21, and having this 21-year-old motivational speaker was incredibly intriguing to me. But, I also learned very quickly that I really loved his perspective and take on life. And, he’s got some very cool stories he’s going to share with you today.
So, Jacko, welcome to the show mate. It’s great to have you here. Now, one of the things we like to do here on Beyond The Beers, is get to know the guests a little at first of all. So, what I want you to do is give us a little bit of the casual ‘over a beer’ – What do you spend your time doing and how do you make an impact on the world?
Jackson Auld – Jacko: Right. So, for me, my time is all about giving back to others, so I’m really passionate about my job. I get to wake up every day pretty excited about what I do. For my job, I get to go out and present to youth, adults or sorts of mixed people and motivate them to achieve what they want to achieve and just not limit themselves to that 9 to 5 grind of just paying the bills and that sort of thing. Sort of ‘follow their dreams’ as you’d say.
The second thing I’m really passionate about is disability. I hate the fact that disabled people are categorised as people that can’t really do anything. So, my passion and a charity that I work with called Dandelions, we’re all about giving kids and adults opportunities to play a bit of sport, network, have a bit of fun and just go beyond their disability to show people that they really can do some things and show the world that they’re a bit of person as well.
So, our philosophy behind that is diff-ability, not disability, so just a different ability. Because disability categorises them straight way. It’s like that word “dis” like they can’t do something, so diff-ability just means a little bit different, doesn’t mean they can’t do it and that’s why we like to call that what we do. But, outside of work, I love my footy, love my sport, love my horses. I grew up on a horse farm so that’s what I love and what I get around.
But, outside of work, I love my footy, love my sport, love my horses. I grew up on a horse farm so that’s what I love and what I get around.
Mike: And, I know that stuff about you which is partly what intrigued me about you, but the real thing that intrigued me was the story behind it. So, can you tell us how you got to that point?
Jacko: The pinnacle of my story started, late end of high school where I suffered a pretty debilitating neck injury. I can’t feel from my shoulder up on my left side. I can’t really taste properly. I have a lot of problems swallowing food because my oesophagus doesn’t work properly, so all these different challenges I have. So, sometimes a couple of beers in, I have a bit of a struggle getting the beer down without having a choke or two.
But, all these different challenges and it all stems from a football injury. At training, just an unfortunate event where someone put a bit of a shot on me and put me in a dangerous spot. So, my life went from being easy, just comfortable, going to school, playing footy, everything set out in front of me to being thrown in the deep end and having to figure out for myself what I wanted to do.
I still didn’t know what I wanted to do and I was lucky enough to come across this organisation that really built me up and then gave me this attitude of giving back. That was further cemented in when I was for a trip to Timor and built a few schools. So, I really developed this culture where it’s all about giving back to people and if you give back, people are going to start giving back to you as well. That’s my philosophy behind it.
Mike: Very nice. I feel like you’re kind of underselling the story a little bit. The thing that really resonated with me from you, is that it was a very serious injury. You broke your neck. You had to learn to walk again, but also to talk again, right? So, you talk about different ability, there was a lot of that seriously impacted on you.
Jacko: Yes, it wasn’t so much the walking again, that’s was pretty fine, it was just the talking again. My voice box just didn’t get out words properly, so I had a real strong lisp, I wouldn’t be able to finish my words properly. It was all due to the numbness and the different nerve endings not working properly.
There’s a nerve that runs through your face, it’s called the fifth nerve. What happens is there are five nerves that branch out in your face, when I got hit, mine was torn back out of my face and snapped in the channel which is behind the ear. So, all of my facial nerves don’t work properly, so I can’t smile properly, my eye doesn’t work properly – it doesn’t blink and that sort of stuff. So, they’ve got to put a gold weight in there later to make sure I can blink properly. So, all those of things, so that’s what stopped me from talking properly.
Mike: So, you’re still going through some serious recovery —
Jacko: Still going through that.
Mike: How long ago was that?
Jacko: Four years ago now.
Mike: Okay, four years. You’re still going through it, but it’s certainly not something that holds you back, clearly.
Jacko: No, definitely not. It stops me from playing my footy, which is a massive passion of mine because my brother plays it, my family love it, so it’s a bit of a passion. Just everyday things are a bit of a struggle. Like, I can’t really chew steak properly because of the struggle with the oesophagus because the little flap just doesn’t cover my windpipe anymore. So if I don’t do what I’ve got to do properly, I’ll probably choke and have a bit of trouble and be spitting up a bit.
Just all those little challenges of talking again and going through rehab and spending my weekends in the hospital instead of out were pretty tough to bring my mind around for sure.
Mike: One of the topics that we like to talk about here on Beyond the Beers, is the topic of manhood and how to improve ourselves as men and individuals. Now, I know that in your work you’re often dealing with boys and men in a range of ages and stages of life. So, I’m interested to get your take on what you think it is to be a man today.
Jacko: I think it’s really tough for us boys or men to figure out what that is. At the moment, look don’t get me wrong, I love the feminist movement, I think it’s the greatest thing in the world. Everyone should be on the same page, I agree with that completely. But, we sort of taught boys that they can’t be boys anymore. We’ve given them, if you don’t do this, you’re this and if you’re always around girls you’ve got the chance of being sexual predator and you’ve got all this sort of stuff thrown at them. And, we said, boys you can’t do that and we’ve sheltered them a lot.
It used to be with boys you just try to be the alpha male and you’d be the protector and the strong and the main income earning of your family. We sort of told them, now that’s not the thing. Pull yourself back, control your urges, control who you are and you’re not allowed to express yourself. I think we’ve really challenged them for boys and it’s become a place where boys are really challenged to find who they are.
Mike: Do you think that they are challenged in the sense that they are finding it challenging?
Jacko: Yeah, I think they’re challenged to not follow what they want to do, but they have to sculpt themselves to what society things a man should be. A lot of boys are coming out with a lot of depression, high suicide rates, all that sort of stuff. Because I don’t think they’re—
Mike: And, are you talking about these kinds of people on a daily basis?
Jacko: Yeah, definitely. And, boys are really struggling to find who they are. Like for me, if I look at the pinnacle of man in today’s society, it’s someone who gives to the community, has a great family, is really good to his partner, whoever the partner might be, whether a man or a woman. Has a good job, loves what he does and really moulds in society. Is a giver and a protector.
Mike: So, he contributes.
Jacko: Contributes, exactly.
Mike: But, he’s to some degree, perhaps a bit of a north star, a role model.
Jacko: That’s right, a role model to younger men. But, I think society just told men, what your role is, be a nice person and just fit in. Rather than be that strong influence, be that strong role model or be that someone that someone will look up to. Let’s say his name is Ben, I look at Ben, great job, great family, goes out and leads the community.
We’re not telling young boys to lead, we’re just telling young boys to fit in. I think it’s going to create a real bit of a challenging sphere for men. I think that’s why you see my generation of boys being really socially awkward because they haven’t really pushed themselves to find who they are and step up to be that man.
Mike: Yeah. I would agree with you, that was the key thing that you said in there, find who they are. Just a little bit lost as to where they are. It also sounds like you went through that to some degree yourself and since that your identity was football player, probably tradey at some point. Then that got, in one fell swoop taken away.
Jacko: Stripped outside the—
Mike: But you did that work?
Jacko: Yeah. Went from the football player, leader at school, trying to be the alpha male. New school, better, sort of a beta person down at the bottom, still testing the water. Not as confident, not as many friends and trying to find out who I was while I had these other influences trying to tell me who I should be, rather than letting me be who I am.
Mike: So, do you find now that you’ve found that? You’ve managed to shake off the conditioning or the expectations to find your own path?
Jacko: I think there’s still a lot of those conditions that are just constantly placed on you, whether it’s through media, family, friend or mentors. But, I think I’ve really started to figure out that this is what I want to do. It’s okay to be able to do what I want to do. I’m allowed to break the path of going to uni, spending five years there, going to a desk job that hate doing and just finding what you want to do.
So, I think I’ve broken that mould, but I still think I’m finding who I really want to be.
This is where we cut the transcription of this interview, if you want to watch the rest of it, click here to watch on YouTube.
Jacko will be speaking at the upcoming Sydney Beyond The Beers Event March 4th – ‘Conversations & Cool Shit For Men’. To get notified as soon as Early-Bird tickets are released fo this wevent (Or the following week in Melbourne) register HERE.