“I just don’t have time.” “I can’t really be bothered.” *Insert other ‘lying to yourself’ excuses here…
So many people unconsciously choose to go down a path of mediocrity and shift the blame onto others and things seemingly outside of their control.
In short, their mindset is shithouse.
In order to hopefully give those people a swift kick up the arse I’d like to introduce Nathan Charles, a professional rugby player for Australia’s Western Force. 25 years old, athletic, strong and successful;
Nathan has just been named to make his international debut for the Australian Wallaby’s to play France this weekend.
It might be hard to see how someone with that description fits into a story about mindset.
However, Nathan is much more than just a very successful athlete. At just three months old he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that significantly affects the lungs and the pancreas. It can be a devastating condition that traditionally has a life expectancy of just 37 years old.
Upon diagnosis, Nathan’s parents were told that he may not make it to his tenth birthday.
In the face of such adversity and with a future that looked to be laden with immense challenges, his resolve never faltered. Nathan has never viewed his condition an obstacles to success. He is adamant that he not be defined by cystic fibrosis and is passionate about raising awareness of the perils of the disease in his position as a national ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis Australia.
Nathan doesn’t need lashings of praise or hyperbole, his story speaks volumes. He has the unmistakable markings of a respected leader and is an inspiration to many.
In short, his mindset is inspiring.
I spoke to Nathan to get an insight into this mindset and how he approaches life. It intrigued me greatly someone suffering from what is normally such a debilitating condition, was playing a tough and physically demanding sport at such a high level. I should know the demands of the sport; I played it for over 20 years, and didn’t make it as high as Nathan.
My interest was focused around how he has got through tough times and his condition to become the elite athlete that he is, when many (far too many) men make excuses day after day as to why they can’t exercise, eat properly or look after themselves.
Let’s see what he had to say:
What’s your take on health and obtaining good health?
When I think of health I think of family and I think of future in life. Be the best you possibly can be. You can be alive and as happy for as long as you can be and you can enjoy all the things life has to offer, you know, like kids, grandkids, first day of school and all that sort of stuff. And there the things I guess my parents talk about. They enjoy and look back and see they’re the memories that you want to have and you want to enjoy those memories and not be in a hospital bed or crippled at home because you didn’t utilize your health and it just fades away.
I do think some people see it as a task. You have to have the dedication for it and I guess for some people it’s just not a priority. You know work, socializing and all that, it’s more of a priority than keeping fit and healthy. I have a biased judgment; I think exercise is a main factor in keeping healthy. So people that don’t exercise day to day, I wouldn’t say they’d be as healthy as they possibly could be.
Do you think having cystic fibrosis (CF) means you approach life differently?
To myself I don’t think I approach anything differently than anyone else. In the real scheme of things I have to be a lot more cautious with a lot of social aspects of life. Obviously I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, I don’t do anything like that- in terms of health I just have to be a little more cautious of hygiene and those sort of things. And I have to be really disciplined with my taking medications, vitamins and being proactive. Some people can afford to get a little cocky. That won’t affect them too bad but I can’t afford that.
I think at times you do get a little bit down about things, but I look at myself and I see how fortunate I am to do what I do day to day. When you look at other kids are affected by CF, they have no chance of achieving, and seeing these day to day things that I do. So I’m very fortunate in that sense and I don’t like to take that for granted but some days you do and that’s when you might slip. That’s where the days you really hold things tight and really work for. It’s times when you have to work the hardest and then when you achieve your goals it’s some of the most satisfying.
What would you say are the keys to success in any area?
I think being motivated and determined to succeed. If you want to get there you’ll do the work. If you get your mind around what you want to achieve. If you don’t particularly want to be there, you don’t really care, as a result you’re not going to get 100% out of what you do. So taking the time, effort and preparation. And the more I’ve been in a professional sporting environment, the more I’ve found my preparation to be vital to success. So in rugby I’m constantly changing goals and things I need to work on or improve from the week before to try and make myself the complete player.
One quote that I use and that I live by myself is “believe you can do anything that you want. The only thing that’s stopping you is yourself.” That comes from a mindset that I strongly believe- your body is the stupidest thing known to man and would do anything the mind says. So when you’re thinking ‘no I can’t’ – you say “I can do it” – and your body just does it.
What values to you hold in highest regard?
Being disciplined to be as healthy as I can be, because my health is the first priority- if I haven’t got my health right my life and rugby performances will suffer. So that’s number one priority for me. And trying to be as genuine as I can and as nice as I possibly can be. That’ll create good relationships for me and make things a lot easier in my life. And then in all aspects of life preparation is the key to knowing where you’re going. If you’re not preparing for success, you’re preparing to fail. So whatever it is you want to do well and you care about, preparation is definitely a key factor.
Having talked to Nathan I was in awe of his approach to life and his determination to succeed, not only as an elite rugby player, but just as a person, and a man. His drive, focus and attitude set him up to succeed and allow him to accomplish the amazing things that he does on a daily basis.
After wrapping up our chat I was utterly perplexed how so many men can take their life and health for granted, when someone so inspirational as Nathan can break through the confined restraints of a condition like cystic fibrosis to not only live a full and enjoyable life, but to push and do more remarkable things than most of us could dream about.
If this isn’t a lesson in drive, focus and choice then I don’t know what is. I sincerely hope Nathan’s story can inspire you, as it has me. The next time you’re struggling to get down to the gym, prepare a healthy meal instead of grab something quick and crap or make excuses for a shitty lifestyle remember- you’re lucky to have this life, use it and make something of it. You have the power and control and you alone can make the change to become more awesome. Make the choice. Simple.
Finally, I want to wish Nathan all the best for his test debut this weekend!
You can watch an up to date interview with Nathan here.