I have been a member of TLR coworking for 6 months and I thought it was about time I shared my personal story with you all in the hope to inspire others. In all honesty, this was quite tricky for me to talk about, but here we go…
Around 20 years ago, when I was 10 years old, I was a really happy kid and living with my family in Belgium. Then, my dad decided we were going to move to Southern Spain, so we ended up moving to Estepona (which is just down the coast from the TLR Soho office!). Initially, I was excited to live by the beach in the sun all year round! However, when I arrived, the reality was completely different. I didn’t speak the language, and I went straight to a Spanish public school and I started to get bullied. Time went on and my parents separated, and my mum and little brother moved back to Belgium. I decided to go back to Belgium too as all I wanted was to have friends again and feel included. However, this unfortunately didn’t happen. So I started my search: What do I wanna do? Who do I wanna be?
Chasing the Kite Surfing Dream
I started surfing in Tarifa in Spain when I was 13 years old and I was completely hooked. Someone once told me very wisely to dedicate my life to what I love doing as it will make me happy, so that’s exactly what I did!
I decided to go to South Africa where there was surf all year round, however, I was crippled by my anxiety and nearly didn’t get on the plane. When I finally made it there I started to work at a kite surfing school and started teaching. When I was on the beach everything was great, I was loving life, but then when the social part came, I would feel anxious and depressed again. So, I started to work 7 days a week kite surfing. This went on for around 4 months until I was completely burnt out, so then I got on a plane to the next location and did it all over again, and again, and again. To many people, the life of kite surfing, travelling, and meeting new people may seem like the dream, however for me, it wasn’t. I was just running away from my anxiety and depression, it was a very lonely experience and I never really made friends.
The Billionaire Effect
Something then changed, my last destination was Antigua and Barbuda. For those of you who don’t know, in the winter it becomes this billionaire’s playground; I kite surfed with Richard Branson and footballer player Andrea Pirlo! I would instruct billionaires for 2-3 hours a day and after they would often invite me up onto their boats for a drink with their family and friends. I started realising they were just ordinary people, just like me, so why can’t I be like them, have money and live the way they do? I noticed the main difference between them and me was their decision-making process.
Whilst this seems simple, I would spend a lot of time on each of the points in the below image, and always second-guess and doubt myself. Making a decision is actually very exhausting! In contrast, these billionaires would be able to make a decision in just a couple of seconds – they have no doubts at all.
After Antigua, I decided I wanted to get into the business sector, I want to be like these guys! I thought because I had this decision-making process figured out, I could do it, right? Wrong. The reality is I was still struggling with anxiety and depression and I wasn’t a stable person. So I came back to Spain and started my own kite school and stuck with what I knew. “Fly High” Kite school was born in Marbella however this didn’t last too long and when I had the slightest setback, I would just jump to another project, and then another.
Becoming part of a Tribe
Then I started working for a guy called Wim who owned a distribution company for home technologies (alarm systems, speakers, etc). The people who worked at the company called themselves a “Tribe” and if felt just like that, a tribe. I also got the opportunity to work with very large corporate companies, including Harman. Wim gave me confidence and made me want to become better.
Even though I’m not working for him anymore, I feel part of their community to this day, part of their tribe. This was a hugely important factor for me and also an important message for anyone who is looking to set up their own business, create a tribe mentality and people will want to become part of it.
The Time/Money Concept
I was feeling very insecure as all of my friends were starting to get the jobs they wanted, earn good money, buy a house, I’m sure many of you reading this can relate? However, a conversation with Wim made me realise life isn’t about going on the same journey as everyone else, you have to create your own path.
Below is the average persons earning curve (orange line). This is how much money people make generally over time. Then, the blue line is my personal earning curve, which, as you can see, made me feel like I was doing something wrong!. Then comes the (green) dots of life, these are the events that happen in your life, the people you meet, skills you learn etc. Most people earn a few dots when they get a job, have some good ideas, get a promotion/house. However, you can see that there aren’t a lot of dots in most people’s lives, why not? This is because once they start their job, they see the same people every day, go to the same office every day, they have the same routine – every day, so their dots are very limited.
In contrast, now you can see my dots in life (on my blue line), there’s so many as I’ve met so many people, had so many ideas, experienced so many different things. As Wim said, the dots represent the actual value in your life. It’s not about the car you have or the money you make, it’s about the events in your life. At some point, certain dots will connect, and when those dots connect, that’s when you take off in life.
My project: IDLY
I finally decided to start my very own company. It was going be in the service industry and it was going be online, and that’s all I knew. On the 30th Nov 2018, I went to my dad’s office and I just wrote on a whiteboard, something just all clicked into place! I wrote “IDLY”, which is the project I’m working on now. Essentially, Idly connects massage therapists with massage customers, and they interact through our platform. I know what you’re thinking, what would stop me from jumping to another project when this doesn’t go in the right direction? Well, I made a clear decision on that day in November, there will be no plan B. IDLY is going to work, there are no what-ifs. In order to succeed, this has to be your mindset.
What about the anxiety and depression I hear you ask? I learned from a guy called Dr Alan Watkins who really helped me with this. It’s all about your breathing, control your breathing! It sounds obvious and we’ve probably heard it all before, but It does actually work! Breathing controls your emotions and the way you think.
In the image below, the vertical line is our heart rate. A low heart rate equals a relaxed state. Basically, our physiology (our heart rate) is connected with our emotional state. Where do you think most people are situated in society today? Unfortunately, on the right-hand side. However, it’s so easy to get over to the left-hand side just by controlling your breathing! And I don’t mean 10 minutes of meditation every day, control it 24 hours a day by counting 4 seconds in, 2 seconds hold, and 4 seconds out. I’ve been doing this for 1.5 years now and I’ve become a different person, I’m focused and excited/happy about everything I do.
My perfect wave
I’ve finally figured out that my perfect wave is about having an escape where you can disconnect your mind, make decisions efficiently and deal with the consequences. Be mindful of the dots/events that happen in your life. Have no plan B, and finally BREATHE. However, all of this is completely useless if you’re not part of a tribe. We are individuals who need to form part of a community. For me personally, being here at TLR over the last few months and being part of the community has been a major dot in my life. I finally feel like I’m really part of something. I’m usually quiet and working behind my desk as that’s just who I am, but inside I am hugely grateful to be part of the TLR family tribe.
Nic is currently developing the future of massage where you can book anywhere, anytime via Idly. Created out of a personal need to find professional massage therapists and offer massage therapists a safe and profitable work environment. He also offers marketing services, creating content and web/app design with his company Kikolator Development. His life philosophy: Not all those who wander are lost. Be humble, observe and learn.