I have for a while been startled by the progressive improvements my client and friend David Gillham has made since we first worked together over 3 years ago..
With him now recently competing in Fitness Competitions in Japan, and taking his career and his body consistently to the next level and achieving his lifetime goal of becoming a professional stuntman.. And me feeling inspired by his story.. I asked him to share a few nuggets of his wisdom gained on his journey..
David Gilham’s Story
As I write this sat at my desk in Osaka Japan it’s hard to imagine where my life might be had I not made one vital decision several years ago, that decision was simply to not be satisfied with “OK” anymore.
Anyone can be called average, that’s why it’s average because it’s what the majority of people are. It’s where you find yourself by following the path of least resistance. I found myself in this ‘average’ zone of life in my late 20’s and early 30’s. I was part of Generation X, the disenfranchised youth who realized that perhaps things weren’t going to work out quite how we had hoped when we were in school. I had settled into a zone in life that was “OK”. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t even very good, but it was comfortable.
At the age of 30 I was divorced, absolutely broke, had no useful qualifications and had just been let go from my job.
This was a pretty unenviable situation to find myself in but in hindsight, it was this turmoil that drove me to change my life and make it the existence that I wanted to be proud of living. It made me get out of my comfort zone.
The most dangerous situation you can find yourself in is that of comfort. Are you happy? “I’m comfortable. I’ve rolled a six, that’s fine.”
Comfort is the enemy of improvement. Comfort keeps you scared because even though ‘Comfortable’ isn’t great it’s secure and you can live with that and the alternative might not be as easy. Getting up at 08:00 is comfortable but it’s not going to fulfill you whereas getting up at 06:00 and busting your butt and training or studying is going to be extremely uncomfortable but it’s going to satisfy you ultimately.
Losing my job was the first positive step and I required it to be made for me. As I mentioned above I was comfortable in that job. I was stuck in a rut but I was OK. I wasn’t fulfilled but I was comfortable and that kept me from taking the risk of leaving it.
It took my apathy at the job to result in my firing that finally put me into a position where I had to change.
I looked at myself and thought, “Well what do I do now? Do I try and find another ‘comfortable’ job and force myself to do that until I’m 70 so that I can continue to be a good consumer and retire ‘comfortably’”? Or do I recognize the fact that I only have one shot at life and start living as though this is my one and only opportunity to live the best life I possibly can?
I asked myself what it was that I really wanted to do. What kind of person I ultimately wanted to be. What am I passionate about? What motivates me? What drives me? I looked back at my younger self and recognized that I was always happiest being creative. I was a performer at heart and I loved being in front of a crowd. Well there we have it, that’s what I need to pursue. I’m going to be a performer, at the age of 30…with no qualifications…or experience. I knew that this sounded like a crazy pie on the sky dream that might result in failure but the only thing scarier than that was the other option. To go back to living a life that ultimately was not what I wanted.
That’s when the light bulb went off and I realized that if that was what I wanted to do with my life then anything else was simply a distraction or waste of time. I needed to go after this and accept that sacrifices would have to be made. I traded the luxuries that I had been working to maintain in order to free myself enough to achieve what I actually wanted. Gone went my expensive contract phone, nights out and frivolous spending. For a while, even a stable roof over my head was a thing of the past as I couch surfed and crashed with anyone who would offer a place to stay while I went after my goals.
There’s never an ideal time to make a change. If you wait for it then it will never happen. You will always be too busy, or have ‘Too much on right now.’ That excuse will always be there, there will always be a more convenient time, a better starting point and this will allow you to procrastinate over and over and over again until you realize that you successfully talked yourself out of ever getting started.
What’s important is to remember that it is never too late. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you are in life, what your situation is or however many good years are in your rearview mirror. It is never too late to make a change and turn your life around. Your life can literally be whatever you want it to be. You just have to make the decision to change and stick with it. Don’t wake up, look at the calendar and say “One day” Look at that calendar and say to yourself with power, confidence and affirmation “Day one!” For me its now day 2’500 (give or take a week) and I’ve never looked back.
After several years of grinding and struggling and focusing on my goal of becoming a full-time actor my hard work was starting to pay off. Work was becoming more frequent, I was starting to gain confidence in my abilities and more and more opportunities were presenting themselves. More importantly than that, I was happy with myself, the path I was on and who I was.
One day I came across a casting call for stunt performers to work at a theme park in Japan. This prospect was without exaggeration my absolute dream job. I had always wanted to live and work over seas and the idea of being a stuntman is something every daredevil young kid who grew up on a diet of pro-wrestling and comic books would aspire to be when they grow up.
This is where the real hard work comes in! I knew by now that nothing worth having comes easy and if I was even going to be considered for a role like this I needed to not only look the part, but have the physical abilities needed to pull off something like this.
That’s where Tim Robinson stepped in. I had known Tim a long time from being a regular member of the gym he worked at. Contrary to my own advice and despite my efforts in other areas of my life my gym routine had always been ‘comfortable’. I made enough effort to look respectable but never really went outside my comfort zone to make big improvements.
Now with the prospect of a highly sought-after role on the horizon where I knew the competition would be tough I understood that in order to be seen as exceptional above the other candidates I had to train exceptionally.
I always work best when I follow a game plan. I’m an all or nothing type of person and if I was going to get in the best shape of my life I needed to go all in.
I knew that if I was going to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to this I had to make sure that I maximized every moment and opportunity I had from lifting weights to sleep and diet.
Tim and I sat down and we discussed my exact goals. Where I was, where I needed to be and how I was going to get there.
Now that I had someone guiding me and steering me in the right direction I had the confidence to invest all my energy in getting where I had to go.
I made a point to tell people exactly what I was doing and working for. Sharing your goals with people gives you extra motivation to show you can achieve them. If people look at you with skepticism that’s a wonderful motivator because then you can prove them wrong.
I worked with Tim diligently and every day I could see the improvements appearing. When it came time to attend the audition I felt ready, I felt confident and I felt like I had the support I needed.
I didn’t get the job.
The casting people loved my attitude, they loved my confidence and personality but they just weren’t sure I was right for the stunt role. I couldn’t blame them. With no prior experience, it didn’t necessarily make sense to take a chance on an unknown entity.
Every cloud has its silver lining though and thanks to the positive attitude and confidence I had on display and in no small part to the encouragement and preparation I had received from Tim I was offered an acting role in the park at a different venue. I would be doing that theme park job in Japan after all.
Of course the story doesn’t end there. Yes I was an actor in Japan and this was a role I loved very much. But it wasn’t the role I set out for. I still had a mountain to climb. I stayed in regular contact with Tim and followed his coaching, advice and encouragement from my new home over here and trained diligently every day with the same goal in sight. To be a stuntman!
Now we’re back at my desk in Osaka and I did it. I got the stunt role. After persistence, perseverance and no shortage of early mornings and late nights I achieved my dream job. I’m a stuntman in Japan.
All I ever really wanted was to have fun doing what I do in life. To be able to wake up excited at the prospect of going to work and the nervous energy that comes with not knowing what the next great adventure will be. Essentially to have a life less ordinary and now I have it. As cliché as it might sound if I can do it anyone can it’s only a choice between fear and life. Fear tells you to wrap yourself up in that blanket, stay warm, be happy with whatever you have and ignore that voice telling you that you’re not satisfied. Life tells you that you only have one opportunity on this earth to live your life and if you’re brave and dedicated and believe in yourself then you can live a life you’re proud of.
Don’t wait for your circumstance to be ideal, just make a decision to be your ideal self. Be the change that you want to see. Everything comes down to you, not what is around you. It’s not your environment that needs to change it’s your attitude towards it. As a wise man once said, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
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