A Painful Life Lesson Learned the Hard Way, Despite Knowing That It Exists

I had to pull over to the side of the road. Continuing would have been a ludicrous decision

I hadn’t felt like this in a LONG time. In fact, the last time had been a few years ago and what resulted was my clenched fist meeting a wall at home (note: that was not a good time for me)

I’d just come back from a phenomenal weekend in Perth celebrating the wedding of two of my best friends. It was honestly one of the best weekends I’d had for the past year. And on top of that, I’d been able to step away from my startup business for the first time since beginning it over 12 months ago and nothing went to pieces! So, life was pretty fucking exceptional

The question is then, why did I pull over to the side of the road and scream my lungs out… why was there so much frustration, so much pain, so much anger welled up inside of me…

I feel for my steering wheel for that 5 second outburst of rage

As I sat there, it’s the first time in years I’ve ever wanted to breakdown. I wanted to become the Niagara Falls, to let it all go and let it all out. Sure, there was a lot happening with my family and health concerns, but it wasn’t that

As I sat there, I began to reflect. What was happening? Why wasn’t I “happy” at that point in time… What had I let build up so much that it hadfestered into this present moment I was experiencing

Then I remembered back to a point in time on one of our Academy podcasts with ex National Level Gymnast Tiahn Pesterey who had spent time at the AIS

She had said “it was like I’d found heaven and then had it ripped away from me”

There’s a cliche that goes around — nothing’s ever what you think it will be like once you get there…

It’s like when you meet an idol or hero of yours and they never live up to the expectations you’ve set for them…

The reality doesn’t match the dream

In the past 12 months all of my dreams have come true with The Academy and life. I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to tick off the goals I’d set myself and more — and yet, here I was, about to breakdown


That was the question I asked myself on the side of the road

It hit me like a ton of bricks… “Nick, are you chasing your goals right now or what you think you should want/what others want for you/doing things out of ego”

At that present moment, I wasn’t living in alignment with my values

I’d placed my business in a position where it needed growth — as hell, that’s what businesses are supposed to do, right? Essentially, if it’s not growing, it’s dying… but where I was stuck was the metric I was defining growth on

Society tells us business growth comes from an increase in clients & revenues/profit… I beg to differ however

The Academy began as a vision & a dream to help the next generations of young athletes & adolescents so that they didn’t have to suffer the pain that I did in my youth… to guide and support them so that they can develop themselves into the athletes and people they aspire to become

To throw down the ladder and help them up… to teach them the lessons it’s taken me 27yrs to learn so that they can learn them early in life

And somewhere along the way I let QUANTITY become more important than QUALITY — when one of my highest values in life is Quality > Quantity… I’d made decisions in the past that had forced that equation to switch and now I was dealing with the reality of those decisions

That is where all of this pain was coming from. And what hurt most was that I knew I should have & could have stopped it… I should have been more self-aware and not listen to the thoughts and opinions of others nor valued myself based on numbers

I had reached Heaven and the gates had been closed

The kids had noticed this…
Sean had noticed this…
Sadly, I hadn’t

But then, like a strike of lightning, I saw the lesson this emotional pain was teaching me and I had the breakthrough I needed — I had to change the metric I was defining growth and progress by

“It’s not about the numbers Nick, it’s about the connection and impact” — that’s what you’re here for — to give everything you have to change these kids lives. End of discussion

I was chasing a “rabbit” that personally didn’t sit right with me, and this breakdown was the result. I was chasing a rabbit others were telling me to chase… A rabbit that I thought I needed to catch

I’m incredibly grateful for the breakdown and the pain, as it’s helped me get back on the right path and focus on what matters most — helping and impacting the current Academy Kids

In “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck”, Mark Manson dives into how pain is necessary in life and a huge teacher for us. It’s here to tell us that something is wrong, so go fix it. Don’t try and hide it or “sweep it under the rug”, sit with it and identify where it’s coming from, then go change that

Funnily enough, it was the book I had been reading prior to all of this, and it’s a book one of the Academy boys Hayden had been telling me I should read…

Pain & adversity are two of our greatest teachers in life, and yet, we try to minimise them… This should not be our aim, nor should “numbing” them or running away when they do come — instead we should embrace them, face them and use them to our advantage

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage
— Anais Nin

If we don’t display the courage to sit with the pain and face the adversity, we will never learn the lesson and nothing will ever change until we do… instead of a brighter future, you will yourself in a worse, more painful situation

Like sitting in your car on the side of the road screaming your lungs out and banging your steering wheel like a maniac

Your pain is here to help you to grow & learn. Don’t miss this powerful lesson