top of page

From the desk of Coach James

Do this one thing to get better results in life

If I have learned one thing in life, from being killed in a car crash as a child, the struggle to survive, learning to live again – with a brain injury and paralysis – and feeling lost and alone for three decades; it would probably be that, life’s not fair. Life doesn’t always go to plan, things don’t work out and then we ask ourselves why life isn’t fair.

There is this saying that says, life offers neither problems nor challenges, only opportunities. When life seems to be always testing you, and the struggle is real; just where are these opportunities that are talked about?

Life provides opportunities for growth and learning, a chance to find out who you really are. I remember my dad always encouraging me to try to walk and not settle for a life in a wheelchair – which for me was the preferable option. I was always told to give things a go, to put one foot in front of the other see what happens, if I fell flat on my face, at least I tried and can adapt and learn from the feedback I got from my first attempt. There is a lesson to be learned from trying and then adapting and trying again.

In 2016 I was told I had a brain tumour which had displaced a large portion of my brain and had eroded through my skull and was protruding out the side of my head by my ear; rubbing against my glasses. At the time I was training to run the London Marathon, it’s bamboozling to think I was even able to get up in the morning with a displaced brain, let alone run.

I recall the day I went to the doctor about this lump on the side of my head that was rubbing against my glasses. Thinking the bump was a cyst, I was told to keep an eye on it, and expected it to dissipate over time, which it did not. Several months later the suspected cyst was still present, and I was sent to the hospital for a scan. The first scan was inconclusive, but a further MRI revealed a tumour in my brain.

The moment the consultant said the lump was a brain tumour and had eroded through the side of my skull, causing the bump by my ear, I was apathetic towards the news, it was just another setback as far as I was concerned. Yet outside the doctor’s office my mum burst into tears and gave me a hug, wrapping her arms around me as I stood there stolid to the events unfolding around me.

I was set to fly to Florida in a few weeks to attend the Tony Robbins personal development event Date With Destiny; in fact it was at a Ton Robbins event in Florida a few years earlier that I came up with the audacious goal to run the London Marathon. Now here I was facing uncertainty about the future because of this thing growing in my head.

Was making a transatlantic flight safe for me to do in my condition, would the change in altitude pressure cause my head to explode; who knew? As with everything in life that has happened to me, I remained calm and carried on with my trip to America.

It was at the Tony Robbins event that I gained a valuable piece of wisdom that served me very well. Several months later when I had a 12-hour surgery to remove the tumour, I was only in the hospital for two days, not the prescribed seven as was expected; and I put that down to the wisdom I got from Date With Destiny. I will share this life-changing wisdom with you now.

Tony Robbins, for those of you who don’t know, is probably the world's biggest know life coach and mentor, he teaches that in life coaching, to get better answers, you should ask better questions. At this five-day event designed to create your new destiny and desired version of yourself, one of my biggest aha moments was when Tony, a beast of a man, said, “What’s your primary question. What’s your go to when life gets tough, what are you telling and asking yourself when things go wrong?” For me at this point I was always asking myself why is life so unfair and hard, why does nothing work out for me? The big man said if you change your primary question [what you say to yourself in times of distress] your brain will come up with a better response.

On gaining this new insight I designed a new primary question to ask myself when life is challenging me. Instead of, “Why is life so unfair, and bad things keep happening to me?” I came up with, “How can I be even stronger right now to deal with this challenge, for the good of myself and others?” And thus my brain now comes up with a better more helpful response to my self-inquiry than had I stuck with my default question of, why is life so hard all the fucking time.

This new primary question helped me deal with the whole event of waiting for the surgery, and dealing with the aftermath of it, and still serves me to this day. Change your primary question to get a better answer. I said to myself, “Whatever happens happens, and I’ll deal with what will be as best I can.

What do you tell yourself when life challenges you? What would be a better question to ask yourself?


bottom of page