An Adelaidian who also calls London home, a mother, an author and the founder of M.A.D. for Peace, Gill Hicks survived the 2005 London terrorist bombings to find herself lying in a hospital bed, unable to walk or say a single word. Her recovery, adjusting to the loss of both her legs under the knee and a lot of time ‘with just me and my mind’, gave Gill cause to question the things we fear and the things we could achieve if we freed ourselves to live a little more.
I have a question for you: What’s the worst that can happen?
Death is something that is often thought of as the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to us – the fear of the absolute unknown – but having faced my own death, I can now say that death is something I no longer fear, no longer something that I hold as being the most dreaded thing that could ever happen, because death is about loss, and the loss is felt by those left behind, those who still have life – not you.
Just me and my mind
When I woke up from a coma in the aftermath of the bombings, my life was very suddenly and abruptly halted. I’d had a successful career in London where I was very busy being busy. I was something of a workaholic if I’m honest.
I went from zooming through my days to being immobile, unable even to say a single word. I had to learn how to speak again.
I remember wanting water but not being able to ask for it. Over and over again, I’d think, I just can’t believe no one is giving me a glass of water! It was so incredibly frustrating not to be able to ask for something so small and so necessary. But I was trapped with my mind so I had to learn to become a better keeper of my thoughts. I started visualising myself drinking the water. That became my barometer of success.
I came to realise how powerful our minds are. How, actually, the only thing I could control in life is the way I responded to adversity and opportunity. Even when it came to learning to walk again, it was mental strength that made the difference. Yes, about ten percent of the challenge was physical, but if I forgot how to balance, I fell over. That is extraordinary.
What’s your baseline?
That’s why for me, the worst – and the saddest – thing that can happen to any of us is that we wake up, years from now, and wonder what we did with our lives – or how we lost touch with ourselves.
Yes, you may have survived – but is that really a good enough baseline for this little window of time we call life?
Can you connect with others, challenge the status quo, ask bigger questions, get outside, or use your body more? Can you create something that will benefit someone else? It’s so easy to get swept away in the business of being busy. But how wonderful to know that when you leave this world, you left it a little bit richer than before you entered.
The best part is, you already have a mind that will astound you, and unbelievable technology at your fingertips. It shouldn’t take a catastrophe to make you realise that that powerful combination is yours for the taking.
To hear more thought-provoking ideas from Gill Hicks, join us at Xerocon next month. We’ve got a stellar lineup of speakers designed to give you the tools and insights to take your practice to the next level. Get your tickets today!