Sometimes the business journey takes owners to a really dark place. However, as one operator explains, those dark places can be ironically illuminating.
Author, professional speaker and founder of the Speakers Institute, Sam Cawthorn, told My Business it was not until a near-fatal accident did he find his true passion in life – motivating others to be the best they can be.
“[It was] like any other day, I was driving along. It was three o'clock in the afternoon, and I fell asleep at the wheel. It was my fault,” Sam admits.
“I veered over the other side of the road, and I had a 206-kilometre head on collision with a semi-trailer truck.
“I’ll give you an idea of the impact: the steering wheel in my car was underneath the passenger seat.”
The injuries Sam suffered in the crash were nothing short of horrific.
“My elbow was ripped off my arm, was 25 metres away from the car, and six broken ribs, a lacerated liver, punctured kidney. Both of my lungs had collapsed at the same time, and then everything then was wrong with my entire left side of my body from my hip, quad, femur, fibula, knee cap etc,” he says.
“I was then told that I had stopped breathing, and right there at around six minutes past three o'clock in the afternoon on 3rd October 2006, my heart stopped. Literally, I died. Paramedics, after about 18 minutes, they came up to me, managed to resuscitate me.”
Having survived the smash – just – Sam was faced with a very different future, losing his right arm and the use of his leg.
“I was on life support for a week, in hospital for five months, and then in a wheelchair for an entire year. Doctors said I would never be able to walk ever again, so my story started there.”
And while Sam confessed that he had many pillow changes during his time in hospital as they became soaked in tears, he refused to give up. He began sharing his story at local schools, and soon began making good money as a speaker.
“I was doing, on average, five schools a week. Sometimes I was even doing up to three schools in one day,” recalls Sam.
“I was more of a resilience expert or positive psychology, that type of stuff, so I learnt how to share my story and made it relevant to the listener, to give them value. As we all know, value is not value unless it addresses the pain point or problem of our target audience. For me, I really found out what was valuable to a school, and I just simply shared my story and gave them tangible ingredients of what I learnt in my story to give the school some value.”
Sam has since gone on to speak in 36 countries, give the keynote closing speech at the professional speakers’ international conference “where Tony Robbins is a delegate” and shared the stage with the likes of Bill Clinton, Sir Richard Branson and the Dalai Lama, and now coaches professional speakers and corporate leaders how to be a better communicator.
Hear more about Sam’s incredible journey of overcoming adversity, as well as some free advice on public speaking, on the My Business Podcast below:
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.