4 minute read | By Colin | Emotional intelligence, Work/Life Balance

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The young man who lived #StephensStory

We have recently run a number of short in-house bespoke workshops and one to one coaching sessions around the themes of personal effectiveness and work/life balance. Topics have included resilience, challenging limiting beliefs, mindfulness, prioritisation, taking ownership of your career and presenting yourself with impact. These are all themes that abound in the inspirational story of Stephen Sutton, the young man who raised over £3.75 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust and who sadly died aged 19. in 2014. If you type in #StephensStory to any search engine or social media tool you will see the remarkable things that Stephen achieved and his unceasing desire to motivate all of us in personal effectiveness and work/life balance.

Resilience. Stephen demonstrated amazing resilience. Diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer at the age of 15 he went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst continuing to attend school as often as possible, work on his bucket list of things to achieve and raise money for charity. He said, ‘Bad things happen but it is the way you choose to react to them that is important’. Adding ‘I may have cancer but cancer doesn’t have me’.

Do you choose how you react to situations?

Stephen was always positive, optimistic, smiling and hopeful. He declared ‘A positive outlook leads to positive outcomes,’ a sentiment that is backed up by research on resilience which shows that there is a link between an optimistic outlook and resilience.

How resilient are you?

Challenging Limiting Beliefs. Stephen challenged the belief that life is about the number of years lived and replaced it with his own belief saying, “I don’t measure life in terms of time any more, I’d rather measure life in terms of making a difference”.

What beliefs do you have that may limit you? What may be more useful beliefs?

Mindfulness. Mindfulness is about staying in the moment rather than worrying about what has gone before or what is coming up. Stephen presented the following scenario to a group of finance professionals. ‘Imagine that someone put £86,400 into your bank account this morning and said you had to spend it (you can’t save it) and what is left at the end of the day you will never have access to again. Wouldn’t you do your utmost to spend it?’ Why then, he argued, don’t we make the most of the 86,400 seconds we have in a day?

Prioritization. Stephen realised he only had a limited amount of time to live and said that the initial cancer diagnosis was a ‘kick up the backside’ and a reminder that ‘life is for living’. This realisation ensured he prioritised first his bucket list of activities and latterly his charity work.

Are you prioritising the important stuff or will it take a ‘kick up the backside’?

Taking Ownership Of Your Career. Stephen was a gifted student and was on track to take a degree in medicine. He realised this wasn’t going to happen and instead focused on what he could achieve saying ‘I don’t want to be remembered as someone who didn’t fulfil my potential’.

What are you doing to take ownership of your career so that you fulfil your potential?

Presenting Yourself With Impact. The fact that you are reading this story is testament to the impact Stephen made. By presenting himself with impact at conferences and on social media people listened to his message. He realised the power of making an impact to engage others to change; saying that, although he didn’t have much time, he aimed to motivate those who did have time to make a difference in the world. His message was ‘get out there – achieve, enjoy more, make a difference. Life is great’.

What is the impact you make?


Food for thought?

See Stephen’s speech at the St James Place Event at the O2 with 4000 guests

Stephen’s JustGiving page


Colin Graves   May 2014

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