My second edition of The MAGIC Hundred is releasing on 20th September (my 38th Birthday) so I thought I'd share a little of the new material I've added.
It's a bit different...
Like most of the authors of ‘success systems’ and goal setting programs, I didn’t just happen upon the principles that I now call The MAGIC Hundred. I found them partly through extensive searching and researching and partly through trial and error and, truth be told, largely by luck.
Let me set the story for you….
I grew up on several of Central London’s housing estates that had been built and reserved for the poorest of London’s residents and where practically every family was either legitimately on welfare due to genuine financial hardship, or else conning the welfare system by making claims whilst working for cash and avoiding taxes.
The areas I lived in were high in poverty, high in crime, high in violence and high in alcohol abuse and low in just about anything that could even remotely come close to the kind of life that anyone would ever call satisfying, let alone successful.
And that was true of my home too.
My mother genuinely loved her three sons, of which I was the oldest, and tried her hardest to make sure that there was always food on the table and that we were always clean, well dressed and well cared for but struggled against the fact money was scarce and that what little there was, was often taken for booze by my alcoholic stepfather who would disappear for days at a time on drink binges leaving us with cornflakes and little else and return, more often than not, in violent rages where he would beat my mother, us kids or both.
So we spent a lot of our free time playing outside in the streets so that we could make believe and pretend that what was happening at home wasn’t and that life was better than it really was.
My brother Kaz and I would often resort to stealing milk and bread off of other people’s doorsteps on the way to school and call it breakfast and then line up for seconds of our free school lunches to make sure we got enough to eat as well as resorting to the occasional shoplifting whenever the opportunity to grab a chocolate bar or packet of cookies presented itself.
Looking back, my brother and I became pretty feral in many respects, dealing with bullies at school who would pick on us because of our many times repaired hand-me-down clothing as well as the bullies on the housing estates who would want to take from us what little we had for no other reason than the fact that they wanted it. By necessity we learned to take care of ourselves pretty well and, though we always did our best to keep ourselves to ourselves, found that we had to fight almost every day whether at school, at home or on the journey in between.
As our childhood years passed us by nothing about our lives really changed. There were still drunken arguments and beatings at home, still fights with ‘outsiders’ whenever we went out and, of course, still no money.
In the UK around November 5th each year we’d have Guy Fawkes night in celebration of Fawkes’ failed plot to blow up parliament in 1605. It was customary in the 1970’s and 80’s for children up and down the UK to make effigies of Guy Fawkes from old clothing and masks and stand on street corners shouting “Penny for the Guy” at the passers buy who would, if you were lucky, slip you a few pennies, ostensibly to buy fireworks which you’d set off on the evening of the 5th around a massive bonfire on which you’d burn the Guy you’d made.
Kaz and I would often have no spare clothes to make our Guy with so I’d end up sitting my brother in a baby buggy or a box, stuff his clothing with newspaper to make him look more like a ‘real’ Guy and put the finishing touches by making a mask from a paper plate and drawing on a face. Pull on a hood so you couldn’t see hair or skin and, Bob’s your uncle, we had a Guy.
On a good day we’d make several pounds from passers by, which was a lot in those days and, after buying ourselves a few bars of chocolate and the odd comic book, we’d hurry off home and give most of the rest to my mum so that she could either buy dinner or feed the electricity meter. She never asked, we just did it. Come to think of it, I don’t think we ever bought fireworks with that money.
The fighting continued. Both at home and outside.
As kids, we couldn’t do much about what went on at home. We were too young, too small and too scared to stand up to my dad, but one evening in 1982 we found a way to deal with the bullies.
After watching Sylvester Stallone in Rocky 3 and still with ‘The Eye Of The Tiger’ ringing in our ears, Kaz and I joined our local boxing club and quickly found that we were not only good, we were very good.
A combination of streetwise self confidence, natural aggression and, in reflection, a burning anger at what life had dealt us up to that point made us both extremely dangerous adversaries to face in the ring and we revelled in the attention and praise lavished upon us by the tough east-end coaches who trained us.
Within a very short period of time the discipline and toughness of the boxing training began to pay off. We were both asked to box in competition first representing the club locally, then the borough, then the region and then for all of London. We kept on winning and found our faces plastered over the sports section of the local newspapers almost every other week.
We were celebrities. We thought we’d made it.
We were wrong.
Seems that, whilst your average bully is far less likely to pick on a champion boxer, gangs of kids with nothing better to do but stand on street corners spraying graffiti and smashing streetlamps are less put off from doing so. I found this out when I was 13 or so and was beaten up by a group 16 year olds who felt I was too big for my boots because I’d been in the papers again that week. They decided they’d teach the boxer how to fight for real. And their lesson was a thorough one which included detaching the cartilage from my nasal bone, among other things.
After that, my life became a blur of tit for tat battles with my new ‘teachers’. They’d pick a fight and usually win, I’d wait until one of them was alone and get him back and he’d tell his friends and they’d get me all over again. It wasn’t great but at least it was predictable. You never had to worry about whether or not trouble would find you on any given day. It would. Always. You just never knew when.
My grandfather had served in World War 2 with the paratroopers and the S.A.S, or so he’d told me when I was small. I used to love his war stories and tales of secret missions behind enemy lines and was totally army barmy, promising myself that as soon as I was old enough I’d join up, travel the world and live a life totally different to the one I’d been shown up to that point.
I was only 13 so I still had a few years to go but I joined the army cadets to get a feel for what the army might be like. A youth club with combat clothing and rifles arranged around a military rank system, the army cadets became my home away from home for the next few years with almost every weekend given over to assault courses, shooting weekends, bivouacs, survival exercises and adventure training.
I became supremely fit, running 20-30 miles a week with a 35lb pack and gaining my proficiency in numerous weapons as well as gaining the rank of sergeant that required me to learn how to lecture and train the younger cadets in everything from navigation to weapon handling to survival training. I was just 15 by this point and was pretty much a shining star in this closed little community of the cadets.
At home though, it was like we were caught in a time warp.
We still lived in a dump, my dad still drank and hit my mum (though he hit us kids less now as we were getting bigger) and kids in gangs still wanted a piece of me whenever they clapped eyes on me.
I couldn’t wait to get into the army.
At 15 I applied to join the ‘Junior Leaders’. These are kids who have leadership potential who are to be trained for rapid rank acceleration once they reach age 18. They couldn’t, at that time, go to war until they were 17 ½ but they were trained exactly like their adult counterparts… though paid much less.
I emotionally blackmailed my mum into letting me join and attended the selection weekend for the elite Parachute Regiment and passed with flying colours. I was still too young to join but they told me that a place would await me as soon as I graduated secondary school at 16 ½ . Life was definitely looking rosy.
Or so I thought.
Then, one night not too long before my sixteenth birthday I woke up to the sounds of my mum screaming. My dad was drunk again and showing my mum how much of a man he was. I’d grown up with this all my life and I was kind of used to it and ignored it for a while until suddenly there was a different quality to my mum’s screams. A different pitch. One that told me she was in serious trouble.
I jumped out of bed, ran into the living room and headed straight for my dad and punched him as hard as I could in the ribs.
Only I didn’t punch him.
As I pulled my hand away I saw that, without understanding how it got there, there was a 7 inch hunting knife that I used on my cadet weekends. It was covered in blood, as was my hand and the side of my dad’s shirt from where blood was escaping from the puncture wound to his heart that I’d given him.
I’d stabbed my dad through the heart and didn’t even know I’d done it until after the fact.
It was only the first aid I’d been trained in as an army cadet that saved his life and, ultimately, saved me from going to jail for murder. That, and the fact that when he came around eventually he refused to press charges against me.
Soon after I quit school. It was six months until my final exams and I’d done well enough to ensure that I’d pass with very good grades but I couldn’t face another day there and instead went off to live in Wales where I could train in the mountains and get fit for the army.
So there I was. Sixteen years of age. Homeless. Broke. Unemployed. Unqualified. Attempted murderer….
But don’t feel sorry for me.
I certainly don’t.
There’s nothing to feel sorry for.
Fast-Forward 21 years.
Fast-forward Airborne forces, Royal Marines and and back to civilian life again.
Fast-forward getting married and having 4 children.
Fast-forward numerous dead-end jobs from bodyguard to builder, sewer worker to street sweeper and everything in between.
Fast-forward setting up my own personal training business, becoming an industry leader and a published author.
Fast-forward to today where I now run 5 separate businesses, earn 6-figures a year, appear on TV, radio and magazines and spend several months of the year travelling to far flung parts of the world with my family.
How life changes!
Truth, Joy and Love
The MAGIC Hundred is currently available at www.themagichundred.com