Samuel: An Inspirational Man of Iron Qualities

It’s been a while since we’ve highlighted a Man of Iron Qualities on here. The last one was Conor McGregor back in December 2016.

McGregor is unrelenting in his determination to succeed and consistently demonstrates a positive spirit and drive that has taken him to the very top of the UFC.

But the guy I want to talk about today takes these traits to a whole new level.

Samuel is a Year 8 student at the Manchester Creative and Media Academy and he suffers from Cerebral Palsy. He’s also a big football fan and his favourite team is Manchester United.

He recently got a chance to visit the club’s training ground thanks to the Manchester United Foundation – a charity that uses football to engage and inspire young people to build a better life for themselves and unite the communities in which they live. And it was through a promotional video of his visit that I came across Samuel and his inspirational outlook on life.

 

In the video, we see 11 year-old Samuel meeting several Man Utd players during the day – which he describes as “the best day of my life.”

And while it’s nice to see the Manchester United Foundation help make a young kid’s day and the players give something back to the community, what stands out when you watch this video is Samuel.

We see a boy who possesses an amazingly positive outlook on life. He has a passion for football and nothing is going to stop him from actively enjoying this passion. Not even Cerebral Palsy.

 


“Having Cerebral Palsy is very hard to get with, but I don’t really take that as a big issue. I just get on with it.”

 

 

Samuel is an 11 year-old with Cerebral Palsy. But he doesn't let that stop him from going out and achieving his dreams and ambitions. Read on to find out about this inspirational young man

In fact, he does more than get on with it

After receiving support from the Foundation’s coaches, he now turns out for his school team, playing as a goalkeeper:

 


“When we’re in a match or in training, I use my knees to move around and jump…Having a Manchester United Foundation coach is amazing. I thought I couldn’t enter the football team, then my coach gave me a chance…and from there I got better.”

 

A positive attitude and steely determination are great assets that every man should strive towards. But in order to become the best we can be, we need a strong network of like-minded people. And Samuel is no different.

He has been able to play football for his school team and become a better goalkeeper because his friend helps him with his frame and plays football with him, while his football coach helped him develop and improve his football skills.

Samuel has friends and mentors who help him become a better player. And you and I are no different. Find mentors. Be a mentor. Support your friends when they need you. Reach out for support from your friends when you need it.

This is how we help others become better men. And how we can become better men ourselves.

 

This story is not about sport, football or Manchester United

It’s about the power of positivity and the determination to do your best and keep going – no matter the circumstances. It’s about the lessons Samuel can teach us all about how to live our lives every day.

Samuel has made the choice to enjoy life – and football – as much as he can. And it’s not easy or always comfortable for Samuel to play football. But that doesn’t stop him:

 


“Playing football is a bit difficult to be honest. I can’t really get around because when it’s cold my body just gets stiff. But I still try.”

 

 

And here’s the thing. We will all struggle from time to time

Most of us don’t have the luxury of being dealt a pair of Aces at this big poker game called life.

But you’re still at the table. Playing. So play – and play the hand you’ve been dealt. Don’t waste time thinking about how you would have played another hand. That’s the secret to living a fulfilling life – doing your best with what you have.

And what are you going to do if you haven’t been given every skill or opportunity or circumstance that you want? Are you going to piss and moan about it and give up on your dreams and ambitions?

It’s the easiest thing in the world to make excuses and give up. It’s never going to be easy. There will always be obstacles in the way that roadblock your progress. But what separates true men from the rest is how we react to these circumstances.

So many men give up and resign themselves to a life of being miserable and talking about what they could have done. Don’t be that man.

 

Be the man who keeps going despite circumstances, not because of them

The life well-lived is one where you do something to improve yourself every day – whether that be by learning something new, practising a skill or learning a new one. You keep taking steps forward – no matter how small those steps are.

So you improvise, adapt and overcome. Just like Samuel. And when you’re feeling like giving up, take inspiration from him just as he took inspiration from his heroes who play for Manchester United:

 


“(the players) show good emotions to keep going no matter what…when they are doing it I am saying to myself ‘never, never, never give up’. I mean, I’m in a wheelchair and I never give up. I don’t even care about having a wheelchair. Just try. Try your hardest.

 

 

A true inspiration

I’m so glad I saw this video and got the chance to experience Samuel’s amazing attitude to life. He has inspired me to keep going with my efforts to be the best I can be. And judging by the general reaction to this video, he has also inspired many others around the world.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t – or aren’t – making as much progress as you would like. You keep going. There is no end of the journey.

Keep going. Keep trying. Keep moving forward. Never give up.

Just like Samuel.

 

 

 

Back to the basics in nature

Big Daddy Bo took some time out recently for a road trip into nature with some of his boys. I shook up my regular routine and came back with some fresh perspective on shit.

Yes, I went up to the Scottish Highlands for a few glasses of top quality whisky and a browse at some of the scenery. I shut down the engines for a while and took a look at things from a different angle. And what it did was reaffirm for me the importance of breaking routine and smelling the roses – it’s something we should all do a lot more of.

Get in touch with nature

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” – Dale Carnegie

I have grown up living life to a series of deadlines. And I’m not alone in that. We rush from one panic to another; one project to another; one deadline to another.

It’s travelling from A to B via the quickest route. And we make big sacrifices to get there. We try to cut corners and we get tunnel vision – we don’t see the bigger picture.

How many times have you wished your life away so you can get through things? Saying things like:

“I wish this week was over”

“Roll on 5pm so I can get out of here”

“I can’t wait until next year”

In those few days in the Scottish wilderness it hit me: Nature doesn’t panic. Nature doesn’t rush. There are no projects or deadlines. Nature just is.

Nature is present just as I should be.

Everything in nature happens in its own time and while I was reflecting on this in Scotland, the importance of yesterday and tomorrow shrank. There was only now and I appreciated that fact a lot more than I normally do when I’m entrenched in my regular routine.

 

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life in the Highlands is very different to that in London or any other city. It’s a slower pace. More simple – and I don’t mean that negatively. The unnecessary complications of urban living are not there. And it feels more real – more authentic.

Everything in its own time – the natural world has composure and patience.

But it’s a way of life that has been lost or forgotten by most of us. Rediscovering what living like this feels like reawakens our instinctive masculine core and cuts away all the bullshit that’s shoved down our throats every day.

 

“The earth has music for those who listen.” – George Santayana

We have over-complicated things and the truly essential skills and knowledge that we need as men has been buried under this pile of bullshit.

Think of the Signal to Noise ratio (SNR). It’s a measure used to compare the level of desired signal to the level of unwanted background noise. Modern lifestyles are mostly noise – things that don’t REALLY matter. Not really.

Does it really matter that you used inconsistent fonts in your powerpoint presentation to the CEO?

Does it really matter that a potential honey flaked on you at the last minute?

Does it really matter that you missed out on tickets to the big Champions League game?

No.

All these things, essentially, are noise. And there is so much of it in our lives that we have to listen REALLY hard to hear the signal.

While there, we rented a place beside Loch Sunart that had a wooden balcony overlooking the water. I sat out there one night with a large glass of whisky. There was no traffic, no people and no noise. And as the stars wheeled in the sky the only sounds were from the occasional bird or fish splashing in the water. Everything felt like signal and it was much easier to hear.

There’s something to be said about a tall glass of whisky, time and silence.

 

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. – John Lubbock

When I was 11 I received a great piece of advice that I never forgot – “Enjoy life, but don’t be afraid to smell the roses once in a while.”

The older I get, the more that advice rings true. But just like a river, the skill is to continually move forward. Smelling the roses is like when that river slows down in a large pool. It slows down…but it does not stop.

Reflect on the past, but don’t live there. Slow down…but don’t stop. Remember and learn…then move on. Don’t get sentimental or nostalgic. The river can only flow one way.

 

“We must constantly look at things in a different way.” John Keating – Dead Poets’ Society

Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society passed on some fierce wisdom to his students. He encourages the boys in his class to constantly look at things in a different way, demonstrating this by standing on his desk in order to see the classroom from a different angle.

That’s what I did – except that before I stood on my desk, I took it into the Scottish wilderness and set it in between some Highland cows and a shitload of nature.

 

“I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fuckin’ heroic.” – George Carlin

So that’s it. I went on a short break, broke my regular routine for a while and got a different perspective. And looking at things from a different angle helped me see and understand the importance of the Iron Qualities even more clearly.

You are alive. Smell the roses. Constantly question yourself, where you are and where you’re going.

Don’t just live to work. Don’t just serve. Don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe the empty promises. You are not a cog. You are not a machine. You are a person. You are alive. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Don’t just serve. Go out and live. Live deep and suck the marrow out of life.

Dead Poet’s Society: How to seize the day like a man


I was catching up with Mike Black the other day and we got talking about Dead Poet’s Society as he’d just watched it again.

“Dead Poet’s Society – the Iron Qualities are strong in that movie.” he told me

And you know what? He’s absolutely right. It’s sums up perfectly the battle we must fight to become better men and the obstacles we face in this journey.

Seize the day like a man

Oh Captain, my Captain

Robin Williams’ character John Keating IS the Iron Qualities. Keating is an English teacher at a fancy all-boys boarding school who finds out his class has been learning to rate the merits of poetry based on a points system.

Unhappy with this approach, he stirs things up with unorthodox teaching methods that the big-wigs at the school don’t approve of; teaching methods that encourage the boys in his class to realise their potential and discovering their true purpose in life – telling them to “make your lives extraordinary.”

Maybe you were lucky enough to have a Mr Keating in your life – but I’m guessing most of us didn’t. He’s the mentor we all wish we had at that age.

 

Don’t be a lemming

When he looks at the boys in his class he doesn’t see a bunch of drones to be prepped to serve their purpose in the Big Machine as doctors, lawyers and businessmen. He sees their potential, their confusion, and the fact that they are slipping slowly into the abyss of conformity, never to realise their dreams.

He encourages them to express themselves without inhibition rather than live the life of a lemming (I think he even uses that word at some point in the movie). This is best illustrated through Ethan Hawke’s character who starts the movie as a shy, spineless follower who fails to step up to several of Keating’s challenges before literally taking a stand for the man at the movie’s climax.

 

Always move forward

 

Man vs Machine

And so it is with a life of the Iron Qualities – a life where you resolve to be the best you can be and fulfil your potential in a world that is trying to make you fit another purpose. It’s not easy and it’s not comfortable. You will have setbacks and sometimes you will fall.

The setbacks don’t matter – it’s how you respond, how you learn from them and how you move forward.

You might find yourself in difficult circumstances where your principles and actions are at odds with an element of the Big Machine – just like the boys in Dead Poet’s Society. They each respond to those challenges in different ways – some right…some wrong. It had tragic consequences for some but in the end, the boys stuck to the principles Keating had instilled in them and took a stand against the powers that be.

 

Carpe Diem

The ‘Carpe Diem’ scene is one of the movie’s most well-known moments. Keating shows the boys some old photos of former pupils who are now dead and gets one of the student to read a poem by Robert Herrick:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying

The point he makes to the class is that when you’re young, you feel invincible and that you can do anything you want. But we are only on this earth for a short amount of time. One day you look in the mirror and see a young boy with a few pimples here and there. Tomorrow you look at that same mirror and see an old man.

Keating tells the boys to ‘seize the day’ – and this is advice we should all follow. Do what you can NOW to become your best. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Don’t wait for conditions to be just right. Don’t wait for permission. Start the journey towards the Iron Qualities TODAY. Carpe Diem

When the time comes for that old man to look back at you in that mirror, make sure you can tell him that you did absolutely everything you could to be the best you could be so that the only reply he can give you is “I know. It’s been a great life.”

 

Become the best you can be today

 

Steps in the right direction

Don’t be put off by setbacks. Don’t be discouraged by failures. Don’t be disappointed in a lack of visible gain. Any step you take in the right direction, no matter how small, is still a step in the right direction.

And how do you know what the right direction is? Reading any article written by Bo Ideal is a good start. Another positive move would be finding a John Keating of your own. The importance of mentors can’t be underestimated and identifying someone who has been there and done that and is willing to share their advice and experience is a powerful move.

And if you have a gift to share with the world, share it. Pass on the skills and  knowledge that you have learned that make you a better man. Share the Iron Qualities.

Either be a John Keating – or find one.

 

“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse”
Walt Whitman