Sam Cawthorn – Leverage Life
Sam Cawthorn delivers 3 ways to leverage happiness even on your lowest days.
I was actually pronounced dead at the scene.
It was my fault. It was my fault. I fell asleep at the wheel. I veered over the other side of the road and had a 206 kilometer head-on collision with a semi-trailer truck.
My arm was amputated there at the scene, and I also completely wrecked my leg. Six broken ribs, lacerated and punctured kidney. Both my lungs had collapsed at the same time. Obviously, they resuscitated me. Then I was put on life support for an entire week, in hospital for five months, and then in a wheelchair for an entire year. Doctors told me initially, they said, “Sam, you’ll never be able to walk ever again. You’ll be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life.” This was just a few years ago.
Now before my accident, I was very motivated, very passionate and I was doing a lot of things. I was classically trained as a singer, I had been playing the guitar since I was seven years old. I had a great job with the federal government as a youth futurist. In a way, I lacked “why”. Destiny, purpose, and also sleep in my own life. Three areas that really, really helped me. In a way, these are three ways how I leveraged myself coming out of an adversity, coming out of a massive death experience.
The first one of these is this: I needed to learn how to leverage crisis. There’s a massively corporate buzzword out there, which is actually called “adversarial growth”, which means through almost toughest of adversities can ignite some of the greatest of growth periods in our life. When it’s a crisis, there’s something in our biology that leaks so much pain to it that says, “We must get ourselves out of it.” Crisis equals opportunity.
Ever since my accident, since then, we’ve actually now started an amazing charity where we’re working with the true course [inaudible 00:01:55] that keeps that lead with a disability and developing world. We’re doing some phenomenal things, and that’s actually, obviously, how I have bounced forward and how I am now awake at the wheel. Because I’ve learned to leverage an adversity, a problem, or an issue. I’ve actually turned that into a crisis, and then leveraged from it.
Second area of leverage: Leverage of proximity. That you are the average of your five closest friends. This study also shows that it’s exactly the same with our weight, with our bank account balance, with our energy levels, with our happiness results; that we are the average of our five closest friends. It’s quite interesting, back in high school, I was hanging out with these real negative, toxic proximity. And they influenced me to do things that I knew I should not have been doing. But they influenced me in a very toxic way, and I found myself getting kicked out of school. So what did I have to do? I had to disassociate myself from a lot of my mates, from a lot of my friends to start hanging out with people that inspired me in a positive way rather than in a negative way.
And the third area that has really, really helped me is leverage happiness. Depression rates today are 10 times greater than what they were in the 1930s Great Depression. The main onset age of depression 35 years ago was 29 years old. Today, it is 14 years old. Optimistic workers outperform their pessimistic colleagues by 56%. Happy children show three times more creativity than their unhappy counterparts. There must be a way how we can bring happiness and positivity back into our proximity purposefully.
I choose to focus on the good things in life. I get disability parking spots! How cool is that? The doctors all said to me initially, they said, “Sam, you’ll never be able to play the guitar ever again. You’ve lost your most dominant arm.” You know when someone says that to you? You know when some sort of says, “You’ll never be able to do it! There’s no chance, you might as well give up! You won’t get it!” There’s something deep down within that says, “Stuff you, I’m going prove you wrong.” Come on, who’s felt that before?! Who’s felt that before? We’ve all felt that before! Every single one of us!
Did you know, I’m one of the only people on the entire planet who plays the guitar with one hand? How cool is that? I brought along my guitar with me, can I play something for you guys?!
Thank you very much, guys! Thank you very much.
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